Paper training is a highly effective and popular way to housetrain puppies. When done correctly, paper training teaches the puppy to eliminate on progressively smaller areas of paper (or training pads) until you are able to direct the puppy to specific areas where you want him to toilet. For some rural or suburban households, this may eventually mean pottying outdoors, while for urban dog owners it might mean eliminating in a certain spot in the laundry room.
How to Paper Train a Puppy
- Create a 'safe zone' area where the puppy can be confined when unsupervised. This can be either a pen or a small puppy-proofed room with the pup’s bed or crate, food, and water bowl.
- Line the entire area with training pads. At first the puppy will toilet all over the place, but this way it will always be on a pad.
- Remove soiled pads frequently.
- Reduce the number of pads by taking away one pad every few days, leaving a small area without a pad. Because the puppy has built up a habit of toileting on the pads, he should naturally gravitate to the area where the pads are still covering the floor, leaving the unpadded area clean.
- Puppies instinctively do not like to toilet too near where they eat or sleep, so ensure that the first pads you remove are the ones closest to the pup’s bed and bowls.
- Over the next few weeks, gradually reduce the toileting area by removing each pad until there is one single pad left. Ensure that the remaining pad is the farthest from pup’s bed and bowl, and change any soiled pads regularly.
- Use a cue word ('go potty,' for example) that the puppy will associate with toileting, and quietly say that word while he is in the act of toileting. When he has finished, gently praise him and/or give him a favorite treat or toy as a reward. Repeating this process consistently will build up an association between the word and the act of toileting, so that you then can use the word to encourage the puppy to toilet.
- If the puppy is making the transition from toileting on pads inside to going outside, take a partially soiled pad to an appropriate outside area and place it on the ground. This will encourage the puppy to toilet outside while still having the comforting feel of the pad underneath his paws.
- Once the puppy is confident about going outside, remove the use of indoor pads completely.
- If you want to designate a permanent toileting area in your home, make sure you choose a quiet area. As you give your puppy more freedom, encourage him to use the pad by leading him to this area at hourly intervals and then less frequently as he learns to hold himself for longer periods.
- The puppy should now be at the stage where he is taking himself to his pad to toilet.
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