Setting Up a Consistent Elimination Schedule

By PetMD Editorial on Apr. 13, 2011

Dogs are, by nature, habitual creatures. They do best when they are able to stick to habits and routines that they have been accustomed to since they were puppies. This is why it is important to create a routine for your puppy as soon as possible, the earlier the better.

When Nature Calls

Begin by creating a schedule for the puppy’s meal times, and most especially, her elimination schedule. Setting a time for her elimination and making sure that you stick to that schedule will create a routine for your puppy, so she knows when it is the right time to eliminate. This will help her to learn self control over her body and prevent accidents, which means that as time goes by and your puppy gets better at controlling her body functions, you will not be cleaning up after your dog as frequently.

As you create a routine for your puppy, start off by taking her out every morning and lead her to the designated elimination area. It is important you lead the puppy to a specific area each time so that she knows that she should go there and only there. In the beginning it is also good to use the same door and route each time so that she can predict where she is going and become more confident about her surroundings.

For the first few months, do not clean up immediately after your puppy eliminates, if possible. Leave the stool for a few minutes so that she can associate the scent with the designated spot.

Praising the Pooper

Do not leave your puppy to eliminate on her own. When she is about to eliminate, give a soft command that she can associate with the act. Keep repeating the command until she starts eliminating and then start giving praises until she is done. This encourages your puppy and tells her that she is doing the right thing. It also sets the tone for training the dog to go at a specified spot no matter where you are.

Most puppies will need to eliminate a few times in the morning, so be sure that she is completely done before you take her back indoors. Once she has finished, praise her (or him) with a short phrase such as “Good girl/boy!” While your puppy is in this initial training stage, repeat every single step, command and praise every time you take her outside to eliminate. This reinforces the routine for the puppy and helps her become accustomed to it faster.

Practice Makes Perfect

After doing this same routine for some time, your puppy will know to eliminate as soon as you give the command that you have been practicing. This will be an advantage when you are away from home, when the weather is not as friendly, and when the dog has a need to eliminate before you have arrived home. This will also save you the trouble of having to wait for a long time for your dog to decide when she will eliminate.

Image: wsilver / via Flickr

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