5 common mistakes when house training a puppy - Bark and Birch

The 5 common mistakes pet parents can make when house training a puppy…

Bringing a new puppy home is so exciting but there is lots to learn at once. Sometimes, house training a puppy can feel like a full time job, especially when it comes to toilet training. Remember that slip ups happen, even with the most well intentioned pet parents. Read our Bark and Birch top tips for house training your puppy here

Keep reading for the 5 most common mistakes pet parents can make when house training a puppy…


dog sofa

House training mistakes can happen but keep with it.


1. Don’t give your dog too much freedom too soon

One mistake that many dog owners make when they get a new puppy and start house training is getting overly confident with beginners luck! You may feel like you have figured things out when your puppy goes to the toilet on cue, but don’t jump the gun too early and assume that the training is done! Believing too soon that your young puppy has everything figured out and then giving them too much freedom within the house can lead to issues and regression in any training. Make sure to keep the training going even if things are going well and after a month or so of no accidents,  you can start to give your pup more freedom!


dog sitting

Establish a routine with your puppy early on.


  2. Not growing the bond with your dog

You may be wondering what having a good bond with your puppy has to do with potty training and house training, but remember that dogs want to please you and want to have that special bond with their owners. When a dog has a strong bond with you and can sense and see a strong and nurturing leadership they will want to please you. This makes training and potty training so much easier once that bond has formed.  Growing that bond with your puppy may not happen over night but there are certain things you can do to nurture and increase the bond, such as:

  • Hand feeding your puppy.
  • Using treats as rewards for obedience and good behaviour.
  • Using enrichment games and activities. Some ideas from Bark and Birch here
  • Socialising with your puppy and other dogs when your puppy is old enough to do so.


5 common mistakes when house training a dog

It is so important to grow a loving and trusting bond with your dog


3. Not sticking to a schedule

Puppies and dogs are creatures of habit and need a routine just like babies and young children do. It’s so important to stick to this routine and schedule so they can learn when to go to the toilet and know the rules of the house. Try to stick to a general routine like this, which will work for both of you and mean your puppy picks up on how to behave and what to do.

  • Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning and at night time before you go to bed.
  • Make sure you keep meal times at the same time.
  • Take them to the toilet around 20 minutes after they have eaten or had a drink.
  • During the early days they will need to go out to the toilet at least once during the night.
  • Do some basic training during the early days and remember to include play time too for decompression and fun bonding time!
  • Have toilet breaks scheduled at least every two hours during the first month. Maybe even more regularly than that depending on your puppy.
  • Don’t forget to use a crate for a safe space and somewhere your puppy can relax and feel safe.
  • Schedule nap times just as you would with a toddler.
  • Always take them out before their nap time.
  • Be gentle, loving and nurturing with your young pup!

You can of course relax your schedule when your puppy knows to go outside and can hold their bladder for longer, but sticking to a routine early on will help you both!


dog sniffing grass

Look for the signs your pup needs to go to the toilet.


4. Never punish a puppy

Hurting a dog in the name of training will not help at all and you should never punish a puppy, even if you do find a puddle or pile of mess somewhere in the house. Don’t react if you find a mess, instead use a cleaner that takes the scent away and calmly take your puppy straight outside. Should you put your puppy’s nose in their mess to tell them off? Absolutely not! Punishing can damage your growing bond and will make your dog fearful of you and fearful of the mess they have made, meaning they are more likely to go to the toilet in secret spots you can’t find and no one wants that kind of surprise! Look out for signs of stress in your pup if you think they are playing up more often than they should be.

cheeky puppy

Getting into a routine is so important!


5. Not staying in tune with your puppy

Stay alert and on the ball when you bring your new puppy home and learn to read his or her body language just like they learn to read yours. Does your puppy pace around when they need the toilet or are they a door scratcher? Do they always need the toilet after excitable play or straight after a nap? Stay in tune with your puppy and you will both start to move and live in perfect harmony together…

*Don’t forget that many puppies may be finding their training harder as we have had unprecedented times during lockdown. Read our top tips for helping your lockdown puppy here

Check out these top tips from the experts  for more tips and advice.

Top Tips For How To Potty Train A Puppy - Bark and Birch