Are you thrilled at the prospect of having a furry friend around the house? There’s no question about it, getting a dog is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Your puppy will brighten up your life exponentially. Unconditional love, hours of playtime, and perpetual good cheer will all be waiting for you at the door when you arrive home each day.
But dog ownership isn’t all rainbows and roses, especially if your dog is young and still needs potty training. There’s a lot of work which goes in to housebreaking a new puppy, and you may not know where to start.
The good news is, we do. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide on how to potty train a puppy. Read on to discover everything you need to know to housetrain your new best friend, including tactics to make the whole process easier and things you must avoid.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: Understanding Breeds And Age
A lack of proper training, especially potty training, is one of the most
common reasons why so many dogs are given away to shelters. You don’t want that for your gorgeous new friend, so why not start yourself off with some baseline knowledge? Let’s dive into breed, age, and previous conditions.
Small Breed vs. Large Breed
Before you begin the process, you need to know how your dog’s breed will affect training. Keep in mind that smaller breeds make even smaller puppies, and they have smaller bladders (and a quicker metabolism) to go along with their stature. Housetraining will be more labor-intensive, because your dog will simply need to go to the bathroom more often.
Larger breeds have a slower metabolism, and can “hold it” for longer periods of time in their larger bladders. That means they may be easier to housetrain.
Puppy’s Age And Previous Conditions
The age of your puppy will also come into play, as will the conditions
your dog was subjected to before he or she arrived into your caring and nurturing arms. If your puppy came from a place where he had to stay in a crate most of the time, it could take longer to housetrain him because he’ll be accustomed to going potty in the crate.
As far as age goes, don’t expect too much too soon. Web MD suggests waiting until your dog is 12-16 weeks old before you begin potty training. Before this, your pup just may not have any control over their bodily functions and training may only frustrate and discourage both pet and owner.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: Establishing Boundaries
The first thing you have to do when you bring your puppy home is to establish boundaries within the house. This includes cutting off all access to places where you don’t want him to go. It will also help you keep an eye on him while you’re at home.
When you leave home, it’s a good idea to put him into a crate or other kennel inside your house. Make sure that your puppy has only enough room to sit or stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s against your dog’s instincts to go potty where he sleeps. If you give him a roomier enclosure, he will go to the bathroom on one end and hang around at the opposite end — and that’s not helping anyone.
It’s imperative you be careful while employing this method of potty training. You need to be able to come home and let your BFF out of the crate every so often, or he will be forced to soil himself. Dogs definitely don’t like that, and you won’t either.
Expect to take your dog outside every 4 to 6 hours, or 5 to 6 times per day. Keep in mind that there is no set number of times your dog needs to potty. You need to be observant and look for the signs of an oncoming necessity.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: Learning The Signs
There are a few good indicators that your puppy needs the potty. These include any sudden changes in behavior, especially abrupt cessation of an activity and the start of nervous behavior. Your puppy may exhibit several signs:
- Pawing at the pelvic region
If you see any of these activities, it’s time to take your pup outside. Once you’ve begun a routine of taking him outside to do his business, he may even scratch at the door.
Accidents happen, and it’s almost inevitable that your pet will go potty in the house, on occasion. If you see your dog sniffing around or heading towards a place where they have previously gone potty, they could be looking to return there for some repeat business.
Make sure you nip that in the bud by using an enzyme-based cleaner to clean the area thoroughly when your dog goes inside the house. This will help eliminate the odor thoroughly so that your pet won’t be able to find the spot again.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: Establish A Mealtime Routine
One of the most important things to do when learning how to potty train a puppy is establishing a routine. You’ll never be able to control
when your dog goes to the bathroom, but you can get a general idea of when it might be by putting them on a feeding schedule.
A schedule will add order and routine to the life of your new bestie, and it will make bathroom time a more predictable occurrence. Remember, your pup’s digestive system works much differently from your own. 5-30 minutes after eating, he’ll need to go outside.
It’s a bad idea to give your pet food whenever the bowl is empty, especially if the dog is very young. That’s because they may not be aware of how much space they actually have inside of them, and they’ll eat too much.
They’ll also poop too much. It’s incredibly frustrating to walk around all day in the wake of your pup, cleaning up poop and disinfecting the floor. Save yourself the trouble and establish a feeding schedule.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: Potty Routine
Just like mealtime, potty must be a routine occurrence. That doesn’t mean you only take your pup out at certain times. If he needs to go, he needs to go. That might be at any time — puppies can be unpredictable.
But once you get the feeding schedule down, you’ll be able to know more or less when he’ll need to go, and you can plan your day accordingly.
Besides being more convenient for you, the routine is more convenient for you pup also. After your dog learns the potty routine, he himself will be able to discern when you’re likely to take him out. This will enable him to hold it for a bit longer, avoiding messes in the house.
So, should you let him loose and allow him to go anywhere? Nope. You should have a designated area of the yard for your dog to relieve himself in, and take him there each time you take him out for the potty routine. He’ll want to relieve himself near the smell of his previous eliminations. Even if you scoop the poop, the smell will linger, and he’ll know he’s in an approved area.
How To Potty Train A Puppy: The Nurturing Owner
When learning how to potty train a puppy, it’s imperative you use positive reinforcement to give your pup guidance and love.
Remember, this is a difficult time for your dog as well. He is in a new place and may feel a bit overwhelmed, so give him love and praise for even the smallest accomplishments.
Especially after he goes to the bathroom in the approved area, you’ll want to let him know he’s done well. It’s a good idea to choose a single word or phrase to say, like “good boy!” or “awesome job!”. That way, he’ll associate that specific verbalization with potty time and know he’s done well.
Many people will be tempted to give their dog treats for housetraining, but that might actually do more harm than good. That’s because giving a treat right after potty time can be counterproductive to the dog’s potty schedule. Give treats when training for other things. When potty training, verbal praise is enough.
How To Train A Puppy: Avoid These Mistakes
There are certain unproductive things you might be tempted to do when learning how to potty train a puppy. Actions to avoid include:
- Leaving your dog alone: Don’t leave your friend alone before he’s housetrained. He will go potty at any time, all over the floor, and be unable to understand why you’re unhappy with him.
- Getting angry and yelling: Your pup may not be able to understand the actual reason why you’re screaming, and assume that going potty is shameful. He’ll start to hide it around the house, and you may not be able to find it.
- Getting physical: Never get physical with your dog. Taking him roughly by the collar or putting his nose in his own excrement will not help to train him. It will only make him afraid of you and ashamed of potty time.
Follow These Tips For A Happy, Healthy, Potty-Trained Pup
Now that you know how to potty train a puppy, you’ll be able to rest easy in no time. Your dog will be happy, and you’ll no longer have to worry about messes. So, what are you waiting for? Get started with your furry friend today.