Puppy Potty Training
One of THE number one questions I get asked is how to successfully potty train a puppy! So many people have puppies, adolescent or even adult dogs who sneak off and potty in other rooms or behind the sofa.
I have 2 dogs under the age of one year old, so potty training is an essential skill around my house! And, I have always been very successful with house training my dogs. When my oldest dog (who is now 11) was a puppy, he only had 3 accidents in the house and had full reign of my home, by himself, by time he was 16 weeks. And for a great video series that shows you how to potty train, as well as other puppy training basics, click here.
How Do I Potty Train My Puppy?
#1) First things first! I understand puppies. They have a schedule that their little bodies follow; they need to go out right after naps or sleep, after exercise, and after eating and drinking. For good measure I also let my puppies out about every 2 hours (unless they are asleep) and take them to the same place each time. Quietly praise them when they potty outside and provide a great treat afterward!
When they are tiny, potty training is all about ME, not them! It is MY responsibility to make sure they get outside, go outside with them to monitor their success (this is crucial), and keep them with me around the house. If I can’t see my puppy…chances are he is getting into trouble somewhere! So, I keep him with me all of the time, either on a leash or with a baby gate or boundary!
#2) The smaller the environment, the more successful we will all be! This is the same reason crate training works. Most puppies don’t want to poop or pee and then be subjected to it, or lay in it. When your puppy is not directly in a crate (I do LOVE crate training), keep his environment small.
A Great Dane cannot go potty in an apartment and get far enough away from it to be comfortable; he is too big and the environment is too small. But a Chihuahua in a castle has millions of places to relieve himself and be comfortable.
In the beginning, keep your pup on a leash with you or in a small room or area. I utilize both leashes and baby gate when we are just starting. This way I can monitor them and quickly catch an accident before, or as it is happening and kindly get my puppy outside.
#3) Once you have a handle on your puppy’s potty schedule and he is learning that outside is the place to relieve himself, it is time to teach him how to tell you he has to go out!
I utilize a bell or two on a string. You can get bells almost anywhere. I tie one ribbon of bells on the door knob, so that each time my pup goes out he hears and associates the sound with going outside, and I teach him to ring the other string of bells with his nose.
Most pups are inquisitive and if a bell is held about nose level, he is liable to poke, prod or jiggle it in some way. Once he rings the bell, click and treat or praise and treat. This lets him know that ringing the bell is what you want. When he understands that you want him to ring the bell and is doing it when you bring the bells out, you may begin to stop treating him with food for ringing the bell, but continue to praise him and go outside.
Each time he rings the bell praise and let him outside. At first, he will ring the bell often but soon he will realize the bell ringing is his way of telling you he needs to go outside.
The Most Important Puppy Potty Training Tip?
Don’t over react when he has an accident. Never, ever yell or rub his nose in it! This hostility is the reason dogs “sneak” around, go behind couches, and in other rooms to have an accident. You want your puppy to relieve himself in front of you outside, so yelling at him is counterproductive! Your puppy doesn’t understand why you yell sometimes and not others! TEACH him where you want him to potty by being patient, taking him to the same place outside, staying with him and praising him for a job well done! If you approach potty training with this great new attitude I know that you too, will be successful!