Potty training a puppy is a stage we all have to go through, and it’s bundled with good surprises and a lot of frustrating moments, too. Potty training is an essential part of his education and it must be done properly right from the start. Nobody wants their dog’s excrements on the couch. That much is for sure.
Before you adopt a puppy, it’s best to do at least some basic research regarding their breed and how to potty train a puppy. You will avoid a lot of mistakes if you know how to treat, train and feed him/her.
Housetraining depends on aspects such as age, learning history, consistency and the techniques used to form a well-rounded dog. The breeder has an important contribution on the basics of potty-training etiquette. If your puppy wasn’t well-educated, you need to break his old habits and help him form proper ones.
There are various methods used to potty train a puppy, but only some of them are effective and quick. Crate training and frequent outdoor trips yield the best results when it comes to potty training a new puppy.
Let’s take a look at some tips to make the entire process easier, so both you and your pup live happily together and form a strong bond.
Choose a proper period to start potty training
Usually, a puppy needs 4-6 months to be fully house trained. Small breeds are famous for their smaller bladders and higher metabolisms. The best age to start potty training is between 12 weeks and 16 weeks when a puppy has enough control of his bladder.
Do not use the age as an excuse if you are welcoming an untrained older puppy! It’s never too late to start proper housetraining and yes, it may be harder and take more time, but the puppy will eventually be potty trained.
Use a defined indoor space
If you are busy and cannot supervise your pup all day long, choose small areas such as a crate or a confined space in a room. You could also use a leash to avoid elimination. A crate is excellent for house training as you can supervise your puppy and take him out whenever he shows signs of elimination. Refresh his water every two hours and let him out at least once a day for the first 8 months.
On the very same token, crate training gets your puppy accustomed to traveling periods, vet visits and makes him feel safe. Dogs are clean animals that don’t like urine soaked rug in their space, so you can use an adjustable crate that is large enough to lie down, stand up and turn around. Point out the places that you want your pup to pee and poo and scold him whenever he goes “off-limits”. Once your puppy starts to learn that he has to go out to do his business, your job will become easier and easier.
Puppies whine, sniff, bark and scratch when they need to pee or poo, so pay attention to these types of signals. If you notice even one of them, take him out right away.
Establish a rigorous and healthy diet
A proper diet will make it easier for you to potty train your little fellow. Puppies have fragile digestive systems that can’t face chaotic meals. Feed your pup three times a day with high-quality dog food that goes well with his breed.
Generally, puppies need to defecate 5 to 30 minutes after eating. Pay attention to the stool consistency. Bulky, loose and stinky stool indicates the need to change the diet, while diarrhea may be caused by overfeeding. For stools, there are the four C’s that every owner should pay attention to:
Read more about what your pup’s poo should look like on PetMD.
Stick to a consistent schedule
A consistent feeding schedule accelerates the formation of good potty habits and gets puppies on the right track more quickly. A useful tip is to take away his food between meals so they learn that whatever is not finished will disappear. If you are a busy worker, you may have to look into automatic dog feeders in order to ensure a consistent feeding schedule.
Puppies have control over their bladder one hour for every month of age.
Take your pup outside as often as you can
Puppies are well-known for their small bladders and frequent trips outdoors. Young puppies have to be taken out to pee and poo many times a day: early in the morning, late at night, after waking up from a nap, eating and drinking, and sometimes even after chewing a toy.
Yes, if you do it the right way, you will end up bringing your puppy outside over a dozen times each day. You puppy will not pee or poo each time you bring him or her out, but if your timing is good, your pup will do it outside every time they need to. They will associate pee, poo, and outdoor grass, and will away that outing the next time they want to eliminate.
Pick certain spots outdoors
When taking your pup outdoors, choose a specific spot for your puppy to defecate. Your pup will remember it afterwards by using his own scent. Use specific words before going outside so your pup becomes accustomed to his new public bathroom.
Walks, rewards and playtime after he’s done pooping will let him know that he was a good pup. Don’t leave him alone outside until he is fairly well-trained and at least a bit matured. Don’t be overprotective, either. Socialization is important for dogs.
Make sure he's physically active
Exercise goes hand in hand with other tactics used to get a well-rounded and fully house-trained pup. Walks and play sessions, both indoors and outdoors, are highly recommended to keep your puppy motivated, consume his energy and stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Staying outside longer gives your pup extra time to explore and decreases the chance of accidents happening.
Use common sense if you bring your puppy outside for a long play session: if your puppy pees at the beginning, come back home only once they pee. However, you do not want them to associate eliminating with coming back home, so kill some time before getting back inside!
Pay close attention to your pup
Watch your pup carefully to spot his own signs of wanting to defecate and try to spot some patterns. Each pup is unique in his own way and some of them need to be taken out more often than others.
Some puppies need to poop every time they play or get excited. Others will pee as soon as somebody comes home. I remember a puppy who was literally peeing every single time they chewed on a toy for a couple of minutes. Even if there are odd ones, the main times are at wake up and after meals.
Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement and an assertive attitude are the keys to get effective results. Praising your pup for doing things right will make him repeat the same actions, so reward him with cookies and positive words when he or she eliminates in the right spot.
Do not overreact if, on the contrary, your puppy does it in the wrong spot (i.e. indoors) — if such situations occur, ignore, clean up, and reward the next time it happens outside!
Keep your calm when accidents happen
As explained above, if your pup has an accident, clean the mess quickly and use special cleaners to remove the odors and to prevent further incidents.
Now, if you catch him in the act, clap loudly, pick him up quickly and take him outside. Give him praise and attention after elimination. If the accident already happened, don’t react aggressively as your pup cannot connect your reaction with his accident so you are just giving your pooch anxiety for no reason.
Find someone to look after your pup
If you can’t stay at home all day long, it would be a good idea to find a person to take care of your puppy, especially in the first months of adoption. The dog sitter should take him out and feed him according to his already-formed schedule.
It is also a good thing for your dog to learn how to be clean regardless of who is at home! What matters is to wait for peeing and pooing outside, whether it is with the regular owner or a friend.
Use alternative potty training solutions
Modern potty training solutions, in the form of dog cages equipped with designated places for feeding, defecating and peeing, are a good way to avoid resorting to another person when you can’t be there for your pup. Potty training systems like these, consisting of a cage made of an elevated loft, pee pads and tray clips, are ideal both for rest time and elimination. This solution is perfect for busy owners that are reluctant to adopt puppies because of the effort that house training involves.
Some words of conclusion…
You will have to be disciplined and patient because training your puppy can be difficult and will take a few weeks. Be ready for accidents and be supportive with your new family member. Don’t put yourself down if you don’t immediately see results. Some things are not necessarily dependent on you or your training, however, you must try to stick to your schedule as well as you can. You don’t want to neglect your furry little friend.
Adopting a puppy can be a major step in one’s life. It’s a journey that comes with excitement, brings a new face in the family, but is also burdened with responsibility. A dog is man’s best friend, after all, but a lot of people want to adopt a puppy, not a full-grown dog. After all, it’s rather heart-warming to see your new family member grow before your eyes. However, it’s important to note that a puppy needs to be taken care of and properly educated in the first months of his life. And it starts with potty training your puppy.