Bringing home your new puppy is an exciting time! You have found the perfect puppy and the newest addition to your family. Potty training your puppy can be tough especially if you’re not doing it properly. The key to success here is consistency, patience, and time. It’s going to take those three things in order for you to be successful in potty training your new love. Puppies thrive on a schedule just like our children do. For starters, you will need to be dedicated and committed to making this work for both of you.
A lot of times people give up on the puppy without exhausting all of the options they have and putting forth the effort. Inability to potty train a puppy is the number one reason most dogs end up unwanted and in shelters, at no fault of their own. This is going to be one of the most crucial steps in having a happy home with your puppy. The process can be stress-free once you have the knowledge. I’ve potty trained many puppies successfully and is actually easy once you know how to do so efficiently.
Potty Training Basics
First, you need to determine a schedule for your puppy. You want to aim to feed your puppy at the same time each day. Your puppy is going to need to go out each time they eat, sleep, or play. Ideally, you should take your new puppy out every 30 minutes to hourly intervals until they are large enough to hold it longer. Puppies are pretty predictable once you have been around them long enough and this will help the process along. A routine set for feeding, sleeping, potty breaks, and playing each day will lead to more success.
A puppy usually isn’t fully potty trained until at least 6 months of age. So be prepared for accidents along the way, it’s normal. Stay focused on the progress you are making rather than punishing your puppy when they have an accident. Puppies do better with positive reinforcement, this is where patience is key. They depend on us to teach them, in the den things are a lot different. They don’t just come to our homes knowing exactly what you expect from them.
The older your puppy gets the longer they will be able to control their bladders and you won’t have to take them out as often. Typically the smaller the dog the smaller the bladder and the frequency will be more often. The general rule is your puppy can hold their bladder for however many months they are old. For example, if your puppy is 2 months old it shouldn’t be left longer than 2 hours without having access to the designated potty area. You may even need to get up at night and take your puppy out for the first little bit until a routine is well established.
Supervision & Accidents
Successful potty training is only possible with proper supervision. You need to keep eyes on your new puppy at all times until you have a well-established routine in place. New puppies need to go to the bathroom more frequently. You will need to watch for key signs that they need to go out, sometimes there won’t be any. Sniffing, going off alone, whining, and spinning in circles are all key signs. Every puppy is different, learn from yours what to watch for.
As long as you are faithfully taking them out every thirty minutes, they will soon learn that you want them to potty outside. It is a huge responsibility and no one really wants to have to go outside every 30 minutes. But trust me, this is the key to your longterm success in having a well trained, house-broken pup. Watching your puppy at all times will prevent a lot of accidents, you can catch them in the act and run them outside before it happens.
If you catch your puppy during an accident tell them no and immediately get them outside. We don’t want to scare our puppy, however, we want to let them know we don’t allow them using the bathroom inside. There will be accidents and that should be expected. It all falls on us to correct this behavior and teach your dog where to go.
Clean up any accidents your puppy has immediately. This way they won’t associate the smell and try to go in the same place again. I remove all rugs in my home when potty training a puppy. They can sometimes confuse rugs as pee pads or think this is a place they should use the bathroom. By removing them we eliminate the risk of an accident.
Supervision is easiest when your puppy is confined to one area of your home. It can be hard to keep your dog in your sight all the time when they have full and free access to the entire house. Make use of a puppy playpen or gates to shut a room off so that you can better keep an eye on your little love. Close all bedroom doors and doors where your dog could wander off to alone and out of sight. If you don’t have a playpen or gates you can choose to put your dog on a leash. It might sound silly but leash training in the house is actually an efficient and effective way to train your puppy. The leash can be useful in all training aspects, whether it be potty or obedience training. The leash allows you full control over your puppy and in turn they will do what is expected of them. Be sure to practice praise and treats any time your puppy does anything right. This is how they learn.
