Welcome to the challenges of potty training a new puppy! Bringing home a new furry friend is an exciting adventure, but it comes with its share of struggles. Don't worry; I've got you covered! As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer specializing in reward-based and evidence-based methods, I'm here to guide you through the process. In this article, we'll embark on a journey to understand the ins and outs of potty training your new puppy. So, let's roll up our sleeves and get started!
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of potty training a new puppy, let's talk about why it's such a big deal. Proper potty training isn't just about preventing accidents on your living room rug; it's a critical part of your puppy's early education. Here's why it matters:
Maintaining a clean and pleasant living space is not just a matter of convenience; it can have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one of the most common reasons people relinquish their pets to shelters is because of house soiling issues. In fact, the ASPCA reports that approximately 10% of dogs surrendered to shelters are there due to problems with house training. This statistic underscores the importance of proper potty training in preventing dogs from being abandoned.
Imagine coming home after a long day at work, looking forward to relaxation, only to find your floors soiled by your dog and having to clean up with special enzymatic cleaners. The frustration and stress caused by such situations can strain the bond between you and your furry friend. Proper potty training not only keeps your home clean but also helps create a harmonious living environment for both you and your pup.
The process of potty training a new puppy is not just about teaching your dog where and when to go potty; it's an opportunity to build a strong emotional connection. When you engage in positive reinforcement during potty training, your puppy begins to associate you with rewards, praise, and the joy of success. This interaction fosters trust, communication, and a deepening bond between you and your four-legged companion.
Think about it: your puppy relies on you for guidance and support. When you help them navigate the potty training process, you're demonstrating your commitment to their well-being. This shared experience can lay the foundation for a loving and loyal relationship that lasts a lifetime.
Successful puppy potty training sets the stage for a lifetime of good habits. A well-trained puppy is more likely to grow into a well-behaved adult dog. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), puppies that receive proper training and socialization are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems in the future.
By investing time and effort in potty training your puppy and cleaning all surfaces with an enzymatic cleaner, you're not only ensuring a more peaceful and enjoyable life together but also contributing to the broader effort of reducing the number of dogs abandoned or surrendered to shelters. It's a win-win situation for both you and your furry friend.
So, as we delve into the step-by-step guide to potty training, remember that you're not just teaching your pup where to do their business; you're laying the foundation for a happy, healthy, and enduring relationship.
Every puppy is a unique individual, but there are some general principles that apply to all when it comes to potty training a new puppy. It's vital to get in tune with your puppy's specific needs and characteristics.
Different dog breeds have distinctive temperaments, energy levels, and characteristics that can influence their potty training experience. Understanding breed-specific traits can provide valuable insights into what to expect during potty training. However, each dog is an individual, this means that your Border collie may behave differently than the average Border collie, and that is OK. Getting to know your unique puppy is key to understand what he or she needs. What to look for?
Some breeds, like Border Collies, are renowned for their intelligence and quick learning abilities. On the other hand, breeds like Basset Hounds or Shiba Inus are known for their independence, stubbornness or difficulty to be trained. Let’s get this myth out of the way quickly, so we can move on to more important things.
The sooner you accept this truth, the faster you’ll get the obedient and social dog you wish for.
All dogs are smart and can learn to pee in one place if you use the correct potty training methods and enzymatic cleaning supplies. Regardless of breed, size, age and environment they live in, ALL DOGS CAN LEARN. However, your dog may learn at a different speed from your neighbor’s dog, and this may be due to environment, trainer, frequency of training and many other factors that are independent from your puppy’s abilities.
High-energy breeds, such as Dalmatians or Boxers, may need more frequent outdoor breaks and exercise to expend their energy. A puppy that needs more exercise is also a puppy that will drink water more often, needing more potty outings too. And on this note, water should ALWAYS be available to your puppy.
However, as mentioned above, breed or size should no affect your training method. What may affect your schedule are the characteristics of your unique puppy.
It doesn’t matter if you are potty training a Chihuahua, Yorkie, Labrador Retriever or Great Dane. The following rules apply to all dogs:
Now, this is an average. Your puppy may hold it for longer or shorter periods of time; the holding period may vary depending on the time of day, how much exercise your puppy had or what he/she ate. So, take this average…but then adjusted to your individual puppy and know that it may change some days.
Grab a piece of paper and write down every time your puppy pees. Write down the date, time and place. You can put the paper on the fridge to have it near by and encourage everyone in the family to help out.
After 2-5 days you should be able to notice some sort of patter, keep in mind that it won't be perfect and that is OK.
