Savvy Pets

A New Dog Owner’s Guide: How to Potty Train Your Puppy

Owning a dog for the first time is both a huge excitement and a huge responsibility. There’s just something about those new dog snuggles that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But, for many new dog owners, especially those who adopt or purchase a puppy, they quickly start to get a headache when they think about all the training tasks they need to complete with their puppy. One of the biggest tasks (besides getting your puppy used to wearing a dog collar and leash set when going outside) is potty training your puppy. Here’s a brief guide on training your puppy to go potty!  

What Is Puppy Potty Training? 

Puppy potty training isn’t the same as human potty training. While small children are taught to use the toilet in the bathroom, puppies are taught more about signals and timing. Puppy potty training ensures that both you and puppy get into a regular schedule, and that you aren’t constantly opening the door to let puppy outside to do their business. Instead, with puppy potty training, you get the opportunity to teach them how to best manage their urinary functions.  

Puppy Potty Training Tips 

Here are some best practices for potty training your puppy: 

*Create a schedule. Dogs do best when they’re on a schedule. While you don’t necessarily have to create a strict routine, a general schedule is always a good idea to create when it comes to training your pup. For puppies that are between eight and 16 weeks old, establishing a routine is necessary, but as your pup gets older, navigating to a daily schedule is more important. 

*Take them out in the morning and evening. You’ll want to establish general timeframes for when your puppy can go outside to relieve themselves. Taking your pupper out in the morning and out in the evening will help to establish this with them. Your dog will learn to wait to bother you until the sun comes up and when it goes down. You could always take them out before you go to work and after you come home. However, this might condition your pup to expect you to leave, so if you’re on vacation or on an alternative work schedule, it might throw a wrench in your potty training plans.  

*Adhere to a feeding schedule. Rather than letting your puppy free feed, which can make them need to go outside multiple times throughout the day, take their food away and feed them every 12 hours. Feeding them at a set time every day can help to control their needs to relieve themselves, but also ensures that they don’t over or under eat, especially during those first few crucial months.  

*Reward them for going outside. To encourage your pup to relieve themselves outdoors rather than inside your home, consider positive reinforcement techniques! Simply give them a small treat when you take them outside and they relieve themselves out there. This will encourage them to only use the bathroom when they’re outdoors rather than when they’re inside.  

*Keep your dog in a confined space for now. A new home can be very overwhelming, especially for a puppy. They’re still learning a lot, and a new environment can cause their senses to go into overdrive. When you first bring your new puppy home, introduce them to one room at a time, starting somewhere that’s close to an outside door. This way, when you need to take them outside, you don’t have to take them through other rooms or spaces they haven’t had a chance to explore yet. As your pupper gets more comfortable and successful at using the bathroom outdoors, you can start to introduce other rooms and spaces to them. This will prevent any accidents from occurring due to the overwhelming nature of their exposure. Consider putting a Tile dog tag on their collar in the event they get out and meander around your home. A stuck puppy is an unsafe puppy!  

*Stay with them while they’re outside. You should never leave your puppy to themselves, especially while outdoors. There are many ways your puppy could get hurt or lost outdoors. A young pup needs constant supervision, so it’s important that you be outside whenever they are. Encourage them to explore their surroundings, but be there to assist them and prevent them from getting hurt. Your pup needs to know how to spend time outside, but they should do so in a controlled way early on.  

*Take them to the same spots. A puppy needs familiarity, especially if they’re younger than 16 weeks. A young puppy that’s being potty trained should be taken to the same spots whenever you take them outside. This is because those spots will smell familiar. Dogs like to mark their territory in a process called urine marking. This process can happen for a variety of reasons, but it’s typically to signal to others that a specific space is theirs. It can start as early as three months, and for puppies learning to potty train, that’s a pretty important piece to watch out for. As your puppy grows and starts to mark its territory, it’s important to continue taking them back to the same spots because it will prevent them from urine marking in places they shouldn’t be (like your precious rose bushes that you worked so hard for.  

*Use a crate: Under your supervision, consider integrating crating as part of their training. This can teach them to hold it in until you open the crate. Of course, some puppies are too young to be in the crate, or you may have gotten a crate that’s actually too big for them. In this case, you might need to go a different route and return to crate training at a later date. 

*Watch for signs. There are a few ways to tell if your puppy needs to relieve themselves. Circling, whining, pawing at the outside door or even sniffing can all indicate that your puppy needs to go. Take them outside immediately to prevent an accident! 

* Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re a first time dog owner and are getting stuck with potty training, then it’s important that you can take the opportunity to ask for help. Failing to do so could result in your puppy missing their chance to learn how to go to the toilet outside, and this will make it more difficult for you to teach them in the future. As the famous saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”. Fortunately it’s easy to find a dog trainer that can help, so reach out to a local expert to help teach your pup to potty outside successfully! 

* Be patient. It’s important to recognize that it’s going to take time for your pup to learn not to go to the toilet indoors. You must be patient with your dog, never using harsh methods that might instill fear – focus on positivity and encouragement, as this is always the most effective pathway to follow. It’s going to take several weeks (or maybe even months) to get your puppy into the rhythm of going to the toilet outside, so always be as patient as you can to keep them on track.

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