The most common questions I get from new puppy owners are about potty training. So, I thought I would make an article about it.
Tips to Remember:
Puppy Pads – Big No-No!
–DON’T use puppy pads or any other paper training. This is teaching the dog it is still ok to go in the house. Crate training is a better alternative.
–DON’T expect too much too soon. Puppies take a few months to be reliable in the house. Puppies have very little control over their bladder until they are over 6 months old.
-If you bring the dog outside, and it doesn’t’ eliminate, even though it is showing signs of needing to go, take him/her back inside, and crate for 10-15 minutes. Then, take him out to the same place again.
–DON’T assume that because your dog didn’t go outside, that he won’t go inside. Make sure to supervise your dog AT ALL TIMES at least for the first year they are in the house.
–DO keep your dog on a leash EVERY TIME they are outside. Walk outside with your dog, wait patiently in the area you want them to eliminate, and then praise calmly when they are done. THEN, let the dog of the leash (if in a fenced area) to play for a few minutes. You want to teach the ‘fun outside playtime’ is a reward for relieving itself rather than ending the fun when the puppy does his business outside.
-As soon as your dog starts to eliminate in the house, quickly move the dog outside, and then praise if she/he continues to go when they are outside.
–DON’T let your dog see you clean up a mess in the house. This gives them the idea you will always be there to clean it up.
–REMEMBER: House training incidents are the human’s mistake, not the dog’s. NEVER get angry or upset with your dog for having accidents in the house.
Your dog will not eliminate in places where he/she is not allowed to go. Using a crate is an excellent way to quickly housetrain. Does will generally not go to the bathroom where they sleep. MAKE SURE your dog is safely confined when you cannot watch them 100% of the time. This is CRUCIAL to their success while they are in training.
You can also use the ‘Umbilical Cord Method’.
Connect a 6 foot leash to yourself (belt, pants, etc) and have it connected it to you wherever you go. Your dog should be hooked up on the leash, and be following you everywhere.
Instead of waiting for potty signals from the dog, take the dog outside every hour. Use the verbal cue “Want to go outside?” in a happy tone when you get to the door. ALWAYS USE THE SAME DOOR IN THE BEGINNING.
When the dog eliminates, praise calmly, but enthusiastically.
Whenever the dog is not in the crate, he should be attached to you. If be begins to eliminate in your presence, correct him with a loud ‘eh-eh!’ to distract him. As soon as you have his attention, lead him outside. Then praise when he does go outside.
10 days with no accidents – disconnect leash, and limit freedom. Dog needs to stay in the same room (within visual distance). 100% SUPERVISION IS STILL CRUCIAL. Continue this step for 30 days.
30 days no accidents – you can allow more freedom. Confine to the dog to 1 room + an additional room. DO NOT give freedom to the entire house. He can be alone in these 2 rooms for a short period of time. Be sure to crate if you leave the house, even for a few minutes. Continue to take out every hour, and continue to praise when he goes outside. Continue this for 30 days.
NO accidents for 60 days: He can now be given free reign of the house. But still should be crated when you leave the house.
If there are accidents during the training, go back a step and start there. If there is another accident after you already took a step back, take another step back and try again.
Having a consistent schedule for food, water, walks, and elimination will help your dog learn the patterns, and decrease the time it takes for them to learn to not go in the house. Here are some tips on building a schedule:
–DO NOT leave food and water all day. Have mealtimes. I recommend (and this varies depending on situation, what food they are on, etc.) feeding twice a day. Once a day is fine as well, if they are eating dry kibble. But either way – have a mealtime. Give them 15 minutes to eat, and then take the rest away. You can better predict when your dog needs to go to the bathroom based on when they ate/drank last.
WATER: This is tricky for some, because you don’t think about it. When potty training, personally, I also limit the water intake. I offer it with food, always. I offer it at times throughout the day, at least until potty training is a bit more reliable. Eventually, you will want to offer water all day.
-Puppies tend to eliminate a few minutes before or after drinking water or eating. Their elimination schedule looks something like this:
-When they first wake up in the morning.
-After playing, or something during playtime.
-After a nap.
-Right after drinking, and/or eating.
-Sometimes before eating.
-After chewing on a bone or toy.
-If he hasn’t been out for an hour or two.
-Puppies are still developing bladder control, so be patient with them!! It’s not their fault, they are still learning!
-This process works for adult dogs, too!
Always praise calmly, but enthusiastically when your dog eliminates outside in the correct place. This will ‘mark’ or teach the behavior, and they will want to earn the reward (praise) next time.
-Make sure to praise right when your dog is going. NOT when they come inside. Otherwise, they think they are being praised for coming inside with you. This is a good thing too, but not relevant for house training.
In case of an accident
Now, when you dog does go on your favorite rug, or on the couch, understand they did it for one reason. To pee! Dogs aren’t capable of feeling “mad” or “vengeful”, they aren’t doing it “in spite of” you. With the exceptions of territorial urine marking, illness, or (rarely) separation distress syndrome, dogs go to the bathroom in the house for one reason: they have never been properly housetrained by the owner.
–NEVER use treats as a reward for potty training, as this can cause some confusion when you wean them
off the treats. They won’t understand why they aren’t getting them anymore.
–NEVER yell or hit your dog for eliminating in the incorrect place.
–NEVER rub your dog’s nose in it either. Punishment doesn’t help training. All it does it teach the dog your presence is a dangerous thing.
So, how do you correct them if they start going in the house?
If they start to go in the house, make an ‘eh-eh!’ sound or clap your hands to distract them. As soon as you have their attention, scoop them up, put on a leash, and then run outside. When your dog finishes, praise calmly, but enthusiastically.
If you want to teach your dog to go in a certain area of the yard, use a verbal cue, like ‘Go Potty!’, ‘Get Busy’, etc. Say this as soon as he starts eliminating so he can associate those words with going to the bathroom.
You want to make sure you get a cleaner that actually removes the odor enzymes as well as the stain. If it smells like the last time they eliminated, they will want to go in the same place over and over again.
–DON’T use any cleaning supplies that have ammonia in them, as ammonia acts like an attractor, and your dog will want to mark it again.
-Woolite Pet & Oxygen
***NOTE: Many people also ask about using a bell on the door. This is also easily trainable, but requires additional consistency, and you have to make sure you use the dog’s paws or nose on the bell EVERY TIME you ask ‘Do you want to go outside?’ to teach the dog this means the same thing as the verbal cue.