How to Potty Train a Puppy

Along with the fun and excitement of a new puppy, dog owners must deal with a few of the more mundane essentials. House training is one of these, yet it’s a pivotal step for ensuring happy ownership for years to come. And let’s face it, no one wants to encounter a mess in the living room after work or in their downtime. The good news is that potty training is pretty straightforward and achievable. From the first day, it helps form lifelong bonds and underpin further good behavior.

The Basics

House training requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency! Remember, it’s not instinctive for dogs to poop outside. It’s only natural for them to not go where they sleep or eat. Even untrained adult dogs will happily resort to going in the house. Accidental peeing and soiling will happen and is part of the whole process. By following these guidelines, however, your furry new companion will be on the right track!

The Power of Association

Dogs learn by linking cause-and-effect and crucially, through repetition. When you help them make the right associations by anticipating needs and showing what you expect, they quickly get into the right habits. In other words, reward good behavior with positive reinforcement.

How Long to Potty Train a Puppy?

It typically takes 4-6 months of house training to get it right. There are, of course, many factors that determine this, such as age, breed and your methods. Generally speaking, young puppies can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. In other words, at two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Older puppies can often hold it for longer overnight, but you shouldn’t expect an uninterrupted night’s sleep for a week or two.

Potty Training Tips

Regardless of breed or age, there are three essential principles for success for new puppy owners:

  1. Recognizing the telltale signs puppy wants to go
  2. Reinforcing the good behavior of going outside
  3. Establishing a feeding schedule

If these are followed, the whole process becomes as hassle-free as it can be. In fact, this dog training milestone should be really straightforward.

Signs That Your New Puppy Needs to Go

Be sure to watch for signs that your puppy needs a potty break.

Some of these include:

  • Barking or scratching at the door
  • Squatting, restlessness
  • Sniffing around or circling

When you see these behaviors, immediately take it outside to a designated potty area. Pick a potty spot outside and aim to return to this place. Again, this will form an association and create established scent markers. Using phrases such as “bathroom” or “toilet” from the first time is an excellent idea so that it learns to associate that word with pooping and peeing. In addition to the signs above, take your puppy outside at least every two hours: after it wakes up, during and after playtime and after eating or drinking.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement in the form of praise and rewards is a cornerstone of all dog training. Rewarding for a successful potty break is no exception. Reinforcement in house training means that every time your pup gets it right, it should get rewarded. This could be in the form of a treat or just lots and lots of verbal praise. But remember to do so immediately after it’s finished.

Establish a Regular Feeding Schedule

Depending on their age, puppies usually need to eat three or four times a day. Feeding them at the same time each day makes it easier for you to anticipate their bowel movements and an imminent potty break. When it comes to water, it’s a good idea to restrict access to water for a couple of hours before bedtime. This will reduce the likelihood of them needing to relieve themselves during the night.

Associating Scent

Dogs hate defecating where they sleep or rest. It’s a powerful ingrained instinct. On the other hand, they also have the instinct to go where they’ve been before. So it’s important to properly and immediately clean places where the puppy has had an accident. Be sure to use enzyme-based removers available from the pet store. Without that scent, puppies won’t associate the area with relieving themselves. If your puppy wanders, the first bit of carpet it finds away from where it sleeps and eats is going to become an unplanned potty spot. Carpet is soft under its paws and makes it think it’s standing on grass.

How to Potty Train a Puppy When You Work

So you understand the power of association, you get the importance of a regular schedule and you know the signs of impending bathroom breaks. But there’s still one thing: How do you continue the training process when you’re at work? A typical 8-week-old puppy needs potty breaks at least every three hours as well as playtime! Changes in the way most of us work in recent times mean more of us are now working from home. If this isn’t an option, though, this means planning ahead and really comes down to two options:

  1. Find a reputable pet sitter who can help you while you’re at work all day.
  2. Set up a safe, puppy-proofed area on the floor. Accept the fact that your pup’s potty-training progress might proceed at a slower pace.

Put together a small baby gate area for your pup measuring three by five feet where they can be safely confined. This should be on an area that is easy to clean and cannot be ruined by accidents, such as the kitchen tile. Cover the floor with several layers of newspaper or puppy pads to contain any accidents the young dog might have while you’re gone. Put a soft bed in one corner where the pup can sleep. Or even better, a dog crate.

Crate Training 

Crate training can seem a bit off-putting to new dog owners. Using a dog crate is the subject for a whole new article, but the principle behind them in house training is this: Dogs don’t like a urine-soaked rug in their living space any more than you do. It’s important that the crate is the right size — just large enough for the dog to lie down, stand up and turn around. If it’s too large, the dog may use one corner for elimination and then settle down away from the mess. First thing in the morning and when you get home from work, take the puppy out. You should also be taking it out before bedtime and keeping it on a routine feeding schedule.

Puppy Pads

If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of a dog crate or want to insure any unsupervised areas of your home, consider puppy potty pads.  These give a dog the option of relieving itself in an approved spot at home. As it matures, you can then work on having the dog do its business outdoors all the time. Allowing puppies to use potty pads inside the house can confuse them about where they’re supposed to go. This may slow down the potty training process and should be avoided if possible. Pee pads shouldn’t be a substitute for going outside unless you have a special situation — work or living in a high-rise apartment, for example.

House Training Setbacks

Following these pointers will usually result in a well house-trained puppy. But inevitably, things don’t go as planned. If your dog has an accident, just clean up the mess, no fuss. Remove the scent, reflect on the signs and causes and continue as before. Then, go back to more frequent trips and increase supervision. Retraining is natural and normal, for both adult and young dogs.

To Sum Up…

  • Scheduling, praise and building associations (particularly scent) are key.
  • Accidents are inevitable and not a big deal.
  • Try to enjoy it. Florida puppies are only young once!

Puppy potty training is one of the first things you’ll do to help your pet get acquainted with its new home. There are many ways to go about it, and accidents won’t stop overnight. But, if you follow the rules laid out here, you can expect to see a house-trained young dog in no time! Visit our homepage to find a new puppy for sale you can adopt today!

2024-05-22T14:37:14-04:00December 14th, 2023|

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