Puppy Potty Training
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Puppy Potty training can be extremely frustrating but if you understand the fundamentals, potty training can be a piece of cake. It is important to set up a potty, play, sleep routine for your puppy and learn his cues when he needs to potty. Puppies, like children, have small bladders and can only hold their potty a limited time.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: The general rule of thumb on how long your puppy can hold his bladder is one hour longer than however many months old they are.
That means if your puppy is three months old, he can hold his bladder about four hours. Obviously, there is a cap on that rule, your one year old puppy usually can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to, hold his bladder thirteen hours. Use common sense and err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure of your puppy’s bladder control.
Dogs are generally clean animals; they do not like to potty where they eat or sleep. A crate, once familiarized, will become a den for your puppy. If you feed him his meals in it and have him sleep in it for naps and night time, he will not want to potty in it.
Crate training your puppy
Therefore, invest in a crate before your puppy even comes home (refer to crate section for size and type) and set it up in a quiet area of your home. I recommend putting it in your bedroom at first for several reasons.
– It will make your puppy feel more comfortable and safe if they know you are in the room (by sight, smell or both).
– It will be easier to know your puppy’s potty signals if you can hear him rustling around or whimpering. Third, your puppy will be nearby to take him out instead of across the house.
When your puppy comes home, familiarize him with the crate to help him feel safe and secure inside (see crate familiarization section).
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: I usually recommend not putting any kind of bedding inside the crate because the bedding will absorb any accident your puppy may have in the crate.
This would negate the uncomfortable feeling your puppy should get from pottying in his crate. If you are worried about your puppy being cold or uncomfortable, you may put a towel or light blanket inside, just check it frequently to make sure it is staying clean and your puppy isn’t chewing it up.
Once your puppy is comfortable with the crate, your potty training mission can commence.
How to recognize when your puppy needs to go potty
Puppies need to potty frequently especially when they are very young. The most predictable times are first thing in the morning, after they play hard or eat, and after waking up from a nap. Most puppies will get up and start sniffing the ground, often times in a circle. Once they find a suitable spot, they will commence with doing their “business”.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: Whenever your puppy isn’t in his crate, you should keep an eye on him.
Take your puppy potty on a leash
If he starts to sniff and circle, give a command like “let’s go potty” and take your puppy outside on a leash.
– The reason you want your puppy on leash is to prevent him from going outside and playing instead of pottying.
– Keeping him on a leash until he goes will teach him that he must potty first when he gets outside and can play after.
Once outside, give the command “go potty” or whatever command you want to use and let your puppy do his business. Immediately after he goes, give your puppy a ton of praise and a treat outside. You may then take him off leash and play a game of chase or catch or you can just let him explore.
Puppy accidents in the house
If you catch your puppy having an accident in the house:
– Clap your hands loudly and say “No! Potty outside!” and immediately take him outside on leash to finish his potty.
– Once he finishes pottying, give tons of praise and a treat outside to reinforce that pottying outside is a highly rewarding experience.
Clapping your hands and using a stern voice will startle your puppy and make it a bit scary for him to potty in the house. This is good and hopefully, he will think twice before he does it again. Depending on your dog’s temperament, it may take several weeks or months to potty train or it may only take one or two corrections total.
Be consistent in your potty training?
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: The key is to be consistent about watching your puppy and catching them in the act.
If your puppy has an accident and you discover it after the fact, it is too late to discipline your puppy. He will not understand why you are yelling and definitely, do not rub his nose in it. This is not fair to your puppy and will only make him fearful of you.
– Simply clean up the mess
– Be more diligent next time about watching your puppy
If you are doing something around the house and can’t keep an eye on your puppy, he should be in his crate. Be fair to him, though, and don’t leave him in there all day while you watch TV or read a book. Puppies have energy and need time to play and explore their environment.
Potty training at night
Expect to have to get up with your puppy a couple of times during the night with him until he gets to be about six months old or so.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: To help your puppy hold his bladder longer at night, you can take up his water about an hour or so before bedtime and don’t feed your puppy later than two hours before bedtime.
This will ensure that your puppy will go to bed with an empty bladder and will have had time to empty his bowels as well. Try to keep the activities calm before bedtime as well so that your puppy doesn’t play a lot and then need a drink.
If you are consistent about catching your puppy before he goes in the house and rewarding lavishly when he potties outside, your puppy will be potty trained in no time!