The keys to successful housetraining are
^ Crate-training your puppy first.
^ Setting a schedule for feeding and exercising your dog.
^ Sticking to that schedule, even on weekends — at least until your dog is housetrained and mature.
^ Vigilance, vigilance, and vigilance until your dog is trained.
Using a crate to housetrain your puppy is the most humane and effective way to get the job done. It's also the easiest way because of the dog's natural desire to keep his den clean. The crate, combined with a strict schedule and vigilance on your part, ensures speedy success (see "Using a Crate: A Playpen for Your Puppy" earlier in this chapter for tips on crate-training your puppy).
Over the course of a 24-hour period, puppies have to eliminate more frequently than adult dogs. A puppy's ability to control elimination increases with age, at approximately the rate of one hour per month. During the day, when active, the puppy can last for only short periods. Until he is 6 months of age, expecting him to last for more than four hours during the day without having to eliminate is unrealistic. When sleeping, most puppies can last through the night. If you have a female puppy and you notice frequent accidents (urine), it could be a sign of a bladder infection called cystitis, which requires a trip to the vet.
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