Puppy Potty Training 101
By: Cyd Oldham, Dog Behaviorist
Before you bring a puppy home, plan to take one or two weeks off of work, so you have uninterrupted time to focus on the puppy — and, in particular puppy potty training. Otherwise, it will take much longer to housebreak your pup.
Puppies learn new skills at different rates. It will take time for your puppy to develop a firm understanding of where it’s acceptable to potty and where it is not. It will take time for your pup to consistently understand that all of the house is the den, an area not to be soiled.
There are basically two methods to choose from when potty training your puppy. Once you have chosen a method – stick to it so you don’t confuse your puppy.
Potty Pad Method:
Prepare a “Safe Room” for your puppy (many people use a laundry room or bathroom for this purpose) by covering the entire floor with potty pads except for the place where puppy’s bed or crate is placed. Puppies will not soil their bed, so any place else puppy chooses to potty will be on a pad. After several days remove one pad from the room. The puppy will continue to use the potty pads to do his business. Every day or two remove another pad until there is only one left. This is a good method for people who must be gone from home for several hours, as puppy can learn to use the potty pad and finally be allowed out of the safe room with continued access to the room and his potty pad.
Outside Only Method:
You must spend time with your puppy for this to work. Remember that dogs “poop” after they eat – so if you free feed your puppy (leave food down all day long) you will never know when he needs to go. Feeding puppy 3 times a day is best. As soon as he is finished eating, take puppy outside to the place you would like him to go potty and tell him “Go Potty,” then wait for him. When he goes, praise him heavily then take him back inside. Puppies “pee” much more often – sometimes as often as every 30 minutes to an hour. You will need to take your puppy outside to that same spot and tell him “Go Potty” very often, giving him a couple of minutes to go. If he does, praise him heavily before returning to the house. If he does not, take him back inside, but don’t wait the full time before taking him back outside again. You might try taking him out again after 10-15 minutes. Also, some puppies sniff around to find a “spot” before they potty in the house, some don’t. Keep a close eye on your pup – if he has lost interest in what he was playing with and seems to be wandering aimlessly – He Needs to Potty.
A very important tip – dogs never understand punishment after the fact. When an accident happens, just chalk it up to your not watching puppy closely enough, clean it up, and move on. “Rubbing his nose in it” accomplishes nothing except to make puppy afraid of you.