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Puppy Potty Training - Four Steps to Successfully Potty Train Your Dog

 by wai on 19 Feb 2014 |
1 Comment(s)

It's one of the indisputable laws of nature: what goes in one end must come out the other. It's the question of when and where it comes out that causes problems for the owner of a new puppy. Potty training a new dog is one of the first things you'll want to do, and life will be much more pleasant for everyone once your puppy has mastered this skill.
When your dog is a puppy, he doesn't possess the muscle control of his bowels and bladder to be able to decide when to empty them. He also doesn't understand the language that you will be using to try and teach him the rights and wrongs of when and where to do his business. It's important to remember this - your puppy will need to wee and poo, and there's no point in scolding him if he does it in the wrong place. No dog is a mind reader, and it is your duty, as the owner and pack leader, to communicate how you want things done. Luckily, just by following a few simple rules, you can teach your puppy where it's appropriate to do his business, and hopefully avoid too many unpleasant accidents along the way.

Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 1: Confinement

When puppies are newly born, their mother licks them to stimulate them to excrete. After they have finished doing their business, she licks the puppies again, to clean them up.  This means that, as the puppies grow, they develop the desire to want to sleep somewhere that isn't covered in wee and poo. Given a choice, a puppy will instinctively keep their bed area clean. As such, some form of confinement will help your puppy develop the control he needs for successful potty training.

The best way to start the confinement stage of potty training is by using a crate.  The crate shouldn't be too big, or else the puppy will be tempted to use one end as a toilet, and the other for sleeping.  If your puppy is going to grow to a big size within a few months, and you don't want to be buying several crates, it is possible to get one that's partitioned, enabling you to increase the area as the puppy grows, whilst still being able to keep it the right size for potty training.

Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 2: Training and Praise

Many dog trainers use a leash or a lead when potty training puppies. Making use of a leash ensures that you can keep the dog close to you, which will give you control over where your dog will eliminate.  It's best to use a slip-type lead for ease and speed of putting it on; even if your puppy is still a bit young to be lead trained, you can still slip it over his head and carry him outside.  Young dogs are easily distracted and can mentally stray from the job in hand, so a little tug on the leash will help refocus their mind.
Pick a suitable area of your garden as the potty corner, behind the shed, for example. With your puppy on a leash, guide him down there every time you feel he is ready to do his duty, and before long, he will go there of his own accord.

The words you use whilst your puppy is doing his business are also important, as they help reinforce the potty training effort.  Be consistent, and make sure it's easy to say, because whatever phrase you choose, you'll be using it a lot! "Go potty" for wee, and "Go poop" for poo are effective, although you can use whatever words you feel most comfortable with.

The most important word you need to teach your puppy is 'Outside'.  Every time you take your puppy outside, use it repeatedly, in a bright and cheery tone. Dogs love to be outside, as they associate it with freedom and playtime. Eventually, just saying the word 'outside' will have your puppy running for the door in excitement.

Once you are outside, put your puppy down and change the emphasis to the 'go potty' or' go poop' command, whichever you have chosen.  Let your puppy have a sniff around the area and move about until they feel settled, but keep them within the space you have decided to make their potty area.  Use a little nudge on the lead if he gets distracted, and repeat the 'go potty' command.  Make sure you say the command in a friendly and encouraging tone; you don't want to sound firm or angry, nor do you want to be pleading for him to do it. Then, when he starts to do his business, give him verbal encouragement in a happy and pleasant tone of voice.
Be sure to only use verbal praise, as any physical petting can disturb the motion in progress.  Dogs will usually wee first then poo, but you will quickly learn your own dog's routine, and be able to encourage him to wee or poop appropriately.

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Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 3: Timing

As your puppy learns the rules of elimination, they will start to earn themselves freedom from the crate. The best time to allow your puppy out is when he's just done his business, but he will still need to be closely supervised.  The key is to be constantly observant of your dog's behavior and body language, so you can anticipate what's going to happen.  All puppies and dogs will have their own idiosyncratic behavior which signals that they need to go potty.  These may include circling, sniffing, stopping an activity abruptly, or running out of the room. If you spot these signs, take your puppy outside and follow the procedure for having them poop in the right place. Your dog will also need to go outside if there's a change in circumstances, for example, after a walk, a sleep or eating.

A rule of thumb is that the age of the dog, in months, is the time, in hours, that the puppy can cope between potty breaks. For example, a one month old puppy can cope for one hour, but a four month puppy can cope for four hours. This is true up to around seven months in age, by which point, hopefully your puppy will be fully potty trained.

Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 4: Accidents

There will still be accidents whilst you're potty training your puppy. If you should catch him whilst he's doing his business, a loud hand clap to distract him, and a firm, low voice to communicate your displeasure will be enough to drive the message home. You don't want to terrify him, but you do want him to know you're unhappy.  Quickly scoot him outside with your friendly and encouraging 'outside' voice.  Then, if he continues what he started, heap on lots of praise.

There is no point whatsoever in punishing your puppy when he has weed or pooped in the wrong place at the wrong time. The message your puppy will receive from such a punishment is that they should only wee or poop when you're not around, which will only cause even more problems.  Think of such an accident as an opportunity to teach your puppy how to do things correctly. As with every lesson in life, the more it is repeated, the quicker it is learned.


glenna - Comment
glenna19 Feb 2014Reply
tks! we are just at the potty training stage with our little boy and no matter how many times one has done this it is good to get a refresh on how to do it,and a reminder to bite our tongs now and then as it takes time!!

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