Updated: Jan 2
Potty training a new puppy can be time consuming, confusing, and stressful, but it's all part of the process!
It is never too early to potty train. But it can be 'too late.' Older dogs who have developed routines and habits may be harder to break. If a puppy is older than 4-6 months and is still going to the bathroom in his kennel routinely, it may take longer to work on.
There is a TON of information out there on how to handle this stage, and as I'm sure you are busy with the new little fur-ball, you likely don't have time to read a 6 page blog on potty training or even a full book. So, I created this quick guide!
What You Should Do:
This takes time!
Give treats and praise for reward!
Do this as soon as the puppy goes potty. Saying "Yes!" as the squat occurs and a treat following when he is done. Waiting until you get back inside can stir up some trouble. Puppies are smart! They may realize that they get treats when they come back inside, and learn to wait by the door and not actually do their business. Giving reward as the action occurs, helps to solidify the proper behavior and not send a confusing message!
Take your puppy out to go potty as SOON as he wakes up in the morning, or from a nap.
Don't wait until after you have showered, made breakfast, or brushed your teeth, as this will guarantee an accident.
Predictable schedules are key and timing is everything!
After your puppy eats, plays, or drinks water from their bowl, wait 20-30 minutes and bring them outside. And let him out every hour or two during awake hours. This 'schedule' can help not only avoid accidents, but the puppy will start to associate that after he eats or drinks, he goes outside to go potty. Soon he will go to wait at the door by himself when he needs to go. You can still give treats for coming when called to go back inside, just be sure there is clear distinction for potty rewards!
Taking the puppy to the same potty spot each time can remind him to do his business!
Scent is everything in the dog world! Bringing your puppy to the same spot each time will help remind him that its time to go potty outside.
Implement bell training.
Some dog owners find it helpful to train their dogs to ring a small bell by the door when they need to go out. Maddie is 1p years old and has never been one to alert me when she has to go out. But bell training the new puppy changed that. She picked up (on her own) that ringing the bell means go outside. And she started doing that allcon her own!
Make learning fun!
Train your puppy to wait by the door, or use a bell when he has to go out. You could also try phrases for going potty, such as the word "Mark" or "Business" or simply "Go potty." Use one command and stick with it. Hand signals can also be used when he goes. As soon as the squat occurs, give your cue. Association will begin to take place and you can actually train your puppy to go to the bathroom on command. This is commonly used for training service dogs.
Stay with him!
Putting your puppy outside and leaving him there to 'figure it out' likely won't get the job done. Be sure you are present to not only make sure he goes, but also give praise and reward.
Limit water at night time.
This one is optional, but some find it helpful. Let the puppy get one last drink around 7pm, and take him out to go potty right before he goes in the kennel for the night.
What You Shouldn't Do:
Do not punish accidents.
Try to remember, that both you and the puppy are learning right now. This stage won't last forever!
Don't allow free roaming unsupervised, or at night.
Here comes crate training!
Don't expect a puppy to hold their bladder for 8 hours.
As you are training puppies only a few months of age, it is important not to expect too much of them. A good rule of thumb is that a puppy can only hold their bladder 1 hour for how many months okd they are. So if a puppy is 3 month old, they should be able to hokd their bladde for 3 hours. 6 months, 6 hours. And so forth.
*As adults, I would not surpass 8-10hours of bladder holding. This can kead to infections, as stated above, and even be quite painful for the animal.
Try to split the day up and come home on a lunch break or hire some help. This not only helps potty training in the long run, but can also prevent painful bladder infections, expensive vet bills, and a urine covered dog at the end of the day!
Avoid using the kennel as a punishment.
The kennel or crate needs to remain a happy and fun place to go. Try to avoid using it as a punishment, especially with scolding or yelling. If you need to kennel the puppy to clean up an accident, do it calmly by simply putting him in there and closing the door. You can even give them a chew toy to keep him occupied.
Try not to yell and scold them.
I know, easier said than done! But take this time to reflect on your own thoughts and how you react to difficult situations. I know full and well nobody is perfect, but working on this early on will help for the next phases of training and relationship building. Your puppy is a lot more likely to listen and respond to calm or happy tones than angry or upset ones. If you DO get mad and upset, scold them in a happy voice! Yes.. it sounds absolutely ridiculous, and people may think you are going bonkers if they hear you.. but it works! Instead of screaming "Dang puppy why did you pee on my floor again!!" Try a higher pitched soft voice as you would say "Want to go for a walk?!" and say "Wow! I'm so angry right now I could just scream, I'm sick of cleaning up this mess, dog!" Watch and follow your puppy's reaction to your different tones, and try it in other scenarios as well. You may even laugh at yourself because it sounds pretty darn funny! A good way to lighten the mood, none the less!
Do not use puppy potty pads. Ever.
I've seen this mistake so many times. Pet owners try to make it easy on the puppy (and themselves) and it backfires. Using puppy pads in the house only reinforces going potty in the house. I rarely see it work out. This also creates laziness. Let's be honest! Having a puppy (or any dog) is work. Get up, and bring them outside. Fresh air and exploration is critical to puppy development, and overall health for the both of you!
Some other reasons for difficulties in potty training are:
Anxiety and/ or hyperactivity
Homecoming can be a fun and exciting time, but many puppies struggle with adapting eight away. When a puppy is anxious or overly aroused, he may not think about going potty outside. You may notice sudden accidents during play or running around. Addressing the behavior, mental/ emotional mindset and environment can be very helpful in these cases.
If puppies were in a cage most of the time, not let out frequently, or have been used ro using potty pads, there can be some poor habits developed and they may have a more difficult time learning what is expected of them in regards to going to the bathroom.
When the spine is not properly aligned, the nervouse system has a difficult time communicating messages with the brain. Pinched nerves in the pelvis and back can also affect signals being sent through body. I highly recommend chiropractic care!
Normal hormonal changes can cause fluctuations in urination and potty urges. There can also be an issue with lack of hormonss (early spay/ neuter) causing incontinence in some cases.
Following these tips can ensure a positive, and successful potty training period for both you and the new puppy!
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