Michael is an avid pet-lover and content writer on topical themes related to dog care, training and behavioral development.
Potty Training Your Puppy
Housebreaking is a fundamental part of the development of your pet as the training accustoms it to the proper way of relieving itself. Your desire is to enjoy and maintain a clean and hygienic home. This is crucial not only for you as the owner but also for your dog. Many pets are handed over to animal shelters because they are unable to do this in the correct manner.
When you have a dog around, keeping the house free of filth and stench does not come automatically.
So is the housebreaking process difficult? Do you have to invest weeks or months to get results? Thankfully, the answer is no. Actually, training should take less than a week. This includes getting the dog to the point where it is able to instantly respond to your commands.
The more available you are for the potty training process, the quicker it will be. It is a matter of investing time, effort, and discipline in the present to save much hassle in the future. Remember that dogs are creatures of habit. But you cannot teach old dogs new tricks. The sooner the training begins, the longer it will be retained.
Remember that when puppies are very small, they do not have the ability to retain urine for long periods of time since the capacity of their biological system is limited. So the ideal age to housebreak your puppy is between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Before this time, the dog will not have developed sufficient strength to control its own bowel movements.
Aside from the points covered in this article, it is essential to develop the habit of studying your pet’s behavior. Journaling them will help you keep a record that you can use for future reference and to adjust your training accordingly. This record will also be resourceful when you bring your pet to the vet or in the future when you seek guidance concerning your dog's development.
The following are essential tips to consider when potty training your puppy.
1. Create the Perfect Routine
One of the key elements of potty training your puppy is establishing regularity. Remember that a puppy from 3 months old will need to relieve itself about every 3 hours, so you need to be prepared to lead it out when the time comes. The key here is to use the same method and the same route each time. Repetition will help the puppy become quickly accustomed.
Aside from using the same method, you need to use the same time intervals. This is how owners establish a routine with their pets that is mutually beneficial. As long as a routine is in place, the puppy will instinctively turn to you with expectation when the right time comes.
So how can you tell when your puppy is ready to go out? Telltale signs include:
- sniffing about whilst moving in circles
- making noises while scratching at the door
- staring fixedly at the exit
If the puppy was preoccupied with something (like playing with or chewing on a toy), then it suddenly switches mode and begins to walk about with its nose trained to the floor, this is your cue. You need to be preemptive so that it doesn't relieve itself in the wrong place.
In the beginning, you will need to spend some time with the puppy in order to detect these signs. They will be the triggers for you to intervene by drawing it to the litterbox or letting it out through the back door into the garden.
So keep at this training until the puppy is able to instinctively draw your attention to the exit when it needs to go out. Over time, you will notice your pet catching up to the routine you have established and will look up to you when the urge comes and indicate that it is ready, e.g. by whining.
You could begin by taking the puppy to the toilet area every 45 minutes and thereafter increase the intervals as the puppy becomes more accustomed to controlling itself. If you break a pattern accidentally, and as a result, the dog makes a mistake, don’t take it out on your pet.
Remember, at this stage, the dog is following your lead. If the puppy does not relieve itself when you take it outside for more than 20 minutes, wait for a while. If nothing happens, take it back inside and continue to observe it until such a time you see the signs.
2. Issue Timely Instructions
The commands that you use need to be decided upon beforehand. This will help you avoid mixing phrases or statements that would confuse the puppy.
The instructions for the puppy to prepare to relieve itself in the designated place should be issued when the puppy wakes up, 30 minutes or so after eating, and before bedtime. For example, ‘Go potty’ can be used to communicate that it's time for the puppy to go out with you.
If you find that the puppy has started to relieve itself in the wrong place, you need to move fast. Firmly take hold of the collar, and sternly verbalize your disapproval ‘No!’ The key is to move quickly to avoid a messy accident. A loud reprimand when you see the puppy start to relieve itself in this way will help it associate the correction with the error. It will be a signal that this is something for it to avoid doing in the future.
After this, lead your puppy outside and allow it to relieve itself at the appropriate place. As soon as the puppy finishes its business, don’t forget to express your approval or praise through patting and verbal expressions such as, ‘Good dog!’ (or however you would like to vocalize it).
