Potty training | Housetraining a dog | Puppy training
How do I potty train my puppy?
Potty training is one of the biggest concerns of new dog owners. Even if you make everything right, accidents will happen and that's normal. Expect less sleep during the first 2-3 weeks of your pup in your new home and at least one accident during a day. Puppies learn fast, but they are still growing and even though they quickly understand that urinating or defecating inside your home is not a good idea, sometimes their bodies simply cannot hold it. Housetraining a puppy is like teaching a young child to use a toilet. It takes time!
First, let us debunk some myths related to potty training.
Puppy pads. Don't buy them! Although it is a good idea at the beginning (your house requires less cleaning), most dogs raised with puppy pads end up urinating on beds and carpets. Dogs have an instinct to urinate and defecate in an area that absorbs moisture better, for example, they chose grass over concrete. If you teach your pup to urinate in your home on something that absorbs moisture, then anything like puppy pads will do the work for your pup – a mattress, a sofa, etc. Some dogs learn to distinguish between puppy pads and the rest of the moisture-absorbing items in your home, but we strongly advise against using them, so you won't cause confusion to your pup.
Getting up early. Although during the first weeks of your pup in your home you will most probably need to wake up early, it won't be necessary afterward, when your pup matures. It's common to wake up at 5 AM or 6 AM for the potty training, but adult dogs, in general, adjust themselves to their owners' schedule and see no problem in sleeping up to 9 or 10 AM.
Scolding. We understand why you would use your temper to clean your house again and again. However, scolding doesn't help in any way while training your pup. If an accident happens, simply clean it and that's it.
The main idea behind puppy house training is having a good schedule. Make sure to be able to take your pup out every 2-3 hours. If you can't make it, ask friends for help. The more you take her out during the first weeks, the faster she'll learn to hold.
Potty training starts in the kennel where your pup was born. In some cases, it goes so smoothly that you don't even need to do anything, simply keep up with the good work started in the kennel. However, not all dogs bother about living clean. Also, some breeds are faster in learning than the others, so if your friend has a completely house trained puppy from a kennel and your pup still struggles, don't worry. Each pup is different.
Take your pup out when she wakes up after sleep, after an active play, and 30 mins after her meal. If you cannot take her outside, make sure she stays in a relatively small, safe area. Therefore, we love using dog crates. A puppy learns to stay alone for a while and doesn't have too much space to run around and instead of zooming and actively playing, she's conditioned to relax and sleep. We'll discuss using the crate a little bit later, but in general, having a safe space to leave your pup while you cannot pay attention to her, is a good way to teach your pup to stay calm while alone and not to run around your house. The puppy left in a free open space equals a puppy who's playing around, urinating after each play, and chewing something that she is not supposed to. It wouldn't be good not only for the sake of training but for the safety of your pup.
Depending on your pup's biological clock (she gets active around the same time in the morning), take her out for a short break around 5 AM or 6 AM. Go out only for a couple of minutes and don't walk too much – simply stay in one spot, preferably on the grass. Then give her something to chew and place her in a crate or a corridor again. Go to sleep if needed! And take her out again in 30 mins or an hour. This walk should be a longer one.
The next walk should happen in 2 or 3 hours. That's a problem for most people, especially those who work from 9 to 5. If you cannot take your pup out, ask your friends and family for help. Contact your neighbors or a dog walker. Don't worry, soon you'll be able to leave your pup for the whole day, but in the beginning, she needs some additional care.
When your pup urinates or defecates outside, praise her a lot. If she struggles to do so, find a calm spot covered with grass and without too many dogs and people around. Stay in the same spot, don't walk too much around. If you keep moving all the time, your pup will most probably get excited about all the new smells and sights along the way and forget that she needs to "do her business". However, when she finally does something, don't rush back home, play around for a while, and walk her a little bit more. This way she will eventually learn that urinating and defecating outside leads to some more interesting things to do.
If an accident happens at home, don't scold your pup. It might scare her and because of that, some pups urinate secretly at home, which leads to even more problems. Simply clean up and write down the time when it happened. Usually, it's possible to see a pattern when the puppy needs some additional care.
Puppies urinate or defecate at home not because they are being naughty. If there was an accident, the most probable causes are the following:
- The puppy was not taken out after sleep or play
- The puppy was left alone in an open space
- There was too much water left for her (especially during the night)
- Puppy still cannot hold it for so long
- Puppy is stressed about something
- Puppy has caught a cold
Sure, there might be other reasons as well, but as you see, they are not related to your pup being a bad dog. Be patient and in 1 to 3 months your pup will be fully housetrained.
To make potty training easier for new dog parents, we’ve made a 14-Day training program ‘Potty Time, Pup’ that you can follow at home. It guides you step-by-step throughout the process so even a beginner dog parent could successfully complete it. Become a member at Wiglo to get instant access to ‘Potty Time, Pup’ training program, as well as other 10+ programs (over 200 daily lessons in total) for improving dog behavior one day at a time.