Teaching your new puppy where and when to relieve themself is one of the most important lessons they will learn in their young life. Potty training is essential not only for your carpets but for the health and hygiene of your whole family. Luckily, experts have broken down how to potty train a puppy into easy-to-follow steps.
Like most dog training, patience and consistency are essential to an easy, relatively painless experience when potty-training your puppy. Some other key factors to make your puppy’s potty training experience easier:
- Controlled diet: Feed your puppy consistent amounts at the same time every day. Do not just fill his bowl every time it is empty or leave food around all the time.
- Keep a schedule: Plan on letting your puppy out to relieve themself at around the same time every day.
- Provide regular exercise: this helps regulate their schedule.
- Provide positive reinforcement: when your puppy does their business when and where they’re supposed to, let them know you’re pleased! Even a simple “good boy/girl!” will get your message across. To read more about positive reinforcement, click here.
There are two main methods when it comes to how to potty train a puppy: crate training and paper training. We will discuss both.
Most people unfamiliar with canine behavior cringe when you mention a crate. They envision how sad a dog must feel to be locked in a small cage all day.
On the contrary, dogs evolved from wolves, and wolves are den animals. Wolves are born into and grow up in dens dug into the earth by their mother. These small, dark holes equate to safety and comfort for a young wolf. Likewise, a correctly-sized crate with a cover or blanket draped over it becomes your dog’s personal “den,” a safe place of quiet and comfort. To read more about wolf dens, click here.
The idea behind crate training is that as their personal den, dogs will not want to soil their crate. This is their home and safe place; they do not want to pee in their bed any more than you do.
Get the Right Size Crate
Crates should be appropriately-sized for your puppy. Your puppy should be able to lay down, stand up, and turn around with ease.
If your crate is too large, your puppy may feel comfortable relieving themself in a corner. If the crate is too small your puppy will be uncomfortable. Many crates come with partitions so that you can adjust the size to suit your puppy as he or she grows. Read this article for more information on the different types of crates.
Go-Time For Your Puppy
When it’s time for your puppy to relieve themself, they will often whine or paw at the door to the crate. Do not delay taking your puppy out because if they lose control and relieves themself in the crate, they will think it’s ok to soil their little house which leads to them thinking it’s ok to soil your house too.
As soon as you let your puppy out of their crate, take them outside immediately. Set your puppy up for success so that you can praise your puppy for doing their business outside.
Each time your puppy relieves themself outside and is positively praised by you, the chances of this behavior repeating itself increase. Your puppy will come to understand that outside is where you would like them to go when their needs arise.
Paper training is the use of “puppy pads” as an alternative place for your puppy to relieve themself when outside is not an option, i.e. when you are not home. The problem with this method is that you are providing 2 different options for your puppy instead of one clear area where he or she can potty: outside.
The benefit of paper training comes for those who cannot make it home often enough to let their puppy outside to relieve themselves. As your puppy matures, puppy pads can be phased out until your dog only relieves themself outside. Here is a list of the best puppy pads on the market.
When to Take Your Puppy to Potty
As a rule of thumb, puppies can hold their bladder as many hours as they are months old, so a 2-month-old puppy needs a potty break approximately every 2 hours. This may mean more than 12 potty breaks each day!
Each puppy’s individual needs may vary, so pay attention to how often your puppy shows signs of needing to go potty.
Plan on taking your puppy out every time:
- You wake up in the morning
- Before you head to bed each night
- He/she wakes up from a nap
- He/she completes a play session
- He/she drinks water or eats
- He/she chews a bone or toy
- He/she spends time in his/her crate
Be sure to observe your puppy closely for signs they may need to go out. Do not leave them unsupervised or let them wander out of your sight.
The more you take your puppy for potty breaks, the fewer accidents they will have and the faster they will learn when and where to go potty. If you cannot be home during the day to give your puppy a break, consider a doggy-daycare or dog-walker. Read about the pros and cons of daycares and dogwalkers here.
How To Deal With Accidents
Accidents will happen, there’s no getting around it. You will lose sight of your puppy for 20 seconds, 2 hours will pass without your notice, or any other combination of factors will lead to your puppy relieving themself where they aren’t supposed to. How you react to these accidents is crucial to the development and potty training of your puppy.
- Take a deep breath
- Blot liquid up if there’s carpet involved
- Clean up the mess
- Use a cleaner with odor-eliminating properties (so they don’t reuse the same spot)
- Try to recognize what led to the accident
- Recognize signs your puppy needs a potty break before an accident happens next time
- Take your puppy outside to make sure there’s nothing left in their tank
- Get angry
- Scold your puppy
- Rub your puppy’s face in their mess
- Kick your puppy outside, alone
Scolding your puppy does not teach them that relieving themselves in the house is bad, only that relieving themselves is bad. Next time they will simply try to hide their accident better, and relieving themselves, inside or outside, will become a stressful, anxiety-filled occurrence. Scolding your puppy can only set back their training. Stay calm and know that tomorrow is another day.
Knowing how to potty train a puppy is essential once you’ve brought your new furbaby home. It doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. Take the time to get to know your new puppy, watch for signs, and follow a consistent schedule for feeding and potty breaks. Whether you crate train or use puppy pads, consistency and patience are the keys to success and a potty-trained puppy!