House training a puppy is an essential part of your training regime but it can also be very frustrating and time-consuming. It takes time to house train a puppy, typically 4 – 6 months. With smaller dogs such as the German Spitz, it may take slightly longer because in general small dogs have small bladders and higher metabolism.
So, be prepared for some serious work! Just remember that every step and action will take you closer to the end goal even when it seems like you are going nowhere. There will be setbacks but just ignore them and move forward. Eventually, you will be rewarded.
When should you start house training your puppy?
You begin the house training process as soon as you get your puppy, even if he is just 7 or 8 weeks old. A puppy that young is not able to control his bladder yet, but it is important to start creating a habit out of this. Even a young puppy will learn that it is nicer to eliminate outside because that is where he gets praises and treats while inside there will be nothing. Accidents happen all the time at this age, but it doesn’t matter. It will become a habit for you, too: you will know what to do and you don’t even have to think about it.
What does the potty training include?
How exactly do you house train your puppy then? For first time owners, it may seem like a mission impossible even to get the puppy to grow up to an adult dog and stay alive, but then to potty train him at the same time! Yes, it is not easy and yes, you may get frustrated. However, there are clear instructions for how to do this – proven to work puppy after puppy – and if you follow these steps you will get results. It takes time, but you will see that these do work. Your puppy will learn; maybe it is time for you to learn to be patient in the meantime.
What to do:
Take your puppy outside as soon as he wakes up in the morning and then as often as you possibly can. At least every 2 hours, but every hour would be better. Also, take him outside every time he has eaten or woken up from a nap.
Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule (4 times a day for a puppy under 12 weeks). It is best to feed him at regular hours and not give him anything extra between meals. This will help with regular bowel movements.
Sometimes when you take your puppy outside he runs around and plays but does not eliminate. There is a chance that you end up waiting for an hour for your puppy to do his business, then you don’t want to wait any longer and get back in, and immediately after this, your puppy goes to eliminate himself inside the house. For this, it helps if you take your puppy outside to the same spot every time. His own scent will help him to remember what he is supposed to be doing.
When your puppy does his business outside, praise him and give him a good treat. Play with him and show him with your voice and actions that he was a very good pup.
Accidents happen and when they do clean up quietly without making a fuss about it. It is better to use a cleaner that is not ammonia-based because an ammonia-based cleaner might attract the puppy to do his business in the same spot again.
What not to do:
You should never punish your puppy for doing his business inside the house. Punishing him will only teach him one thing: to be afraid of you. Clearly, that is not your goal. Only reward him for correct actions, never punish him for the wrong ones. This is good advice for other areas of your life as well.
If you find evidence of an accident inside your home, do not rub the puppy’s nose in it. I personally do not understand this at all, I have never done it and I don’t know who would. But when you get a puppy and especially if you are a first-time owner there will be all kinds of people sharing their “knowledge” with you. You might hear all kinds of suggestions about what to do. In case somebody advises you to do this, just know you shouldn’t. The puppy will not learn anything if you rub his nose in the pee. He does not know to connect it with what he did earlier.
Do not crate your puppy while you house train him! Crating in certain countries, like Finland, is in fact illegal, but in many countries, it is not. This is why I must say this. Crating is cruel and stupid so just don’t. Getting a puppy is a lot of work and you will not get yourself a balanced, happy dog by being lazy. (This was a nice way of me putting it.)
When can you expect results?
Like it has been said it takes time to fully house train a puppy and it is not uncommon if it takes a whole year. A lot of it depends on where and in what kind of house you live in. It is clear that this process will take longer for puppies that live high up in an apartment building than for those puppies that have their own backyards.
Another factor is how often you are able to take your puppy outside. It will definitely prolong this process if you can only take him outside a few times a day. If you are able to take him there every hour of the day the puppy will do most of his business outside with fewer accidents inside. The more you get to reward him for right actions the faster he will learn.
Let me tell you an example of my German Spitz Mittel puppies:
When I got my first German Spitz puppy I lived in the fourth floor of an apartment building. Naturally it makes it harder to house train a puppy like that, since you first need to take a lift to go downstairs and out. I knew it to be tough so I didn’t have any expectations. Still even through these circumstances the puppy was fully house trained at around 5 months of age.
While getting my second Mittel I lived in a place where I had my own backyard so it was simple to just carry the puppy out. I thought he would be house trained in no time. But no, still at the age of 6 months I could not trust him to be house trained. Accidents still happened, and finally, I thought I was losing my mind. I was sure I had done everything just right and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
But the thing is, puppies are different and even if you have done your part correctly it doesn’t mean the puppy is going to be perfect. I remember complaining about this when my puppy turned 6 months, but just a couple of weeks later it all changed. At the age of 6.5 months, my puppy was suddenly fully house trained and there were 0 accidents from then on ever again.
House training a puppy can be never-wracking and frustrating, but in theory, at least, anybody should be able to do it. Of course, nothing in this life is certain and things happen, that is how it goes.
If you are struggling with this you should not be left alone. Seek for help. You probably know someone who has had a puppy and is able to give you reasonable advice. Or maybe you don’t? Then I would advise you to attend an online course.
There are so many online courses and it is difficult to pick a good one, but I have a suggestion. There is a course by a certified dog trainer called Adrienne Farricelli. She uses positive and gentle training methods that I can approve of. The course requires time and dedication, but it is good – and cheap! Check the current price on her website here. Yes, it is an affiliate link, and if you decide to purchase the course through my link I will get a commission. However, the price you pay is still the same.
If you remember one thing from this post it is probably me repeating to be patient. It sounds easy on paper, but trust me, when months go by it gets more and more frustrating. One thing makes this easy, though, and it is the fact that there are clear instructions for what to do. It is rare that you get these sorts of “puppy instructions” for anything but here you have them. What is difficult is to keep following them as long as you need to.
Sometimes there may be accidents even when your puppy is a 1-year-old. However, if your puppy has been house trained quite a while earlier and then suddenly starts peeing inside the house again, there may be some other reason behind it. You might want to consult your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical issues. With older dogs diseases are definitely the probable cause. With younger dogs – around 1 year of age – it might also be caused by behavioral issues connected to puberty.