Potty Training

House-training: As with most things in life, there are hard ways and there are easy ways to get things done. Rubbing a puppy’s nose in a mess is an inappropriate way to house-train  Instead use ample amounts of supervision and positive reinforcement.

Getting Started: Pick a spot for you puppy’s elimination outdoors. Always take your dog there to do his business. Praise him when he goes. Immediately give your dog a treat after he/she finishes. The scent left from previous visits to that area will quickly mark it as the place for the pup to do his business. After you have established a place for elimination, and your puppy is aware of it, if they do not go in the first minute or so, bring the puppy back into the house, re-crate him/her for a only a couple of minutes, and then take them back out. This will train your puppy to know that you are “out for business” and not out for play time. This is helpful if you live in a cold climate and wish not to stand outside for a length of time until you dog decides they want to go.

Frequency: A 7- to 10-week-old puppy should be taken outdoors every one to two hours. Older puppies can generally wait longer. Take your puppy out after waking in the morning, after meals, after playing, after you arrive home, and immediately before being put to bed.

Eliminating On Command: Again, to avoid spending a lot of time waiting for your puppy to get the job done, you may want to teach him to eliminate on command. Each time he is in the act of eliminating, simply repeat a unique command, such as “hurry up” or “potty,” in an up beat tone of voice. You will soon notice that when you say the command your puppy will begin sniffing, circling, then eliminate shortly after you give the command. Remember to praise, praise, praise!!

Feeding Time: Most puppies will eliminate within an hour or two after eating. Once you take control of your puppy’s feeding schedule, you will have some control over when he/she needs to eliminate. Schedule your puppy’s dinner times so that you will be available to let him out after eating. Never feed a large meal just prior to confining your puppy or they may have to eliminate when you are not around to take them out. Feed two to three times daily on a regular, consistent schedule. Have food available for only 20 to 30 minutes, then remove it. Dinner time should be over with several hours before the puppy is confined for the night. By controlling the feeding schedule, exercise sessions, confinement periods and trips outdoors to the elimination area, your puppy will quickly develop a reliable schedule for eliminating.

Crate Training: Puppies will be comfortable in their crate and this will provide a safe confinement during house training  Most puppies will rapidly accept crate confinement when you make the introduction fun. Since it is important to associate favorable things with the area where your puppy is confined, it is a good idea to play with them there, or simply have the crate near you while they relax with a favorite chew toy. Try starting the training by feeding your puppy their dinner one piece at a time, by tossing pieces of kibble into the crate for him/her to chase and eat. This way, you can make a game out of training. You can also store toys in the crate so the puppy will enter on their own to play. You can also hide a treat in the crate for a nice surprise. Do not crate your puppy longer than they can control the urge to urinate or defecate. It is not a good idea to crate your puppy for more than 4 to 5 hours each day on an ongoing basis. If you will be gone for long periods each day, you will need to provide a larger confinement area. Consider using an exercise pen or small room. Provide an area large enough so that if your puppy has to eliminate when you are gone, he can do it in a space that is separate from his sleeping area. A 15 to 30 square foot area is adequate for most puppies. If he chooses a specific place to eliminate, cover the area with paper to make clean up easier.

Mistakes Happen: Your untrained puppy, if left alone, is bound to make mistakes. Close supervision is a very important part of training. If your puppy can go at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house, you have done your job! For older dogs, this period should be even longer. Until then, your puppy should constantly be within eyesight. Baby gates can be helpful to control movement throughout the house and to aid supervision. When you are away from home, sleeping, or if you are just too busy to closely monitor your pet’s activities, confine him to a small, safe area in the home.

Nervous Wetting: Puppies sometimes will have a problem called submissive urination and may squat and urinate upon greetings. Dogs and puppies that urinate during greetings are very sensitive and should never be scolded when they do this, since punishment inevitably makes the problem worse. They will usually grow out of this if you are calm, quiet and avoid reaching toward the head during greetings.

Problem Areas: Thoroughly clean urine and fecal odor from the problem area to keep your dog from returning to the area where he made the mistake. Be sure to use a good commercial product manufactured specifically to clean up doggy odors. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for usage. If a carpeted area has been soaked with urine, be sure to saturate it with the clean up-product and not merely spray the surface. Rooms in the home where your dog has had frequent mistakes should be closed off for several months. He should only be allowed to enter when accompanied by a family member.

Be Ready: It is a rare dog or puppy that can be house trained without making an occasional mistake. Be ready to handle these mistakes. Don’t use harsh punishment to correct mistakes. It usually doesn’t work, and may delay training. Simply use a moderate, startling distraction. You should only do this when you see your dog in the act of eliminating in the wrong place. A sharp noise, such as a loud “No” or a quick stomp on the floor, is all you need to stop the behavior. Just do not be too loud or your pet may learn to avoid eliminating in front of you, even outdoors.

Use Patience: Don’t continue to scold or correct your dog after he has stopped soiling. When he stops, quickly take him outdoors so that he will finish in the appropriate area and be praised. Never rub your dog’s nose in a mess. This will not help training, but may make him afraid of you.

Success: The basic principles of house training are pretty simple, but a fair amount of patience is required. Just always keeping an eye on your active dog or puppy is the key to success. If you maintain control, take your dog outdoors frequently, and consistently praise the desirable behavior, soon you should have a house-trained companion.

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