If after bringing the pet to the designated area, you observe it trotting away or trying to head off elsewhere, gently pick it up, lead it back and reissue your command. If the puppy still keeps avoiding the area, there could be an external reason that needs to be investigated further.
Some people use instructions like, ‘Hurry up’ to communicate to the pet that it needs to do its business quickly for example during winter when it is cold outside.
Here are further details on how to socialize your pet and to train it to understand the meaning of the words and tones that you use to communicate.
3. Designate Key Areas
Remember, the ideal spot for your puppy to rest should be clear of objects that could injure it. It is not enough to find a spot that is convenient for you as the owner. It needs to be convenient for the puppy.
Once the puppy is content and accustomed to viewing the area around its bed as its resting place, it will not be inclined to relieve itself there. This is also the place where you set the puppy’s food, water, and toys.
Giving your puppy free reign to wander about the house unsupervised is risky because this increases the chances that it will relieve itself wherever it finds suitable.
You need to keep the area set aside for the dog secure. Ensure that your pet does not have access to other parts of the house at this stage, since they can be quite curious and have the desire to explore. The use of a baby gate is beneficial because the puppy will still be able to see you even when you are not immediately present.
The dog needs to be conditioned through this training to always eliminate on dirt or grass as opposed to carpets, sofas, upholstery, floors, or other objects in the house.
If your puppy has not yet reached the appropriate age, you need to keep it contained in the room you have chosen when you are not around. Cover the floor of the room with paper or other material that you can change later.
As the puppy gets older, it will become clear that it prefers a specific spot. At this point, you will not need to protect the entire floor of the room — only the part it has chosen.
This will also be the ideal spot to set up the litterbox. Remember, your crate is an essential part of this training process. It is your puppy's bedroom and should be treated as such. Limit the time the puppy spends in the crate to no more than two hours at a time so that the crate is not used as a toilet. More details on how to crate train your puppy can be found in this article.
4. Set up the Right Conditions
Before you begin the housebreaking process, ensure your puppy does not have any digestive problems or pre-existing medical issues problematic to the absorption and assimilation of food and water. This would render the housebreaking process impossible, especially if the puppy is having a case of diarrhea.
Establishing the health of your puppy before you begin this process is crucial. It would be regrettable to reprimand your pet for not relieving itself in the right place, only to discover later that it has been suffering from an excretory dysfunction or other condition.
- Since the need to relieve itself usually comes after your puppy has eaten, maintain a regular schedule of feeding with the same time intervals.
- Control the amount of food and water you set out and do not give the puppy unrestricted access.
- Also, avoid overfeeding your pet. Provide it instead with food and water in quantities that it can process normally.
- Does your dog have the habit of peeing during the night? The way to curb this is to block access to water right before it turns in.
It has been said that dogs are like politicians. They want to please you all the time!
Hence, showing them an appreciation for something they have done well, reinforces the action, and strengthens the possibility that the action will be repeated.
Complimenting your pet as soon as it does something correctly (by words, treats, toys, or playtime ) serves to establish a pattern. Be generous with your praise and other expressions of encouragement. This is positive reinforcement and it is key to effective dog training.
Also, bear in mind that the mood of the dog affects how effective the training will be. So ensure that there is no intimidation, fear, or confusion during this process. Avoid impatience. Demonstrate love and respect instead. Be gentle, encouraging, and consistent.
No matter how meticulous you are, remember that accidents do happen. You, therefore, need to make provision for mistakes in advance. Don’t punish your dog if it gets things wrong. Bear in mind that certain activities, for example, grooming, can trigger your puppy’s metabolism.
If the accident happens in the house, remove the mess and then clean up the area thoroughly with an odor-eliminating detergent. This is because if the scent is not completely obliterated, the dog (whose sense of smell is thousands of times more powerful than yours) will conclude that this is the correct place to relieve itself. Traces of the smell still lingering in the air could trigger its memory.
So don't let an accident get at you. Set it aside and move on with the process. After all, patience is required even for us humans to get it right.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.