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Potty Training Your Puppy


potty-training-puppyWhether you are living on a vast farm, with plenty of outdoor space for your dog to roam, or in a small apartment with limited outdoor access, potty training is one of the first and most vital milestones for your puppy. It is impossible to know, when you first bring your puppy home, how easy or difficult the process is going to be. Luckily, we have a full set of instructions and tips to ease the process for both you and Fido. The most important step is to not get frustrated and give up! Remember that your pup just wants to please you, and until you make it clear how exactly he can do that, he too will be frustrated and confused.

Step One: Establish the potty-zone

This might be the entirety of your yard, or one small corner of the yard. Either way, establish early on the appropriate area for doing his business. If there is a very specific spot you’d like him to learn, take him directly to that spot every time he needs to go out. Unless you show him where to go, he’ll go where he feel the most comfortable, which might be on your beautiful lawn. Wherever this potty-zone is, make sure he has access to it as often as he needs.

Step Two: Establish a routine

Dogs, just like humans, can conform to a schedule. Dogs actually prefer it more than we humans do. Just because they can’t read a clock doesn’t mean they don’t know when it’s time to be fed or to go outside and use the bathroom. If you start a feeding and bathroom routine early on, they will remember and adhere to it for the rest of their lives. When we first got our youngest dog, when he was only a puppy, we fed both of our dogs at seven in the morning and five in the afternoon, with bathroom time just after, every single day. Now, even though they are both elderly hounds, they still stick to that same schedule.

Step Three: Reward, reward, reward

The most important aspect of any training regimen is the reward system. This is how you let your puppy know that he has done exactly what you wanted him to do, and he will remember that praise next time, and try to perform in the same exact way. When your puppy pees or poops in the potty-zone, give him both verbal praise and a special treat. This reinforces the idea that this is the proper action for him to take.

Step Four: Never punish a “mistake”

Dogs, as much as we love them, do not have the logical faculties to connect their action of going to the bathroom in the house, what we would call a mistake, to the punishment that is being administered. Some people will tell you that the most effective way to keep a dog from soiling the house is to rub their nose in a mess they’ve made. In reality, the puppy will not be able to understand your anger, and will become frightened and even further confused. In general, dogs understand that the “inside” is their “den” and that the “outside” is the potty-zone. Usually, puppies will only go inside when they do not have appropriate access to the place they know they should go.

Tips and Trivia

How often will my puppy need to go out? Puppies, depending on how much they eat and drink, will need to go out every thirty minutes to every hour, this excludes their sleep schedule of course. This may seem like a short duration, but keep in mind that puppies are very small and very young. Luckily, puppies sleep for most of the day and night.

In general, puppies should go out as soon as they wake up, either in the morning or from a nap, right after eating or drinking or playing, when they whine in their crate (take them out, let them go, and then right back into the crate), and every time they ask to go out, once they learn to ask.

Keep an eye on him or use a crate. Unless he is sleeping in view or in his crate, or is outside, puppies need to be monitored. Like children, they like to explore, and that exploration can get them into trouble! Unlike children, they don’t wear a diaper. You will learn fairly quickly what your puppy does when he needs to use the bathroom, so keep an eye on him and make sure you get him out to the potty zone when he needs to go. Signs of needing to go include sniffing the ground and squatting. Your puppy may yip when he needs to go out.

You may not have considered crate training yet, but it can be very beneficial for housetraining an especially stubborn dog. Dogs think of their crates like their dens, and they will not soil them if they can help it. Getting your puppy comfortable in his crate now can help teach him about asking to go out to use the bathroom, and make him easier to travel with and transport in the future.

What do I do if they do go in the house? Housetraining may take a few days, or it may take a few weeks. Our older dog was still having “accidents” in the house, until we brought our younger dog home from the pound, and she saw how much praise he got for going in the proper spot. Remember to stay patient. Find an effective carpet cleaner that really removes the smell and stain of urine and feces. If your puppy can smell or see where he has gone before, he is more likely to try and go there again.

Puppies generally go in the house not because they want to, but because they are very young and do not yet have the control to hold it in. If you see him starting to go in the house, pick him up and take him to the potty-zone. When he finishes out there, praise him. This, in addition to thorough praise for going in the proper place every time you let him out, should be enough to enforce the idea that going outside is good and going inside is not good.

Image by: fitnfurry.wordpress.com

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