Potty Training: What to Do

Updated: Jan 13

Potty Training: What to Do

Potty training is about developing positive habits and preventing negative ones! This can be one of the most frustrating parts of training a puppy, but I promise you that it won’t last forever! And with these tips to help you on your journey through puppyhood, it will make the whole process a little bit easier!

How to Know When Your Dog Has to Go

There are many ways to know when your pup might have to be taken outside. Here are some common ones!

  • He just woke up

  • You let your pup out of the crate

  • Your pup recently ate or drank

  • He goes over to an area he’s had an accident in before

  • Your pup was occupied, either chewing or playing with a toy, but then gets up to do something else or starts sniffing around

  • He is more excited or active than usual

  • Pacing or whining

What Happens When My Pup Does Have an Accident?

This is a very common question! No matter how “on top of it” you are, there will be accidents. All it takes is one second of you turning your back and your pup is in a squat, peeing on your rug. If you didn’t actually catch your pup in the act, resist the urge to correct him. A lot of trainers using outdated methods may recommend yelling at your dog or rubbing their nose in it. This is the worst thing you could do for house training. If it happened two minutes ago, your puppy isn’t going to realize that you’re mad about the accident. He will think you’re mad about whatever it was he was doing in that specific moment. Owners often feel that when they yell at their dog, their dog “knows they did something wrong,” but your dog is actually using something called calming signals to try and calm you down, not show signs of guilt.

So how do we handle accidents? If you stumble across an accident, just clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner. Plain and simple. But if you catch your pup in the act, make an abrupt noise. The purpose of this is to startle your pup and distract him, not punish him. Being harsh or yelling in a negative tone will only let your dog know they shouldn’t go to the bathroom around you. Next time, he will do it somewhere you can’t see him. Once you make the startling sound (clapping your hands, slapping a wall, etc), rush your puppy outside! Make sure not to do this in a negative way! Then give lots of treats and praise if he finishes outside.

Tips for Potty Training!

  • A crate training schedule during the day is key to successful potty training.

  • Prevention is the best way to potty train.

  • Bring your puppy out ten minutes after they eat or drink. The first week, you’re going to learn how long it takes for your puppy to have to go to the bathroom after eating.

  • You have to figure out what your pup’s time frame is. Eventually you can plan the times you bring him out by how long it takes until he actually goes to the bathroom

  • Have patience! Spend as much time outside as possible.

  • The longer you can stay out the better. Often, clients will be outside with their puppy for twenty to twenty five minutes with no luck and the second they come inside the dog goes in the house. You have to take away that opportunity completely. If you can’t stay out any longer, pick your puppy up, and bring them inside. Put them back in their crate - don’t let them walk back to the crate themselves, carry them the whole way there. Wait five to ten minutes, then carry them back outside.

  • Consistency is key.

  • Designate a specific “potty area” and stick with it.

  • Puppies will get confused and won’t be sure if it is play time or potty time. If you bring them to one specific area to go potty, they will begin to associate that area with going to the bathroom, not play.

  • In the beginning, it really takes a lot of patience.

  • The biggest mistake people make around house training is revolving a puppy’s day around total freedom. Your puppy should earn that freedom by going to the bathroom outside.

  • Once your puppy goes to the bathroom outside, you know you have 20-30 minutes before they will have to go again where you can let your puppy out of the crate to play.

  • If you are doing something where you can’t watch your puppy and keep your eyes on him 100% of the time, he should be in his crate with some toys and a chewing object.

  • A puppy can be in their crate for two to three hours (max) at a time. Generally, a dog can hold their bladder for one hour for every month of age, plus one. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for three hours. You want to make sure you take your puppy out before that time to avoid accidents!

  • When your puppy is out of the crate, you should be taking him out every twenty to thirty minutes.

  • Avoid using pee pads! Pee pads have made house training so convenient for owners, but there are a few problems that come with them.

  • Your puppy learns that it is okay to relieve themselves inside. We want to teach our dogs that they can only go to the bathroom outside. Everytime your pup goes inside, it reinforces the idea that going inside is okay.

  • Your puppy is bound to tear it to shreds during the teething phase.

  • Anything that resembles a pee pad (a rug, mat, blanket on the floor, etc) becomes a pee pad.

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