One of the most common inquiries I receive as a dog trainer when someone brings home a new puppy is, “How do I go about potty training my puppy?” This is often followed by the question, “How long will it take for my puppy to be fully potty trained?” First, let’s address the latter question because the answer is relatively straightforward: it depends!
While most puppies are potty trained by six months, the training process can vary due to several factors. One important aspect to consider is your puppy’s health. If you’re having any trouble with potty training, or if you’re following this guide but still struggling, please be sure your puppy is healthy. Unfortunately, if a puppy is unwell, experiences gastrointestinal issues like worms, or develops a urinary tract infection (UTI), it can result in more potty accidents. Since the puppy is not yet potty trained, these circumstances can lengthen the time required for successful training. It’s crucial to ensure your puppy has no underlying medical issues affecting their potty training. If any health concerns arise, address them promptly with your veterinarian. When in doubt, take your puppy to the vet!
Now, let’s delve into the favorite question of every puppy owner!
How Do I Potty Train My Puppy?
Potty training can be broken down into three simple steps: Schedule, Manage, and Reward. By following these steps diligently, you’ll be well on your way to potty training success in no time!
Maintaining a consistent schedule is essential for successful potty training. Let’s start with sleep schedules, as many people wonder if they need to wake up at night to take their puppy outside. Young puppies cannot hold their bladder all night, so it’s crucial to establish a routine that involves taking them out to potty right before bedtime, setting an alarm to take them out during the night, and ensuring an early morning potty break. You can always go back to sleep, but neglecting to take your puppy outside during these crucial times can lead to accidents!
Additionally, having a meal schedule for your puppy is beneficial. Try to provide most of their meals or chews at the same time every day. This helps regulate their system, making it easier to anticipate when they will need to go potty. Pick up the puppy’s water a couple of hours before bedtime to ensure they don’t drink a bunch right before bed.
Management plays a pivotal role in successful potty training. It involves preventing accidents by never giving your puppy free rein in the house. Your puppy should be supervised by a responsible adult or confined to a small area using a crate, playpen, or baby gate.
Before confining the puppy to a specific area, always take them outside to potty. It’s also a good idea to ensure they have had some exercise and are sufficiently tired. When your puppy is confined, provide them with engaging activities such as food puzzles, snuffle mats, and chew toys to prevent them from seeking alternative entertainment.
The final piece of the potty training puzzle is lots of rewards! I always recommend rewarding your puppy with ample praise and some delicious treats for going potty outside. This reinforces the desired behavior and lets your puppy know they have done the right thing. You can also reward them with more freedom outdoors after they have successfully eliminated. Keep your puppy on a leash until they potty. Once they do, allow them off-leash playtime or running as a reward. If your yard is not fenced, use a long line but keep it short until they finish pottying. Once they have gone, it’s playtime!
During Puppy Socialization classes at Golden Paws Dog Training, you can get individualized help with your puppy’s potty training. Our experienced instructors can help you troubleshoot or give you tailored advice for you and your dog.
Things to Avoid When Potty Training Your Puppy
Regarding rewards, avoiding unintentionally punishing your puppy for going potty outside is important. This can happen if you immediately take them inside after they eliminate, especially if they enjoy being outside. Make sure to give them a short walk or playtime after pottying before you head back inside. The only exception is overnight when they should be sleeping.
Please refrain from yelling at your dog or puppy and avoid putting their nose into any messes they make. Why? Because puppies often associate our displeasure with the mess itself rather than understanding that we are upset about them going potty in the house. This can result in a higher likelihood of the puppy “sneaking off” to potty in places where you won’t see them.
If you’re facing challenges with your puppy’s potty training, you can download our potty training log HERE to help you and your new furry companion get back on track!