Bringing home a puppy is an exciting event for any family. You’re all looking forward to playing, snuggling and going places together, but having a puppy also brings responsibility.
One of the most important of these responsibilities is potty training. Ideally, you want your pup to be fully potty trained as quickly as possible to minimize accidents in the house.
Unfortunately, many new dog parents are not exactly certain how to go about providing effective potty training. That’s where this article comes in, as it provides a comprehensive guide to efficient potty training.
The Basics of Potty Training
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind throughout the process.
First, it’s essential that you remain calm and try not to get too frustrated when there are accidents or when things otherwise go wrong. Keep in mind that your puppy is a lot like a small child. He’s looking to you for guidance and support.
If you think it’s time for a potty break, go outside with your pup. This means that you may have to interrupt your favorite show or stop in the midst of preparing dinner. You may be called upon to escort your puppy outside in the middle of the night or when it’s rightfully someone else’s turn to do so. None of these things really matter. The critical thing is to be consistent and predictable and to put the needs of your potty-training pup first.
Realize that your pup is pretty small. This may mean that he needs more frequent potty breaks. If he doesn’t potty the minute he gets outdoors, practice patience. Don’t rush him. When he goes potty as expected, praise him in a soft voice during the act. When he’s done, have a party filled with praise, pats and treats. He just did exactly what you want him to do, and you want to make certain to acknowledge it.
How Do You Know If Your Puppy Is Ready to Potty?
Your puppy may show certain signs that she is ready to go potty. These may include:
- Walking in circles
- Going to the door
- Following a well-worn path to a previously marked location
- Whenever waking up from a nap
- After playing
- Approximately 30 minutes after a meal
- Any time after exercise
As a rule of thumb, calculate the puppy’s age in months and then add one. This number is approximately equal to the number of hours that the puppy can go between eliminations. For example, you would add a one to the age of a three-month-old puppy to get four. Thus, that puppy can only go about four hours between potty breaks.
Create a Schedule for your Puppy
If this helps you, here is what I always recommend for new puppy parents.
- Place a clip board with paper and pen on puppies crate.
- Jot time time of first let out in the am.
- Take up 5-7 minutes to let your puppy out.
- Ideally, circle your puppy by waking in a wide circle until puppy eliminates. Immediately reinforce with food.
- Return indoors and put puppy in crate by tossing a handful of his/her breakfast into the crate. Close crate door and begin your morning ritual of getting ready.
- Write down time you put puppy into crate.
- Every few minutes walk by your puppy’s crate and toss a few more morels Into crate. Repeat till breakfast is complete. Note: Complete feeding breakfast as per above mentioned exercise within 15 minutes.
- Once feeding is complete jot down time on clipboard.
- 15 minutes after feeding let puppy out and repeat elimination sequence of walking in a wide circle to stimulate elimination. (For some puppies walking back and forth a fence line is more effective).
- Only spend 5-7 minutes. If puppy eliminates, reinforce with a few more pieces of food and take puppy off leash (if you were using leash) and engage in a short bout of play before returning inside. Return inside and jot down time.
- If puppy doesn’t eliminate within 5-7 minutes then return inside and put puppy in crate. Repeat outdoor elimination protocol after 5 minutes. Record every time you take your pup out and return to crate.
- For the rest of the day follow above mentioned guidelines for when to let your puppy out snd how often based on age.
- Jot down times of going out and returning inside.
- Over the course of just one week you should be able to trace a pattern.
- Once you know this pattern the work becomes easier!
- Remember: your puppies will be able to extend their time gradually and not immediately.
- Note: it is never okay to force a dog to hold their urine or bowl movements for an entire work day. It’s never good for us to hold off going to the bathroom for extended periods of times. Dogs need to eliminate just like we do.
What About Puppy Pads?
Some dog parents rely on puppy pads to help train their dogs to only eliminate in a certain area. This can be an acceptable, temporary solution if you are forced to be away from your dog for many hours.
However, the regular use of puppy pads can backfire because the dog may develop a preference for that elimination spot. Accordingly, your dog may want to use pee pads for her entire life. Moreover, some dogs develop a problem differentiating between a rug and a pee pad.
The best thing that you can do for your potty-training dog is to be with her as much as possible so that puppy pads are not needed and she learns where it is actually appropriate to pee in the yard.
Combining Crate Training with Potty Training
All dogs are born with a den instinct, which means that they prefer to be in places that are snug and protected. Introduce a crate as a rewarding and happy spot, and your dog will always have a haven to enjoy.
Most dogs instinctively will not soil their sleeping space, which means that crate training can be enormously helpful with potty training. Whenever you are not able to monitor your dog for a period of time, have your dog retreat to his crate. When you return, immediately let the dog go out to his potty area. This helps to reinforce the idea of where it is acceptable to pee.
What If Your Puppy Has an Accident?
If your puppy has an accident, which is inevitable, don’t get angry or rub their nose in it. This does nothing to discourage the behavior in the future.
Instead, clean it up appropriately with an enzyme cleaner to eliminate any smells. Then, redouble your efforts to reinforce proper potty behavior with praise, treats and snuggles. It also may be helpful to become more vigilant about watching your pup for signs that she needs to potty so that you can get her outside with time to spare.
Come to Doglando!
Are you looking for a safe but stimulating place for your pup to enjoy? If so, come to Doglando. We not only offer a wonderful place for dogs to explore and thrive but also comprehensive dog training classes.
Contact us today to learn more about our various programs and to get your pup involved.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.