Your new puppy’s got it all; energy, playfulness, loyalty, and he couldn’t get any more adorable. You’re already so attached to him and don’t remember how you ever put a smile on your face before he came along. If only he were potty trained, then he could truly be your best friend. Don’t be shortchanged. Read on for a how-to on potty training your new companion.
How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Dog?
The short answer is it varies. Every dog is different in how she’ll respond to different methods. Timing also depends on the age you’re starting at, as well as what is in your pet’s past that may cause a delay. One thing is for sure, don’t expect an overnight success because you’re not going to get one. Also, expect there to be setbacks. Even though your pup may seem to have the routine down, there may be the occasional accident. The important thing to remember is reward her for doing right and never scold her for an accident.
For puppies, remember they don’t have the capacity or muscle coordination to hold it for very long, liquids or solids. A puppy can typically hold his bladder for the number of hours that he is months old. For example, a two month old puppy will be looking to go every two hours. I hope you’re ready for that! This guide works for puppies up to nine months old. After that, 10-12 hours is tops for any age of dog. All this means is it’s going to be awhile before you can trust your puppy home alone all day while you’re at work.
Older dogs, especially rescue dogs, may have some abuse or improper training in their past that makes potty training more difficult. There may be some other issues that you will have to overcome before starting the potty training routine. Just remain positive and don’t punish for any mishaps.
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What Are the Methods of Potty Training Dogs?
The method of potty training that you choose will depend a lot on your situation and your puppy. If you live in an apartment, potty training may look a lot different than if you live on a farm. Look at your options and decide which will work best for you.
- Crate Training: Crate training is a very common way to potty train dogs, especially dogs that are going to be traveling. Crates give dogs their own space, like giving a child his own room. It becomes his safe and comfy spot where he can go to sleep, hide, or just relax. Most dogs won’t want to make a mess in their own space so they will try to let you know when they need out. You should also make sure to let them out frequently until they get the idea. Each time your pup goes potty outside the kennel, praise like crazy. Act like he just reinvented the wheel. Give him a treat, lots of love, and of course, lots of ‘good doggy’ talk. Don’t ever punish him for pottying in the crate, just remember to let him out more frequently in the future.
Some pet parents won’t like crate training because they don’t want to confine their precious pet. Totally understandable, but just remember they only need to be in the crate until potty training is complete. Some pups will develop a connection to the crate and want to use it after potty training. Some may want to sleep in it or at least have it available as a comfort place to go. Another big plus is if you’re going to be traveling with your pup, it never hurts for them to appreciate and feel comfortable in a crate.
- Paper Training: If you don’t have a lot of access to outdoor space, paper training may be the way to go. This works for small dogs or if you live up several flights of stairs and don’t want to run up and down them every couple of hours. Basically, paper training is showing your pup an area in your home where it’s okay to potty. Use puppy pads, papers, or something else that’s super absorbent, place them in an area that’s easily cleaned, take your pup there frequently and encourage her to potty. Again, reward her when she’s performs and never scold for accidents.
Paper training can be a little complicated especially if you’re pup is going to grow bigger than a teacup size. You won’t want to clean up messy papers from bigger dogs. Also, if you’re eventually going to potty train your pooch to go outside, paper training might confuse them because you are saying it is okay to potty in the house. Don’t discount paper training as a temporary fix or first step in your potty training process though.
- Frequent trips outside: If it’s easy and accessible, you may decide to just let your dog outside every couple of hours. You don’t need a crate and you don’t need puppy pads for this one. Just make sure you are going out with her and rewarding her when she does well.
This method can be a little more risky for your indoor space because you dog will be roaming freely in your home, so be ready to clean some carpets. It also requires that you be around all day in order to let her outside. Even if you have a doggy door, you will still need to be there to supervise. Some dogs will use the door to go outside, but forget to potty while they’re out there, or not understand that that is what they’re supposed to do. He’ll need your supervision until he gets the hang of it.
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Potty Training Secrets to Success
If you’re looking to make short work of potty training your pup, the following important tips are must-reads.
- Positive reinforcement only: Really pour on the love and affection for every successful potty. She’s got to feel like she just returned from a trip around the moon. You can give small training treats or just lots of pets and play, whatever your dog responds to best.
Never ever punish your dog for accidents. This not only doesn’t teach your pup potty training, it may even scare him into having more accidents.
- Set a potty schedule: Schedules will help your puppy learn not only where to potty but also when. For very young puppies, knowing when they are more likely to need to potty will help you put them in the right place at the right time. Young puppies are more likely to need to potty first thing in the morning and right before bed. They will also need to go after playing, eating, and drinking. Finally, it’s a good idea to take them out after waking from a nap or after long periods in a crate or other confinement.
Once your puppy matures enough to hold it for several hours at a time, you can arrange the schedule to make it more convenient for you. For example, you may take your dog out first thing in the morning, at lunch time and then as soon as you get home from work. It’s nice to set a schedule so you’re dog isn’t home doing the pee-pee dance waiting for you to let him out.
- Be consistent! The final tidbit of advice for quick and successful potty training is to be consistent in everything you do. Be consistent with the method as well as the schedule. Don’t let your dog outside one day and then use a puppy pad the next. Don’t let her out at six am one day and then not until nine the next. Your pup needs to know what’s expected of him in order to learn what is right.
Troubleshooting Potty Training
Even if you’re doing everything right, expect to have some well, wet and stinky situations.
- Know the cues: Potty training your pup might not seem to be working because you and your dog aren’t speaking the same language. Don’t expect her to come and ask to be shown to the restroom. Instead watch for signs of whining, pacing, pawing at the floor, or posturing to potty. Rush her outside or to the potty place with any of these signs and then praise her when things go well. Soon she’ll realize to go to the door to ‘ask’ to be let out.
- Clean up accidents: You may notice that your dog continually returns to the scene of the crime, or a previous accident. That’s because unless you use a good enzymatic cleaner, there’s going to be some odor left there. This odor may cause them to add to the spot with more and more accidents.
- Trusting too soon: Just because your puppy has been consistent with his potty training so far doesn’t mean you should trust him totally. Stick with the schedule. If you have to, get someone to come in the middle of the day to break up long stretches. Wait until your pup is about a year and is trustworthy before you consider giving him the run of the house.
- Thinking older dogs have it made: Just because you’re potty training an older dog doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier. On the contrary, older dogs can become set in their ways and take a little more time to potty train effectively. Also, rescue dogs may have some abuse in their background that will make potty training even more challenging. Follow the same rules as with a puppy but realize that you may have to fix some other issues first. When in question check with your veterinarian.
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Potty training your pup may sometimes seem like you’re trudging up a never-ending hill. We all want a puddle-free floor in our future, but realize that that comes with diligence, focus, and a lot of petting and doggie talk.