What is the Best way to Potty Train a Puppy?

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Potty training a dog is not rocket science. The procedure is actually quite simple, but you will need to be consistent in your training. Also, a good dose of patience and an abundance of positive reinforcement goes a long way to making the doggy potty-training process go quicker and easier.

When to Potty Train a Puppy


Knowing when to start potty training your puppy is just as important as knowing when to start potty training your child.

Just as with children, puppies need to reach a certain age before they have sufficient bladder and bowel control to be able hold it, a critical ability a dog needs before it can be potty trained.

So, how old does your puppy need to be to begin potty training? Generally, sometime between 12 and 16 weeks (4 to 5 months). The exact timing, however, will depend somewhat on the dog’s size and breed.

By this time your puppy is this old, it should have developed enough bowel and bladder control to allow training to begin. Of course, just as in the case of human children, every dog is different. Some will be ready for potty training early, while some may not be ready till later.

Will there be setbacks? Yes, yes there will. But no need to panic. It is a learning process for both the dog and for you.

Sometimes, because of previous living conditions you may find yourself having to break bad potty habits as you are seeking to instill good potty habits into your puppy. If so, the potty training process may take a bit longer than normal.

Also, occasionally, if you are find that your potty training efforts are not working, there may be underlying medical issues that need to be dealt with before you can potty train your dog. If so, you may need to consult a veterinarian.

Best Tips for Potty Training a Puppy


1. The first thing you need to do, once your puppy is ready for potty training, is to keep the puppy to a confined space. In other words, you do not want the puppy to have a free run of the house during the potty training process.

A crate work very well for this and is perhaps the most comfortable method for your puppy.

2. You will need to put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Feed your puppy at the same time every day and resist the temptation to give the puppy any between meal snacks.

During the training process you want regularity in the dog’s dietary habits.

3. And speaking of regularity, you need to keep a regular potty schedule for you puppy.

  • Take the puppy out to its designated potty area FIRST thing in the morning. It is important that you take the puppy to the same spot every time.
  • Why? Because the scent from his previous trips to the potty area will alert your puppy to the fact that this spot is his bathroom, the place where he or she needs to go to do their business.
  • This will teach your puppy to always go to this one spot to do their business, and not at just any random place in your yard. It helps to keep things clean and sanitary.
  • Always take your puppy out to go potty shortly after every meal.
  • Always take your puppy out to go potty after it wakes up from a nap. Regularly schedule a walk out to the potty area about once every 30 minutes to an hour throughout the day. As your puppy grows and as the potty training progresses, the time between potty breaks can get longer.
  • As a general rule, a puppy should be able to hold it for one hour for every month of age. But this will vary somewhat with every dog and with different breeds. Small dogs with small bladders will not to go more often.
  • Always take your puppy out to go potty just before going to bed at night.

4. Whenever you take your puppy out to its potty area, be sure to give your puppy enough time to do its business. Until your puppy is housetrained you will need to stay out with him.

And remember – “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” shall keep you and your puppy from the appointed rounds.

5. Whenever your puppy successfully does its business outside, give it immediate praise and/or treat as a reward.

Signs That Your Puppy Needs to go Potty


If you pay attention, you puppy will tell you when they need to go and do their business. And so, as you are potty training your puppy, watch for the signs that your puppy needs to go potty.

What kind of signs should you be looking for? Some of the common ones are, circling, sniffing, whining, barking, scratching at the door. If you pay attention to your puppy you will soon learn what its “I need to go potty” sign is.

When you see your puppies “I need to go potty” sign, take the dog out right away.

The Crate is your Dog’s Best Friend


While the dog may be man’s best friend, the crate is your dog’s best friend. Here is why.

Dogs are naturally den animals. They enjoy being in a small enclosed space. It gives them sense of security.

You can replicate this “den” experience for you dog by the use of a properly sized crate.

If you get a wire crate, covering the sides and back with a blanket will give your dog a greater sense of security. And always respect the crate. Remember the crate is your dog’s private space, its safe place.

Your dog may or may not want a blanket or pad to lay on. Some dogs actually like to lay on a hard surface. It will simply be a matter of trial and error to find out what your dog’s preferences are.

The crate can also be a great aid to potty training your puppy.

1. When selecting a crate/den for your puppy, you will want it to be big enough for them to stand up and turn around and comfortably lie down in it, but no so big that the puppy will get the idea that it can use one corner of the crate for a bathroom, and the remainder of the crate as living space. In other words, comfortably cozy but not too roomy.

If you start out with a crate big enough to accommodate the puppy when it is full grown, you will want to have some means of blocking off the unneeded portions to fit it to the size of your puppy.

2. The crate should never be used as a place of punishment. Being the crate should always to a positive experience for the puppy.

3. If for some reason you need to keep your puppy caged for an extended period of time, make sure it has water available, A dispenser that you can attach to the crate works well.

If you cannot be there to watch your puppy, make sure to make arrangements for someone else to come over periodically to give the puppy a potty break.

Crates are a great help in potty training a puppy because dogs are naturally clean animals. They do not like to use their bedroom/living space as a bathroom.

The crate prevents them from sneaking off to some other room to go potty.

Also, it allows you to keep a close eye on the puppy, and you are more likely to see any signs it makes indicating a need to go.

If you discover that your puppy is using the crate as a bathroom, it may be a bad habit picked up from the shelter or pet store where it came from. If so, you cannot use a crate as a potty training tool.

Other causes for going in the crate is 1. The crate is too big, or 2. The puppy is too young to hold it in, or 3. There is an underlying medical condition that needs to be dealt with.

Puppy Potty Accidents


Accidents are going to happen. When they do, do not over react, keep your cool and clean it up. Do not punish your puppy. That may only make things worse.

It is not uncommon for puppy potty accidents to happen for up to a year of age.

When an accident does happen, it is very important that the area where the accident happened is thoroughly cleaned. Using normal household cleaners may not be good enough. You will need a cleanser specifically formulated for that purpose.

Dogs have a very keen sense of smell, and if the smell lingers where the accident happened, that lingering sent will flag that spot in the puppy’s mind as a bathroom area. In other words, in the doggy world, if an area smells like a bathroom then it is a bathroom. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

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