How to Potty Train Your Puppy

Updated: February 23, 2019 at 3:26 pm, Author: Alice

Potty training a puppy is hard work and requires an extreme amount of patience and discipline (on your part) to do. Puppies, like babies, are not born with an inherent knowledge of where and when it is appropriate to go to the bathroom, and so, until they are taught otherwise, they will go whenever and wherever they have the urge to do so—including on your Persian rug. Unfortunately, too many people do not take into consideration the fact that a puppy is essentially a baby. Instead of being patient and understanding with their new family member, they get mad and discipline him or her; in extreme instances, they even give the dog away to a shelter.

If you are going to adopt a new dog, you need to first understand what goes into potty training so that you can ensure the best possible life for both you and him.


The Essentials of Potty Training Your New Pet

First and foremost, you need to understand your responsibilities for making sure the learning process is smooth, quick, and relatively painless. Some things to consider before beginning your instruction include:

  • Your Puppy’s Diet: If you expect your new pet to be able to control his bowels, you need to control his diet. Animals, like humans, need a consistent and healthy diet in order to maintain regularity within their digestive system.
  • Your Puppy’s Schedule: Puppies, like babies, need routine. If, for a week straight, you take him out at 6 am to go to the bathroom and run around, then the next don’t wake with him until 9 am, he is going to do his business in the house. It is not his fault. He assumed that, because you didn’t stick to the routine, you weren’t going to let him out. Additionally, if you want the routine to work, you have to make sure he is fed at the same time every day – that way you can correctly gauge when he’ll need to go out.
  • Learn Your Puppy’s Signs: Most dogs will exhibit signs of having to go, including whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or scratching at the door. Learn your puppy’s signs and you may be able to speed up the instruction process.
  • Always Give Positive Reinforcement: Puppies, like people, learn best with positive reinforcement. Every time your puppy goes potty outside, make sure to reward him with a treat, or even just with positive words of affirmation.
  • Refrain From Punishment: Punishing your puppy will make them fear you, but not respect you or your living space. If you catch him starting to go indoors, clap loudly to get them to stop and then proceed to take them outdoors where they can finish.

Now that you know what you need to do to ensure successful potty training, let’s talk methods.


Methods for Teaching Proper Bathroom Etiquette

There are three recognized methods for teaching dogs proper potty etiquette:

  • Outdoor training
  • Crate training
  • Pee-pad training


Outdoor Training

If you don’t want to deal with the mess of having to clean up your dog’s mess every time they go, or if you don’t want your house to smell of dog urine or feces, outdoor training is the best option for you. However, it is also the method that requires the most discipline on your part.

Begin your instruction by taking Fido out to eliminate first thing in the morning, and then every 30 minutes to an hour, after each meal, and before bedtime. This part is important, as your puppy has no way (or knowledge of how) to control it his bowels. If you or someone else will not be home for full days during the learning period, this method may not be for you.

Once outside, take your puppy to the same spot he went last time, as his scent will prompt him to go. Do not let him out on his own if he is not fully trained, as he will just run around and play, forgetting to go, which could lead to an accident indoors. Once he does go, give positive affirmation, and then take him for a walk as a reward.


Crate Training

Crate training is a popular teaching method for all dogs, as no dog wants to eliminate in what is essentially their living space. However, in order for crate training to work, you must get a cage that is just the right size: get one that is too small and they won’t want to go in it (plus, it will be uncomfortable for them), but get one that is too big and they may be able to “designate” an area for eliminating while still being able to comfortably lie down. Your pet’s crate should be just large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down—not walk around.

When crate training your pup, stick to the same rules as outdoor training—take them out to eliminate first thing in the morning, after each meal, and before bedtime. Though crate training gives you more flexibility as a dog owner (as you don’t have to worry about them soiling your home while you’re gone), it is still recommended that your puppy go out every 30 minutes to an hour while potty training.

Another benefit of crate training is that your pup will generally let you know when they have to go by whining or scratching at their crate, eliminating any guesswork.


Pee-Pad Training

Training your puppy to pee on a pad or paper is tough, as it sends so many different messages. On one hand, you don’t want them to eliminate in the house. On the other, you’re encouraging them to do just that, but in a designated area. Then, you also want to teach them to go outdoors and to resort to that option first and foremost. Understandably, pee-pad training can be very confusing for any puppy or dog.

However, for some people, pee-pad training is the only viable option. Many dog owners don’t have the option of running home several times a day to let their dog out, necessitating a need for a spot where they can go indoors if they have to. In other instances, a dog may be too small to go out on a snowy or windy day. Whatever the reason, pee-pad training may not be the best option, but it’s available all the same.


Cleaning Up After Your Puppy Has an Accident Indoors

how to potty train a puppyA common problem that new dog owners face when potty training their puppy is frequent accidents in the same spot(s) of the house—even after they’ve been almost fully trained outdoors. While this can be frustrating, the solution is simple: re-clean the spot. Dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell, and, as explained above, they like to eliminate in a spot where they can detect their own scent. When cleaning up after your puppy, keep the following tips in mind:

  • When cleaning urine, mop up the puddle as quickly as possible—especially on carpets where it has the potential to seep in. If urine is given the opportunity to seep in, it will sink into the carpet pad as well, making impossible to fully eliminate the smell without removing the carpet and carpet pad completely. When cleaning, use a sponge or paper towel, and be sure to soak up every last drop.
    Once cleaned, use an odor remover (or enzyme digester) specifically designed to eliminate pet stains and odors completely. Cover the area with plastic to allow the odor eliminator to do its job effectively.
  • When cleaning fecal stains, do the same as above, except be very careful when scooping up the poop; you do not want to accidently push some into the fibers of your carpet.
  • When cleaning older stains, try a pet stains and odor eliminator and follow the same process as if you were cleaning a new stain. However, bear in mind that older stains are difficult if not impossible to clean, and that the enzyme digester might not work. If it doesn’t, try mixing 1 cup of vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Once the digestive enzyme has sat for four or more hours, apply the mixture. Then try the digester solution once more.

If that does not work, you may have to replace that section of carpet and carpet completely.


On a Final Note: Be Patient, and Good Luck!

With patience and persistence, your puppy will learn potty etiquette in no time! However, keep in mind that every puppy is different, and while a friend’s dog may have been trained at 12-weeks-old, yours might not be until he or she is 5-months-old! Additionally, where you adopt your puppy from can make a huge difference in how long it will take to teach them. A pup that came from a responsible breeder who was already working on the basics may be trained within weeks of coming home with you; on the other hand, a dog that came from the pound, with no prior coaching whatsoever, could take a full year to finally develop potty etiquette.

Teaching a puppy bathroom etiquette can be difficult, but once they grasp the concept, all that work will have been well worth it! Don’t give up on your new pet, and good luck!

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