House training a puppy is one of the first tasks that a new dog owner needs to perform. House training basically means controlling the physical behavior of a puppy or a dog to suit indoor growing environments. The puppy may need to be trained to urinate or defecate outdoors, in a designated area, rather than inside the living area. House-training is also known as housebreaking or potty training.
A popular method of house training a puppy is crate training. A crate is used so that the dog can find it comfortable and large enough to use it. Dogs instinctively avoid defecating in their own living areas. A puppy can adjust well to using the crate, however it must not be confined to the crate for long periods of time. Puppies need to be taken out to urinate or defecate once in about every four hours during the day. The dog owner needs to closely observe the body language of the puppy. Some puppies squat, or walk in small tight circles and try sniffing the ground, when they are ready to defecate.
If a puppy starts urinating or defecating indoors, the owner can try making a sharp noise to unsettle the puppy. This should convey the message that what it is trying to do is not acceptable. The puppy then needs to be taken outside to a designated place to complete the process of elimination. After elimination, the puppy needs to be rewarded or praised with a treat so that it is positively motivated to always use the outdoors for defecating or urinating.
With house training, a puppy comes to understand that the designated area for elimination is outdoors. It will approach the door leading outside whenever it feels the urge to eliminate. The dog owner needs to watch out and praise the puppy for this and immediately allow it to go out. Some puppies will whine, bark, or scratch at the door to get the attention of the dog owner. As a puppy grows older, it is increasingly able to control its bladder and bowels for longer periods of time by itself. Some dog breeds may be harder to house train. These are breeds like the basset hound etc. If a growing dog is not able to hold the bowels for a reasonable amount of time then a vet needs to be consulted for signs of bladder problems.
Dogs may sometimes urinate inside the house to mark their territory. Even spayed or neutered dogs do this sometimes. This is more of a psychological dominance issue. The solution is to teach the dog to accept a subordinate position. During the early stages of house training, try not to punish the puppies if they defecate indoors. If you punish them it may confuse them and create behavioral problems. Puppies respond to rewards better. So if they are rewarded for following a good habit, they tend to accept that as a practice as they know that their actions please their owners and in the bargain they get rewarded.