Let’s face it. Puppies are cute, cuddly, and a handful! They nip, yip, chew, and possibly most troublesome… go to the bathroom everywhere!
This makes house training a number one priority with the arrival of a new puppy.
Before you get started, there are a few general rules to keep in mind.
Top 10 Puppy Potty Training Reminders
- When you bring your puppy home for the first time, it is similar to bringing a baby home. Your daily life will forever be changed. You have a new creature that is 100% dependent on you. The sooner you are able to acknowledge and embrace these change, the quicker and more successful this transition will be for you and your family.
- Welcoming a puppy into your home and your life is a big commitment for all family members, especially in the early weeks and months. Your new little family member will take time, money, love, space, and patience.
- Remember that all puppies learn at their own pace. Potty training is not a race and there is no set time limit. Instead of concentrating on how long it will take, try focusing on preventing mistakes and establish good habits. Reinforcement is key with dogs.
- Dogs are not born knowing that they are supposed to go to the bathroom outside. This is a behavior that must be taught to them by their owners. We must clearly show them the right and wrong place to “do their business.”
- In the beginning, opening the back door and letting the puppy run around outside is not going to cut it as potty training. If they do happen to go, it was likely because they needed to go and would have gone inside, outside, or wherever they happened to be at that specific moment.
- While a puppy likes to mark its’ territory most like to keep their beds clean. This will make less laundry for you. However, don’t put it past your dog to go right next to their bed.
- Realize that you will need to take time off of work, or someone will have to be home with the puppy for the first few weeks. You can’t expect a new puppy, who hasn’t been house trained yet, to hold it for 10 hours.
- You may be interested to know, that a puppy can hold on an hour for every month of his/her age, plus another hour. This means that a one month old puppy can be expected to hold on for two hours and at 5 months old this same puppy could be expected to hold on for six hours at a time. This differs from one dog to another, but it is a good basic guide to go by.
Are you starting to do the math now? Don’t worry, you don’t need to take a year off of work in order to house train your puppy. There is another technique that I will teach you later about paper training your dog.
- You are going to want to control your puppies food and water. Make sure to feed your puppy at the same time each day. Also, don’t leave your dogs water bowl out at night (unless you plan waking up at 2 a.m. to take them out). Why the food and water schedule? By controlling what times food and water comes out, you will begin to learn your dogs digestive system and can time what time they will need to go out.
- Being cruel to your dog is not part of the training process. Hitting or other forms of physical punishment are ineffective and just plain mean.
- Make sure to stop at your local pet store before your new puppy comes home. You will want to have the right equipment to get off to a great start. Some items that you will want to purchase are a crate, dog bed, gates, water and food bowls, dog food, treats, and chew toys.
Getting Started on Training
Before you get started, you will want to decide where your puppy is going to go to the bathroom. Will in be the backyard, side yard, front yard?
After you have chosen the spot, you will work out your puppy potty schedule.
- Take your puppy out as soon as you wake up in the morning. This will be most effective if you awake at the same time each morning.
- Put a leash on your puppy (this will assist you in leading them to the correct area) and take them out every 60 minutes.
- Walk directly to the potty area. Continue to walk and circle around the spot and command to your puppy to do the potty. You will want to be consistent with your command word or phrase.
- Here are a few that you can chose from or create your own: hurry up, do your business, do the potty, get done, go break. Whichever phrase you choose; make sure that all dog caregivers in the home use the same phrase.
- Once your puppy does begin to go, keep repeating your command phrase or word. Immediately after they are done, praise and reward him with a small tasty treat. Let your puppy know how happy you are with him/her and that they did a great job. When you are done, make sure to place him back in his crate or pen area.
- What happens if your puppy doesn’t go?
If after 5 minutes of circling around your puppy has not gone to the bathroom, go back inside and put him back inside his gated area or crate.
You should try again in 20 minutes until your puppy is successful.
- Although these once an hour potty breaks may seem excessive, they are crucial to teaching your puppy the proper way to “eliminate.” Remember that you are trying to avoid accidents. We want to reinforce the good potty behavior.
- Not only will you want to take your puppy out every 60 minutes, but it is important to take your puppy outside after each meal time. Most puppies go to the potty within 15 minutes of eating.
- Okay, so you probably want to know how you can keep up these 60 minute sessions overnight, right? You may not like the answer. Yes, it will include you waking up, but no, not every 60 minutes.
Now for a few extra pointers …
- Make sure not to feed your puppy before bed
- Take away his/her water bowl
- Set your alarm one to two times at night
Remember, when your puppy is young it is physically impossible for him to hold on all night…
After a few months, you will start to learn your puppy’s bathroom behaviors and you will be able to modify this routine. It won’t be long before your puppy is asking to go out.
This brings me to my final thoughts on puppy house training. While some owners are able to install a doggie door, many others are not. If you do not have a way for your dog to go in and out to the bathroom (yard) by themselves, then you will need to show them how to ask to go out.
Asking To Go Out
Our first dog use to scratch lightly at the door. I’m actually surprised that my parents accepted this technique because of the wear and tear of the door. Some people just wait for their dogs to go to the door and bark or jump. This is really a personal decision. Another proven technique is to train your dog to ring a bell.
- Hang a bell on a piece of string attached to the door handle (at the level of your puppy’s nose).
- Adhere to the puppy house training schedule as described above but now every time you get to the door to go outside give the bell a bit of a shake and say “go potty”.
- Repeat this every time you take your puppy outside to the bathroom for a few weeks
- After two weeks when you arrive at the door say “go potty” but don’t touch the bell.
- See if the puppy will move the bell with his nose. If he does, praise him and open the door. If your puppy doesn’t nudge the bell after waiting 10 seconds, ring the bell yourself while saying “go potty”.
- Repeat this process until your puppy understands
- Soon enough your little puppy will go to the door and ring the bell all on his/her own.