This is your ultimate guide to potty training your new puppy. Keep in mind If you’re having issues with an older dog and potty training there may be different techniques and procedures you may need to follow to get them on track.

Things to know

  • Potty training usually takes 4-6 months but can take up to a year to fully train with no accidents. Consistency and positive reinforcement will be the key to success in potty training your new little one.
  • The size of your dog is a big influence on how you will want to go about potty training. Smaller dogs with higher metabolism will need to go out more often and may have more accidents in the beginning.
  • You will want to begin house training your puppy when he is between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. At that point, he has enough control of his bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it.
  • Puppy pads can be a very good learning tool and temporary solution while trying to perfect potty training.
  • Potty training a puppy takes time and commitment, so don’t lose your patience. When you feel your pet is straying off course, return to the basics. Whichever method you choose, stick to it and develop a routine. With positive reinforcement, your pet will begin to recognize when they are showing good behavior. 

Schedule and Timing

When you begin potty training, you will want to have a strict schedule. Take away their food in between mealtimes and bring them out every 30 minutes. It may also be a good idea to bring them out directly after certain activities like

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Playing
  • Napping
  • Anytime they are in their Crate
  • Right before bed
  • Directly after waking

A good guide is that dogs can control their bladders for the number of hours corresponding to their age in months up to about nine months to a year. (Remember, though, that 10 to 12 hours is a long time for anyone to hold it!) A 6-month-old pup can reasonably be expected to hold it for about 6 hours. Never forget that all puppies are individuals and the timing will differ for each.

Learn your dogs “Need to go” signs

Even before they figure out where they’re supposed to relieve themselves, and tell you they need to go out you can learn to recognize their “need to go” signs. You will learn your dogs specific tells, but here are some common signs that you should probably take them out for a potty break.

  • Smelling around the house or corners
  • Pacing in circles
  • Barking or scratching at the door
  • Sniffing the floor
  • Squatting.

If you see your pup doing any of these things, make sure to quickly let them out or take them for a walk. If they do the job outdoors, give them praise and attention. Remember that when it comes to housetraining, prevention is the key.

Have a designated “potty spot”

You will want to have one spot outside that you take them to every time they go out. When you go out walk to the spot, and patiently wait. If they don’t go, take your puppy back in the house and repeat. They will catch on fast. Once they do their business, praise them vocally with “good boy/girl” and some pets and treats. This will ensure that they go to the area OUTSIDE that has their scent and be more likely to go there in the future.

Teach them Potty cues

Once your pup starts getting the hang of going outside to relieve themselves and has moderate control over there bladder you may want to teach them “cues” to let you know when they want to go outside. Some owners teach them to bark at the door, but you can always opt for a bell or something else that they can alert you with.

Bring your pup to the door, and direct them to use the bell, or bark etc. When they do the activity, open the door and bring them out for a minute or two. Return back inside and repeat around 5 times. Do this once or twice a day until they start using the cue without being prompted. This can ensure that they are getting out to do their business when they need to even when the humans are distracted.

How to teach your dog to use a bell

Have the bell in one hand and some tiny treats in the other. Start and finish each repetition of the exercise with the bell hand behind your back.

Present the bell at intervals to your puppy, replacing it behind your back once he has touched it. The object is to get him to touch the bell of his own free will.

I just want you to show it to your puppy, don’t push it onto his nose. Hold it quite close to his nose so that he can see it clearly.

Most pups will reach out to sniff the bell. The instant he touches it, your job is to mark that touch with clear ‘YES’ and follow your mark up with a tiny treat.

If he seems reluctant to touch the bells, rub a tiny bit of food on it the first couple of times, to encourage him.

In-Home accidents

If your dog has an accident just clean up the mess. Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot. Blot up liquid on the carpet before cleaning the rug.

If you catch the dog starting to squat to urinate or defecate, pick her up and immediately rush outside. If she does the job outdoors, give her praise and attention.

Don’t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it’s too late to administer a correction. Just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will often do more harm than good.

Rewards

Rewards and positive reinforcement are the most important part of potty training. If you give the dog treats and lots of positive verbal ques they will associate going outside with good things and will be more likely to do it for the treats or praise. but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected of them. 

Make plans for when you’re not home

If you have to be away for more than 4 or 5 hours a day, it’s essential early on that there is someone to take the puppy out in that time. As said before, puppies can only hold their bladder for a few hours and if you have they’re going in the house, or on puppy pads for half the day it will be a lot harder and will take longer to potty train them.

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