How to Potty Train a Puppy
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Everyone’s biggest fear when bringing home a new puppy: How do I potty train my puppy and how long will it take to potty train? I’m here to tell you it can be done! And it’s really not that hard. Dogs are smart, they have evolved to live with humans, and they want to please us. Also, their natural instincts tell them to go potty away from where they eat and sleep, so as not to attract predators. Teaching a dog the appropriate place to go potty can be simple when you are given the right tools.
How long will it take?
I usually give a general time frame of 2 weeks. I believe most dogs can be trained to know not to go potty inside in this time frame. Depending on the age of your puppy, this does not mean that they can then hold it for 8 hours. I believe that a fully house trained puppy is one that knows that they are supposed to go potty outside, whether they are always able to, however, is up to you. Your dog depends on you to know their limits, and to give them the proper access to outdoors in order to do their business. The older your puppy gets, the longer they will be able to hold it and be trusted to be home alone.
Steps to Potty Training a New Puppy
Housetraining your puppy can be very exhausting. As long as you are diligent and follow these guidelines, the process will be successful. Be 100% consistent during this time and you will never have to worry about it again. You aren’t going to set your dog up for success if you are trying to potty train while working 8 hours a day. Make sure someone is with the dog at all times during this training. Take 2 weeks off of work if possible. There are two parts to the initial stage of potty training your puppy:
- Keep your eyes on your puppy 24/7 until you are confident he won’t have accidents. Block off a part of the house with a baby gate, tether your dog to your belt loop, or attach a bell to his collar. Anything to ensure you won’t lose track of him. If you don’t know where your dog is, it is safe to assume he is having an accident.
- Get on a schedule. Feed your puppy the same time every day so you can anticipate when he will need to go potty. Take your puppy outside on a leash when it is time, not after it is too late.
- The fewer accidents you puppy has, the less he will think it’s ok to potty inside. Likewise, the more your puppy goes potty outside, the more he will make a habit of that.
- If you find an accident after it has happened, all you can do is clean it up. Your puppy won’t know why she is being punished after the fact. Use a good odor and stain remover, as puppies will go again where they can smell previous accidents. Vinegar is a good option, as is Nature’s Miracle. Their regular stain and odor remover is good for poop accidents, but their Urine Destroyer is an absolute game changer for pee accidents, and you will never need anything else. I like to use paper towels to absorb as much as I can, then spray with the cleaner, then absorb that, then spray again and let it sit. I also use this homemade stain and odor remover for poop accidents.
- While you’re watching your puppy at all times, interrupt any accidents that you see. Clap, yell “ah- ah,” or stomp your feet just enough to startle her so she stops. Then pick her up and take her to her potty spot. If she finishes outside, praise and treat.
The above tips are the very first steps to establishing a routine that will become the regular schedule your dog relies on. As your dog gets older they will develop more bladder control. For every number of months of age your dog is, that’s the maximum number hours they can reliably hold their pee. i.e. if your dog is 2 months, they can hold for 2 hours, if they are 4 months, they can hold for 4 hours. Remember, after playing, drinking, waking, and mealtimes, immediately take your puppy out, regardless of how long it has been.
As you continue to prevent accidents, your dog will get into the habit of only going potty outside. You will be able to keep them inside for longer stretches of time.
There are a few other techniques that go into potty training, with long enough explanations to deserve their own posts: How to teach your puppy to touch a bell to go outside, and how to crate train your puppy.
I do not recommend the use of puppy potty pads. Ready why here.