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Puppy Potty Training Tips
Dec 28, 2021

Puppy Potty Training Tips

Potty training is one of the most important first steps once you’ve adopted a puppy. Though highly rewarding, the process will require patience and kindness as your dog learns the appropriate time and place to go. Consistency will be critical for your puppy to learn to trust your family and respect your expectations.

Your new pup’s introduction to its home and family will lay the foundation for your relationship. When introducing your puppy to its new home, only show areas of the home where it will be allowed to be, and close off areas that will be off-limits to avoid confusion. Learn about your puppy’s breed to be aware of their behaviors and needs. A tiny dog will have a tiny bladder and will be more accident prone than a larger breed, trained or not. It is a good idea to keep your puppy in a smaller, more enclosed space while in the beginning stages of potty training so you can keep a closer eye on their behavior!

Recognize When your Dog Needs to Go

If possible, it is a good idea to be able to keep an eye on your puppy throughout the day and look out for signs that they need to go. Signs to look out for are circling, scratching, sniffing, whining, and sudden behavioral changes. Once you see this, it is important to lead the dog outside. Preparing a leash by the door will help get your puppy out the door as quickly as possible. Since they are still developing the muscles necessary to hold their eliminations, very young puppies might have to go outside more than once per hour. You will be able to lengthen the time between trips as you gauge your puppy’s needs and bathroom queues. Adhering to a feeding and potty break schedule as closely as possible every day will help the puppy training process progress as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Puppy Accidents

If you catch your puppy eliminating indoors, say a firm word such as “no”, then lead the dog outside. This is meant to capture the dog’s attention but not scare it, so it knows of your disapproval. Your reaction should be consistent each time so as not to confuse your dog. It is important NOT to punish your puppy for accidents! Your puppy won't know that it is doing anything wrong and might just become afraid of you. They might also start hiding from you when it needs to go and do it in places that are hard to reach.

Going Outdoors

It’s a good idea to pick a specific spot outside the home to go each time, particularly one that is very close and easy to get to. Every time you lead your puppy outdoors to go, pick a consistent word command to teach it to use that specific spot. With a bit of time your puppy will recognize and understand the command. It is important to allow your dog to relax, and not to interrupt and distract it from doing its business. Afterward, allow your dog to have a bit of fun outdoors to prevent it from associating going potty with ending the fun. Otherwise, they might start to hold it in longer while you’re outside.

The Crate Method

Just like people, dogs don’t enjoy using their own sleeping space as a bathroom. Keeping your puppy in a crate for no more than a few hours at a time except for nighttime can help with the potty training process. It is important to make sure that the crate is just big enough for your dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around. Any bigger and your puppy might start using one corner as a bathroom! Just keep an ear out for scratches and whimpers to make sure that your pup gets outside on time.

Positive Reinforcement

Praise your pup’s successes with cheerful praise, a treat, or a favorite toy after it uses the appropriate area. Positive reinforcement will show your dog that it will be rewarded for good behavior and make a positive association with outdoor elimination.

When to Use Potty Pads

In general, it is not recommended to substitute pee pads for going outside unless you are in a situation where you will not be able to get your puppy to an outdoor area quickly enough, must leave them indoors for an extended period of time, or have limited mobility. Over relying on pads can delay the training progress.

Cleaning up Accidents

It’s important to clean up accidents thoroughly right away. Dogs are attracted to the strong scent of ammonia found in urine and will try to use that same spot again if they can smell it. Place paper towels down to absorb the pee, then fully saturate the affected area with a generous amount of enzymatic cleanser such as Urine Off, allowing it to air dry without scrubbing. The longer the enzymatic cleanser is left on a surface, the better the results will be. If necessary, repeat application for a few days and/or place plastic wrap down to slow evaporation. When odors persist, an LED Urine Finder can be used to find urine deposits not visible to the eye.