How do I house train my puppy in an apartment?

So this is one of the most common questions I get asked about. It can be a tricky situation but it shouldn’t stop you having a puppy, as long as you are willing to be dedicated enough to take your puppy out regularly. In the first few weeks you have to be realistic that you will be in and out of your apartment very regularly. On the plus side, you might meet more of your neighbors and hopefully dog lovers, who you could eventually help out walking each others dogs and having a play mate for your new puppy.

The basic rules of house training your puppy.

Whether you are living in a house or an apartment the basic rules are the same, there are just a few more areas for you to consider.  If you catch your puppy peeing or pooping then interrupt the behaviour but don’t chastise them.  Do utilise things like puppy training pads to get your puppy through the night time accidents, unless you plan a toilet break during the night; which is necessary if crate training.

Training your puppy to toilet on cue; the assistance dog way.

Getting your puppy into a good routine using a crate and teaching your puppy a cue to let them know it’s toilet time not play time.  Have you ever wondered why assistance dog’s do not toilet when they are out and about?  It’s because they are taught to go on cue.  It’s handy for you and makes things so much clearer for your puppy.  In my time as a guide dog trainer I found this was the most effective method, so I wrote a blog post about it! If you want to train your puppy to associate a cue with the action then my house training guide will show you how (it’s really easy).  I think this is extremely beneficial, especially when house training in an apartment as your puppy needs to differentiate between going out for a walk and going out to potty.

Establishing a house training routine

Every time after your puppy has eaten or had a drink try to take them out immediately, aside from this in the first few weeks you should give them the opportunity at least hourly unless they are asleep and as soon as they awake.  Don’t worry you can extend this over the coming weeks, as their bladder and bowl control increases.  This is very important when you are living in an apartment with a puppy due to the time it will take you to get out of the building.  In most cases you should still be able to carry your 8 week old puppy and this is the best option here, as it is very rare that they will pee or poop

as you carry them.  This is not a guarantee but as funny as it may sound, I am sure you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that mess!  Making sure you get outside as quickly as possible is so important, as you can imagine!  If you walk your puppy downstairs on the leash, they are likely to go on the way down.

Remember the above point, if you have trained your puppy to potty on command then you shouldn’t have a problem with your puppy thinking it’s going for a walk and being over excited.  If your puppy still gets excitable when you present the leash then put the leash on and allow them to wear it around the house, as long as you constantly monitor them to avoid them snagging on any furniture.

Having an indoor ‘potty place’.

I would recommend this in an apartment, simply because you are not going to be able to predict every time when you puppy is going to go.  Especially during the night.  I would highly recommend using puppy training pads and although I personally doubt their uses as ‘scent pads’ that encourage your puppy to go on them they do soak up and contain all the mess, making it very easy to clean up.

Place the puppy training pads away from their bed and water bowl, as puppies do not like to toilet where they sleep or eat.  However, not too far away as you do not want your puppy searching for the pad.  Once they have peed on the pad leave this pad down (another benefit of the pads is they reduce the scent a little).  This might not sound very nice but it will encourage your puppy to go back to the same place next time.  If you are feeling brave you can even take the pad outside with you to encourage your puppy to go when they are outside.

Looking out for the signs of a puppy about to potty

When your puppy starts sniffing at the ground, circling or looks bloated, it is very likely they are ready to go.  You have to act extremely fast in this case.  Get your puppy outside to your potty area as quickly as possible and lavish praise upon them when they go outside.  Remember to label that behaviour to create the association as you have learnt to do in the house breaking training guide .

Any other problems?

I know that everyone’s situation is different, if you are struggling with any of the above points or I haven’t covered something that is relevant to you then leave a comment and get in touch.  You can also follow me on twitter @teachingpuppies    Look forward to hearing from my fellow dog lovers.


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