Potty Training 101 (Puppy Posts Pt. 2)
So you’ve got a new puppy and you’re having trouble with potty training. You’re finding some not so nice surprises around your house or your puppy is looking you dead in the eye as he squats and does his business. Our first go to is crate training, if you haven’t bought one, do it now, and if you’ve been using puppy pads - ditch them. Crate training is the best tool to implement when you’re working through potty issues, whether it’s with a puppy or even an older dog.
99% of the time a healthy dog will not mess where they sleep if they are in an appropriately sized crate. This means the crate is big enough for them to stand, lay down and turn around, it isn’t meant to be a mansion or a play pen but more like a den. If your crate is big enough that your puppy can pee or poop in the corner and then sleep on the other side, your crate is way too big. Young puppies will need to be let out to potty much more often than an older dog - 1-2 hours per month of age is the general rule so your 8 week old puppy might need to go out every couple hours! Another rule of thumb is puppies will often need to potty 1. After they eat or drink 2. After/during play or exercise 3. And after they’ve woken up from a nap or in the morning (or 3am).
Setting up a food and water schedule will make keeping your puppies potty habits much more predicable. This means no free feeding or free watering. After your pup has finished eating or drinking water, take them out on a leash to a designated potty spot. If you allow your puppy to just run around outside, you can bet that rock or pinecone is going to be higher on their to-do list that going to the bathroom. Give them 10-15mins, wait until they have completely finished before praising, if they don’t go, put them back in the crate and wait another 10-15mins before trying again. Once they start to be a little predictable you can add a “go potty” command. The more you can distinguish “potty time” and “play time” in the yard, the easier it’ll be for your puppy to pick up on it.
If you find you’re taking your OLDER puppy out very often but he isn’t going, start to wait a little more between breaks. Instead of every 3 hours, wait an additional 30-45mins. Remember, if you can’t keep an eye on him, he should be in his crate or on a leash with you in the house. Look for signs of having to go to the bathroom (if you’re out with him on a leash it shouldn’t be too hard), some examples are sniffing excessively, or sniffing in circles - some pups may start to pick up on going to the door but be sure they actually need to go and don’t just want to go play. Remember to leash them up!
If you find your puppy is going inside the house and you’ve caught them in the act (you can’t do this after the fact because your pup won’t link the two). Say “nope”, pick up your puppy if you’re able to and take them to their potty spot. THIS IS NOT A CORRECTION nor are you trying to scare them. The “Nope” is just a marker that “oops this isn’t your potty spot!”, when you do take them outside and they finish going, make sure to praise them! This is also the time to reflect on what you could’ve done differently to avoid the accident, remember puppies are still learning this;) If an accident does happen, be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner as soon as possible to avoid the risk of re-marking.
Be patient with your pups, be ready for accidents and to learn from mistakes, you’ll get through this together.
(Final note. If you’re doing all of the above and your puppy is having multiple accidents or actively going potty in his crate and you’ve been taking him out enough, be sure to get a checkup to rule out any issues such as UTIs)