Puppies are adorable, innocent bundles of joy that receive love and adulation from most dog lovers. Potty training them, however, can be an arduous, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating experience. Don’t despair though! In this article we’ll cover eight tips for puppy potty training and how crate training your dog can also help with the housebreaking process.
Puppy Housetraining Tips
By implementing the following eight tips, you’ll have your puppy housetrained before you know it!
- Recognize that puppies have a physiological need to eliminate when they wake up, after they eat, and after they’ve been active. Take your puppy out first thing in the morning, right after he eats, as soon as he wakes up from a nap, and after he’s through playing. Frequent potty breaks are key!
- Don’t just send your pup outside and expect him to know what you want. Put him on leash and stay with him until he goes potty. Then praise him by saying, “Good go potty!” This will teach him that you want him to pee and poop outdoors.
- Be determined. If your puppy doesn’t pee or poop when you take him outside, bring him back in and put him in his crate. Try again in 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t let him loose in the house until he has eliminated outside.
- Heap on the praise. Bring a clicker and some treats with you every time you take the puppy outside. As soon as he starts to potty, click once. When he’s finished, give him a treat. Puppies learn quickly when they receive positive reinforcement for their actions.
- Understand your puppy’s physical limitations. Until a puppy matures physically, his bladder can’t hold urine for long periods. Take your puppy out as often as possible. Set a kitchen timer as a reminder to take him out every hour or two when you’re home. When you’re not home, confine him to a crate or leave him in a puppy-proofed room, preferably one with an easy-clean tile or linoleum floor. Put papers on the floor to make cleanup easy.
- Watch your puppy carefully. His body language can signal that he needs to go potty. Puppies that are good communicators may stare at you or jump up on you. Others stand at the door and look outside. Hang a bell on the door and ring it every time you take your puppy out to potty. He’ll soon learn to ring it himself when he needs to go out. If you see him sniffing and circling, hustle him outside fast!
- If your puppy has an accident inside, DO NOT punish the dog or bring attention to the accident. Simply clean up the spot with a good enzyme based cleaner to remove the odor. Accidents are simply that—accidents. As time goes on, you’ll get better at knowing the frequency in which your puppy needs to pee and poop. Remember, dogs can’t open the door and let themselves out—they depend on us to go outside. If you catch your puppy in the act of relieving himself inside, scoop him up and take him outside. Giving into the temptation of scolding your dog won’t teach him to stop relieving himself inside but could send a signal that going in the presence of people is dangerous.
- If you notice your puppy is relieving himself more frequently than usual or needing to go out more often, you should consult your veterinarian. Your vet can rule out possible medical issues, such as urinary tract infections, which may sideline your house-training efforts. UTIs are not uncommon in dogs and can be very painful. Your vet can do a simple urinalysis and provide you with medication to clear up this condition. Getting pet insurance for your new puppy can help pay for medical issues and is most effective when your pet is insured at a young age.
Using a Crate for Puppy Potty Training
A final method to potty train a new puppy is crate training, which has several advantages if you are already planning to crate train. Crates are ideal because dogs naturally don’t want to go potty in the area where they sleep.
Choose a dog crate that is large enough for the puppy to stand up in, turn around, and lay in comfortably. Keep in mind the crate is too large your dog might use one end for a bathroom area and the other end to sleep in. Buying a crate that comes with divider panels allows you to partition off a smaller area for when your dog is a puppy and hopefully avoid a side becoming a potty pad. The dividers will also allow the crate to accommodate your dog when he is full grown.
Housetraining your puppy will go more smoothly if you introduce your puppy to a crate the day you bring him home and begin housebreaking him right away. How well the process goes from there is largely up to you. Dogs learn and adopt good habits based on the consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement of their owners. Your temperament, determination, and diligence over the next few months will decide how successful your potty-training efforts will be.
Parting advice: Even if you provide your pup with the best food, toys, vet care and dog insurance, most dog owners may still struggle a bit with potty training at first. Puppies need time to grow up. Don’t expect your tail-wagger to be reliably housetrained until he’s at least a year old and has had the benefit of a consistent schedule, consistent expectations, and consistent praise when he does the right thing.
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