Feed your puppy at the same time every day. Unlike water, your new puppy won’t need a bowl of food sitting out all of the time. Instead, just feed the recommended amount for your puppies age, and weight and they should eat it at once. You will want them to have access to fresh water at all times, however. Keep an eye on the amount of water they are consuming as when they drink water they are going to need to relieve themselves. Anytime your puppy finishes a meal or has water it is suggested to get them outside, they will need to go.
Praise and Treats
All dogs learn better with positive reinforcement. Scolding and punishment often leave a dog confused as to what they even did. They don’t understand things like humans do and don’t intentionally do things to make you mad. Potty training isn’t any different, as you want to praise and reward your dog every time they go outside for you. It won’t take them long to realize what you expect from them, dogs are eager to please and will do so anytime they can.
Now that we have some ground rules in place, let’s establish our routine and stick to it. There are several ways you can successfully housebreak a puppy. You are going to want to do so in a way that fits in with your lifestyle and home. I recommend housebreaking a dog to go outside, however, with city apartments and things this may not always be possible. This is where crate training comes into play and it’s based on the same concept only your dog will be going to a designated area within the house.
Luckily we have puppy pads and treats for this type of training too. They even make grass patches you can get delivered to your home for housebreaking your puppy now. It’s just like them going in the grass only it will be confined in a designated space in your home. You want to make sure the area you choose indoors is an easily accessible area. Ideally where your puppy would spend most of his time.
If you need to you can work between crate training and outdoor training and have your puppy doing both. In time you can transition them to fully going outside if you need to. With anything, you do with your puppy, be patient and consistent. Your puppy can’t learn if you are constantly changing routines and expectations. Your new puppy is going to be a lot of work and responsibility. It is going to take all family members on board and on the same page to get results. With time your puppy will learn and fit in with your family perfectly. All of the hard work pays off when you have a well trained and well-behaved dog down the road.
I use the word “go potty” to associate my dog and going to the bathroom outside. Dogs are highly intelligent and will quickly learn basic commands. You will want to use basic commands to teach your puppy right from wrong. Anytime they are doing something wrong the word, “no” or “stop” should be used. Then anytime you are taking your dog out say go potty and they will pick up on this command and in turn, do what is expected of them. Only use the commands when you are actually wanting your dog to go outside to avoid any confusion.
Potty Training when You are Not home
Make use of the crate when you are not in the home or can’t be eyes on at all times with your puppy. Try to limit your puppies exposure to the crate, nothing over 4 hours at a time. If you have to take a lunch or have someone else come and let your dog out to relieve themselves. Don’t ever use the crate for punishment or if you simply don’t feel like dealing with the dog.
You want their crate to be a safe and welcoming place for your dog to go to rest. Ideally, your puppy should want to spend time in their crate and look forward to doing so. You can leave the crate door open when you’re at home and encourage your puppy to spend time inside. By putting down a soft crate mat, and adding a toy or two your puppy will want to go in. Work on getting your puppy familiar with the crate before shutting the door or leaving them in it.
It can be a lot harder to properly potty train your puppy when you aren’t there to take it out. Make sure you are prepared to adjust accordingly for situations when everyone in the home is to be gone. Make arrangements with a friend or family member to help puppy sit for times when you are away from home more than usual. The more your puppy has access to their designated potty area the easier it is going to be on getting the entire process down pat. The more you make yourself available to take the puppy out the faster your success in training will be.
It takes time
Don’t give up on your puppy. Even old dogs can learn new things. Potty training should be a rewarding experience for you and your puppy. Just remember in order to achieve results you have to put in the work and time. Don’t expect your puppy to know what is expected of them without the proper training first. It doesn’t happen overnight, and can sometimes take months. Remain consistent in your routine and continue progressing. Taking your puppy out as often as needed to avoid accidents will make all of the difference. Your schedule should be your main focus at this point. Reward your puppy with lots of love and praise anytime they go outside or to the designated area. With time and your dedication, you’re on your way to having a properly trained family member. It’s not going to be easy, expect a little hard work with rewarding results!