As a dog-lover you know that there are few things as exciting as adopting a new pup. While welcoming a new puppy into your family is incredibly rewarding, it can also be quite challenging - especially when it comes to potty training.
If you haven’t cared for a puppy in quite some time, you can freshen up your potty-training skills with the following helpful guidelines.
Although you may not think about it often, you likely have your own restroom routines. Perhaps you wake up and take a bathroom break before hopping in the shower. Or perhaps you run to the restroom every day at 10a before gulping down yet another cup of coffee. A consistent schedule of regular bathroom breaks will also help your puppy learn where and when to go.
Two-month old puppies need a bathroom break at least every three hours, while four-month old puppies can wait for up to five hours between breaks. When it is time for a scheduled break, take your puppy directly outside to his specific “potty spot”. If your puppy relieves himself as planned, pile on the praise. Over time, your puppy will learn to associate proper potty habits with praise and reward.
Further, make sure to watch for signs that your puppy may need a break, even if it doesn’t fit with your regular routine. Sniffing, circling, barking, and whining are indications that your puppy may need to go outside.
A crate can be an invaluable tool for potty training your puppy. When used correctly, your puppy will view his crate as a place of safety and security. He will not want to relieve himself in this “personal space” and, as a result, will learn to wait until you take him outside to do so.
When selecting a crate, make sure that it is large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down in, but not large enough to use the corner as a makeshift “potty spot”. Also make sure to stick with your bathroom break routine - you absolutely do not want your puppy to reach a point where he soils his crate because he simply cannot hold it any longer.
Your puppy will learn which behaviors are acceptable, and which are not, by watching how you respond to his actions. Every time you praise your puppy for properly relieving himself outside in his “potty spot” you reinforce that desirable behavior.
Some new dog owners may assume that punishing accidents will also help to enforce proper behavior; however, training isn’t actually this simple.
Whether you catch your puppy 30 seconds or 30 minutes after an accident, he will not be able to connect your scolding with his undesirable behavior.
Yelling, or otherwise reacting with anger, will simply scare your puppy and make proper training even more difficult.
If you catch your puppy in the middle of an accident, interrupt him and bring him directly outside to his “potty spot”. Once he is finished, lavishly praise this good behavior. Also make sure to thoroughly clean any “indoor accidents” to remove odors that may attract your puppy back to that spot.
In the end, proper housetraining revolves around patience, diligence, and praise. By closely monitoring your puppy you can minimize any opportunities for undesirable behaviors, quickly correct any potential mistakes, and reinforce the good behaviors that your puppy will learn to perform with time.