Puppy Potty Training

potty-training-small-dogsYes, you can potty train your puppy no matter how young he or she is. You can even potty train an adult dog no matter how old.

The truth is your puppy doesn’t know where it’s appropriate to eliminate and where it is not. Dogs only have two criteria for where they relieve themselves.

  1. It must not be near their food or sleeping place
  2. It should be absorbent. That means grass is a good bet. But your carpet and rugs also fit the bill. So, how do we show the dog which is the best place?

Begin by blocking any chance your dog will eliminate in the house. To achieve that you will have to make sure your dog is always interacting with you (supervise, supervise, supervise) or safely confined. The one question you should never have to ask yourself is “where is the dog?” This is called errorless potty training. There is now no chance your dog can make a mistake – unless you do.

  1. Your dog is supervised or
  2. Your dog is safely confined.
  3. Reward your dog on the spot for going potty outside.

At the same time, show your dog that eliminating outdoors is an excellent choice. You can pick the exact spot if you like. Just lead your puppy to the selected location on-leash. As soon as your dog has completed urinating or defecating, praise him or her and deliver three delicious treats one after the other. You are now showing your dog how to trade in urine and feces for treats! Do it right on the spot. Don’t wait for her to come back in.

It’s important that you never lose your temper with your puppy for eliminating. Mistakes you catch should be handled calmly but quickly taking by saying “outside” and taking the puppy outdoors to the appropriate potty spot. Physically reprimanding or even yelling will only teach the puppy to not go potty in front of you. It won’t teach the puppy anything about indoors versus outdoors. Missed mistakes are just that. Let them go and do a better job of supervising and confining next time.

In the beginning, take your puppy outside every hour. Older puppies can only physically hold it about an hour for every month in age they are (4 month old puppy = 4 to 5 hours maximum). Expect your puppy to eliminate more than once on every journey out (two puddles and two piles as author, Joel Walton CPDT puts it). If your puppy doesn’t go, safely confine him or her in the crate for 10-15 minutes and try again. Your puppy should have to go potty immediately after sleep, play or feeding.

Potty training can take as little as a few weeks and as much as a few months. In either case, experiment with giving your dog more freedom a little at a time. Your efforts now will pay off significantly in the long run.