Potty training a puppy — and cleaning up the inevitable accidents — is one of the most frustrating aspects of raising a young dog. Knowing the right approaches to take, and the wrong ones to avoid, can make the process much easier for both you and your pup.
With patience, consistency, and love, you can train your puppy to eliminate outside. Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do to make potty training your dog successful.
1. CREATE A SCHEDULE AND COMMIT TO IT
One of the best ways to train a puppy to go to the bathroom outside is to develop a plan so that the dog learns when and where to eliminate as a habit. Create a schedule for you and your puppy, and be consistent in following it each day to boost her confidence and to build trust between you both.
First, make sure the puppy eats at the same time every day, and then take her outside a short while after she has eaten. She will associate going to the bathroom outside every time after she eats. Two solid meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, will reduce the number of occasions a puppy has to eliminate.
If you are working late and are unable to get your dog outside after she eats, consider hiring a dog walker or ask your neighbor for help.
2. CONSIDER CRATE TRAINING AS A SOLUTION
Crate training a puppy is one of the most successful ways to potty train a dog. Using this proven method, your dog learns to view the crate as her personal space, a “den” like her ancestors had.
Dogs don’t want to eliminate in their sleeping area; therefore crate training also has the added benefit of potty training by encouraging a dog to control her bladder and bowels.
Just remember to choose a crate that is large enough for your puppy to turn around, stand up, and lie down, but not too big for letting her use a far corner as a toilet.
3. DEVELOP A SPECIAL CODE WORD FOR YOUR PUP
As with other commands that you train your dog to obey, choose a short word or phrase to associate with eliminating outside. Words or phrases like “go potty” or “do your duty” will work just fine. Be consistent in your choice of code word so as not to confuse the puppy.
4. GIVE YOUR DOG PLENTY OF PRAISE
Make sure that you praise your puppy when she does eliminate properly outside. You want to let her know that she has done well, and praise will encourage her to do the same thing again.
Praise her in a cheerful but reasonably toned voice. You may even want to reward her with a small treat or some pats on the head after she has done her business.
Remember to praise your dog immediately after she has gone potty, so she understands why she is being rewarded.
5. BE PATIENT
Always keep in mind that your puppy is still a baby who is learning as fast as she can. When accidents do happen, and they will, remember that it takes puppies upwards of six months to become fully potty trained.
Even then, expect occasional accidents to occur once in awhile. Be patient and compassionate; your dog will learn potty training with time.
Now that you know what to do to potty train a pup, here are some actions to avoid:
6. DON’T PUNISH YOUR PUPPY FOR AN ACCIDENT
Accidents are going to happen, but scolding, yelling, or hitting your dog because of a mistake will do nothing but frighten the pup and damage the trust the dog has in you. Puppies need time to learn where and when to go, so remain calm and know that this phase will pass.
7. DON’T STRETCH THE LIMITS OF BLADDER CAPACITY
Puppies have small bladders. Most pups under seven months old can hold their bladders for approximately the same number of hours as their age. Don’t demand more from your dog than she can physically do, and never make a dog hold her bladder for more than seven hours, especially if you are crate training.
8. DON’T FEED YOUR DOG A LOW-QUALITY DIET
Your puppy’s digestive health will reflect the type of food you feed to her. Avoid low-quality foods that are dominated by fillers and by-products. Kriser’s carefully selects its food to make sure that your pet is getting the absolute best, so if you’re purchasing any one of our brands you will be fine. Other low-quality foods will wreak havoc on a puppy’s digestive system, and cause her to have to eliminate more frequently.
9. AVOID TRAINING WITH PUPPY PADS OR NEWSPAPERS (WHEN POSSIBLE)
Using puppy pads or newspapers to catch indoor accidents might seem like a good idea, but it can confuse your dog who may now think it’s acceptable to eliminate inside the house.
Unless you live on the top floor of a high rise, train your puppy to go potty outside and prevent any misunderstandings.
Puppy potty training is difficult, but with some common sense, patience, and consistency on your part, your puppy will master this challenge. Good luck!
*This is a special guest post by Alexandra Seagal, editor for Animalso.com