Do not leave your puppy/dog unattended.
You essentially have two options when working on potty training with a young dog.
Option 1 is to keep your puppy with you at all times on leash. Do not just close all the doors to a room and allow them to run around, they can still have plenty of accidents that way!
Option 2: Keep your puppy in a safe area when you cannot watch them. A safe area can be a crate, exercise pen, or gated off small kitchen/bathroom/laundry room. Safe areas should be “puppy proofed.” Get down on their level and look around for items that they are likely to chew on or try to destroy. If they can they will, they are puppies after all.
Do not leave food or water out for them to graze.
Get your puppy on a feeding schedule. Their food should be offered to them 2 to 3 times a day for 15 minutes at a time. If the puppy doesn’t eat within 15 minutes, take up the food and offer it at the next feeding time. Some puppies have will go 2 to 3 days without eating but rest assured that they will not starve themselves. They will eat when they are hungry. Some puppies may not eat as a symptom of not feeling well. If you think this is the case then a trip to your veterinarian is certainly in order.
Start a written log for your puppies potty schedule. Write down how long it takes them before they are ready to go to the bathroom after eating. This will help you start to see a pattern as to when you need to take them to their potty area after each meal. Some puppies will need to go almost immediately and others will take a bit longer. Having their schedule written down you will be able to see a pattern immerge.
Premium dog foods more nutritionally dense than lower quality foods so your young dog will actually eat less food which equals less waste to clean up.
Water should be given whenever your puppy needs it especially after playin, walks, just waking up and of course with their meal times. But it should not be left down for them to have when they are loose in their safe space. Make sure to keep an eye on them after giving water as many puppies will need to head to the potty area within a few short minutes, typically less than 10 minutes.
Do not punish your puppies for accidents.
If you catch your puppy going potty in the house DO NOT FREAK OUT! This will only scare them and and they will not want to go potty in front of you any longer, this will include their correct potty area. If you do catch them, walk over to them and pick them up, if they stop going get them to their potty area and try to get them to finish there. If they don’t stop pottying when you pick them up just let them finish. Better to have one mess to cleanup than the whole pathway to their potty spot.
If you do not catch them and you come across an accident, DO NOT PUNISH THEM! Puppies have a short attention span and will not know or understand why they are being punished. Just clean it up with a good enzyme cleaner and then refer back to Rule #1.
What to use when cleaning up after an accident.
With so many cleaners available to us these days what do you want to use for cleaning up accidents in your home?
You want to use something that is formulated specifically for pet stains. You will typically see the words “Enzyme Cleaner” on the bottle. The reason for this is that many of the typical household cleaners have other ingredients that will actually attract the dog to come back to that spot. Simply using bleach or any other really strong cleaning agent is not recommended as it’s not safe for puppies and it’s not actually doing the job of breaking up the urine smell from that area.
The five minute rule.
You want to work on getting your dog to go to the bathroom as soon as they get outside. When you think that they need to go potty, walk them on leash to their potty area and stand in the same place for 5 minutes. Make sure the area doesn’t have any toys or other things that will distract them as they learn that it is time for them to potty. Keep repeating this sequence until they go potty within 5 minutes. Once they go you can be very excited for them, give them a treat, throw their favorite toy for them, what ever you do make sure you make a big deal about them going quickly and in the correct space. This will help teach them that good things come AFTER they go potty in the correct area.
Crates and the role they play.
Crates are not a prison for your new little puppy. The crate should be just big enough for them to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. They are a safe place for them to be when things are a bit crazy in their environment. Are you bringing in groceries from the car? Is there a service person there fixing something at the house? Are the kids just getting home from school? Then they should be in their crate until someone can pay full attention to them in a space that works for them.
A puppy’s age can be used as a rough guideline as to how long they can “hold it”:
3 months old = 2 – 3 hours in a crate
4 months old = 3 – 4 hours in a crate
5 months old = 4 – 5 hours in a crate
6 months old = 5 – 6 hours in a crate
1 year and older = about 8 hours
It’s a good idea to teach your puppy to hang out in their crate. There are many situations when they will need to have the skill of calming themselves down while being in a crate. This will be very useful for vacations, car rides to the vet or grooming appointments, overnight vet stays, boarding and many other situations.
Take your to their potty area as much as possible.
It is important that your puppy gets to their potty area as much as possible especially in the beginning. Here is a list of when we recommend heading to the designated potty area:
* Before and after meals within the time frame you have discovered by writing down their potty schedule.
* Before and after water.
* Before, during and after play time.
* Before they come out of a confined space (i.e., their crate or safe space.)
* Before and after naptime.
The more you take you puppy to their potty area the more opportunity they will have to go in the correct place…and NOT in front of the couch!
When it comes to potty training a young dog there are quit a few things that need to be considered. This is an amazing time of learning for both you and your new young addition to the household. During these formative years everything that you do and don’t do teaches your dog something. Let’s make sure that they are getting the most out of every interaction with you.