As you do your detective work, keep in mind the rule about how long your puppy can hold its bladder along with the following rules:
Now that we've covered the basics of understanding your puppy's needs, let's dive into setting up the stage to successfully potty training a new puppy. This step is crucial as it creates the environment and provides the tools necessary for effective training.
Establishing a designated potty area is fundamental for a streamlined potty training process. Having a specific spot for your puppy to do their business reinforces the routine. Your pup will begin to associate that area with the act of going potty, making it easier for them to understand your expectations. In addition, concentrating your puppy's waste in one area makes cleanup more manageable. You can quickly remove waste from this spot, reducing the risk of lingering odors.
Potty training a new puppy requires essential tools and supplies. These include:
You can find dog potty training pads on amazon and buy 50 or 100 for a good price.
A good alternative to pads is to use synthetic grass. You can wash the tray and grass to keep it clean and avoid wasteful pads.
Pick a crate that is big enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around but not so big he can pee in a corner.
If you are only going to buy one thing, an Enzymatic Uriner Cleaner should be your pick!
Consistency is the golden rule when potty training a new puppy, regardless of your dog's breed, age, or size. Puppies thrive on predictability and routine, and it's up to you to establish and maintain that consistency.
By now you should have a better idea of how often and during which times of the day your puppy needs to potty. You should also have all the necessary supplies, a designated potty area and your puppy should be on a regular eating and walking schedule. (You can do all of these in about 2-3 days!). Now it’s time to teach your puppy where to potty.
Positive reinforcement is the heart of potty training. It's all about rewarding good behavior to encourage its repetition. Here's how to make it work:
Your puppy will soon start giving you signals to let you know he needs to go potty. Pay close attention to these signals and take your puppy to the designated area immediately.
But keep in mind, not all signals are clear and obvious! Some puppies will stand next to the door, scratch the door or even bark at the door; these are clear and obvious signals. Other puppies may start pacing around or sniffing the floor more intently, this is not a very clear signal and you will need to pay close attention. Yet other dogs may give you completely unclear signals.
This is an optional step, not all dogs need it, but it can help you achieve your goal faster. Your puppy should have a set schedule of activities, something that looks like this:
- Wake up and go to pee
- Eat and play then go to pee
- Wake up and go to pee
- Eat and/or play then go to pee
- An so on and so forth….
The question is what happens during that “rest” and “play” times, how can I help my puppy rest or play appropriately. The answer is to use restraining. This could be the use of a crate, where your puppy can be confined to rest or play with a chew toy. If you want to learn more about how to create a crate training schedule, follow this link.
If you decide not to use a crate, then make sure you keep an eye on your puppy, specially near pee times!
As your puppy grows and starts -waiting- to go outside or asks every time to go outside, you can start fading out the crate and letting your puppy have more freedom to roam the house, follow you around or play with her toys anywhere in the house.
Potty training a new puppy -You did it! All it takes is a little planning, patience and treats!
Potty training a new puppy isn't always a smooth journey; it's important to recognize and address common obstacles that can arise during the process.
The short answer is - You clean it up!
Despite your best efforts, accidents are a part of the potty training process. Here's how to handle them: Clean up accidents promptly. Use pet-safe enzymatic cleaners to thoroughly remove odors, as residual smells can attract your puppy back to the same spot.
Never scold or punish your puppy for accidents. It can create fear and anxiety, hindering the training process.
Many puppies can experiences potty training regression, if this happens to you, you need to go back at being a detective. There are many reason why a house trained dog suddenly has accidents.
1- You puppy never truly learned to potty in one place: Puppies are like little kids, they need lots of repetition and practice to truly learn something. You may think your puppy “knows” where to go potty, but if he/she is having accidents, chances are he needs more training. Solution: Go back to the plan above and keep reinforcing your puppy for potting in the right spot.
2- Your puppy may be feeling stressed or afraid: Many common daily situations may be stressful for your puppy. Maybe you stayed home the first couple of weeks after adoption and now you went back to work, leaving your puppy alone for hours at a time. This may cause stress which will make your puppy more likely to potty everywhere. Other examples of stress-causing situations are: moving to a new home, guests or family visiting and staying with you, new neighbors, new construction near by, any other stressful situation. Solution: Identify the stressor if possible and remove it (if possible) or work with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help your puppy overcome its fear. Then go back to potty training basics.
3- Medical issues: the most common reason for a potty trained dog to regress is a urinary infection. Your vet can treat this with an antibiotic and get your dog back to normal! There are other medical issues that can cause a dog to regress. Solution: check with your vet if you think your dog may have a health issue affecting his potty training.
Keep in mind that many dogs can keep having accidents until they are 6 months old. So, stay calm, breath, play with your new puppy and keep on with the potty training plan.
It is possible your puppy likes specific surfaces, most puppies like soft and absorbent ones. Unfortunately, sofas, beds and rugs are excellent options. If your puppy has found a place he really likes to potty but you can’t accept as a potty place, the best option is to block that area until your puppy learns to go in the designated area and clean it thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner. Yes, this means you may have to keep your puppy away from your room for couple of months. But think, what is “a couple or months” compared to “the rest of your dogs life”?!
Solution: Block the area and continue with the potty training plan.
Case study: Staffy was a cute mix-breed puppy learning to potty outside. She lived in a 2-bedroom apartment where most floors where ceramic, but the bedrooms had wood. Even though Staffy was learning to go potty outside, she sometimes would sneak into one of the rooms and pee on the wooden floor. My recommendation for Staffy was to keep the door of that room closed and continue with potty training. A couple of months later, Staffy was reliable peeing outside (even sitting at the door to signal she needed to go), and it was time to test the wooden floor. The owners open the door but Staffy never went there again.
It is all about creating a habit, we humans are taught to pee/poo in a toilet. From when we are really young we practice going potty in the toilet. If today somebody asks you to pee on a carpet in the living room, would you be able to do it? Not even with a threat, it would be very very difficult. That is what we are training our puppies to do, to pee/poo in the designated area until it is a habit and going anywhere else is out of the question.
If you follow the advice given so far for potty training a new puppy, you should be able to house train your dog without much problem. You may even get interested in continuing with training, that is great! In this section, I want to give you a few extra tips and things you can do to elevate the process to the next level.
I know you already adopted your best friend, but I can’t end this article without educating you about responsible dog breeding. We can all make an impact on the well-being of many dogs.
Unfortunately, there are many people trying to make money the easy way and at the cost of the well-being of dogs. If you buy a puppy from a breeder, please make sure the breeder knows how to care for puppies (and the mom) before you adopt. There are many things a breeder can do to increase the chances of their puppies growing up as well-adjusted dogs, yes it starts THAT EARLY.
A good breeder will:
If you adopt from a good breeder, your chances of potty training a new puppy in a short-period of time increase 10-fold (just a figure of speach, but really!). If you adopted from a “puppy mill”, your chances of having a puppy with potty problems are very high.
Puppy mills are places where female dogs are forced to have a litter twice a year and dogs are kept in very small places which makes them pee and poo where they sleep and even start eating their own feces. After adoption you will see such behaviors in your puppy and will need to work harder to get him or her on the straight path.
How to avoid a puppy mill? ALWAYS ask to meet the puppies in person, you should be able to meet puppies and dog mom, check references from past adopters and see the conditions in which puppies are being bred.
The best way to get rid of puppy mills is to stop buying from them.
There is a breeder program called "Puppy Culture", it's a great program that teaches breeders how to best care for the puppies until they are adopted. They can start teaching them potty training, prevent aggression problems, start early socialization and a lot more. If your breeder follows the "Puppy Culture" program, it's a good sign!
Potty training a new puppy with specific potty-related commands can be highly effective. For example, you can use words like "go potty”, "do your business" or “showtime” to signal when it's time for them to eliminate.
How to Teach the “Go potty” command?
Teaching your dog to pee and/or poo on command is a required skill for service dogs. For example, guide dogs for the blind can’t poo in the street (how would the owner pick up the poop?). So, they are taught to pee/poo on command in the yard before going out.
If you puppy is not giving you any clear signals that he or she needs to go potty, you can teach him to do it.
Potty training a new puppy to touch a bell:
In conclusion, potty training a new puppy is a milestone that lays the foundation for a harmonious and loving relationship with your new pet. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you're equipped with the knowledge and techniques to navigate this essential phase of your puppy's life.
To summarize the key takeaways:
Potty training a new puppy may have its challenges, but the reward of a well-trained, well-adjusted, and happy puppy is more than worth it.
Remember that your puppy's success is also your success. Celebrate each step in the right direction and cherish the moments as you watch your furry companion grow into a well-behaved, delightful adult dog.
This article was written by Natalia Rozas, Ph.D. and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA #4071465) on October 26th, 2023. The case studies and anecdotes are real but to protect the privacy of our clients the names and details are changed.