The Ultimate Guide To Puppy Potty Training and House Training Your Dog

Guide To Puppy Potty Training And House Training Your Dog

House training your new puppy is one of the very first things that you'll probably want to teach your new dog. For many new puppy owners this can be a very challenging time, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to create the first loving bond with your new furry friend.

This is because you're teaching your new puppy the boundaries of their home, and making them understand first steps in what is acceptable behavior.

In this complete guide, we're going to go over what to expect when teaching your new pet house training, and the do's and don'ts of puppy potty training. If you follow this ultimate guide closely, you can expect the time it usually takes to successfully train your dog not to eliminate in the house, to be minimized dramatically.

Introduction To Potty Training

House training your puppy is all about three main elements: consistency, patience and positive reinforcement. The ultimate goal of house training your puppy is to teach them good habits and building a loving, strong bond with your dog.

​It can take some time for a puppy to be fully house trained. Sometimes it can take up to 6 months for a dog to be fully potty trained and be taught not to eliminate in the house. Even other cases, it can even take up to a year. 

The size of your dog's breed can be a predictor on how long it'll typically take for your dog to be fully house trained. This is because smaller dogs have a much smaller bladder than a bigger dog and tend to have a higher metabolism, meaning that they'll have to go to the toilet much more frequently than larger dogs.

Until your puppy develops proper bladder control, you'll need to be aware that your puppy may need to go to the toilet more often when it's younger, as opposed to when it's older and more aware of their need to go eliminate.

If your puppy is a rescue and hasn't been taught proper house training, then you may need to teach them other habits, and break the old cycles to teach them more desirable ones.

Unfortunately, the older that your new puppy may be, the harder it'll be to successfully potty train them.

But don't worry if there are setbacks. As long as you remain consistent with your training, and take your dog outside at the first sign it needs to go, and then reinforce that positive behavior with praise and treats, he'll learn quickly enough.

When To Begin House Training Your New Puppy

The ideal time to commence house training your puppy​ is usually between 12 - 16 weeks of age. At this time, your puppy has matured just enough to have control over their bowel movements and bladder that they can learn to hold it.

If your puppy is older than 12 weeks, and they're eliminating in the house and/or their crate, then you'll have to be extra patient as reshaping their behavior will take time. However, if you're consistent and reinforce positive behavior with treats and praise, the time taught to successfully potty train your new puppy will be drastically diminished.

The First Steps To Successfully House Train Your Puppy

​The most recommended way to build the fundamentals of successfully potty training your puppy is to start confining them to a defined space. This could be their crate, a laundry, or a cordoned off section of a room.

As your puppy begins to understand that that need to go outside to go to the bathroom, you can gradually give them more freedom and time to roam about the house. If you're concerned about your puppy chewing your furniture and belongings when they're roaming, then you'll need to follow the guidelines in this article. 

When you're ready to being house training your puppy, follow these steps:

  • Keeping your puppy on a regular feeding schedule is vitally important. Take away their food between meals. This is because if they're consistently eating throughout the day, then there will be more frequent times when the puppy will want to go to the bathroom, and it'll be harder for you to manage and maintain a schedule.
  • Take your puppy outside to eliminate first thing in the morning when they wake up, and then once every 30 - 60 minutes. Always take your puppy outside when they have finished their meal, and when they wake up from a nap. Another key time is when you're about to go to bed and settle in to sleep. Also take your puppy outside before they're going to be left alone. If necessary, set a timer on your phone or watch to keep up a regular schedule.
  • Take your puppy to the same spot to eliminate every time you take them outside. Your puppy's scent will prompt them to go to to the toilet.
  • Make sure you stay with your puppy until they've done their business. When they do finally go to the toilet and eliminate, say a command like "Go Potty!" and then shower them with praise when they go. Soon, your puppy will associate that command with going to the toilet. Also, a nice walk around the neighbourhood is a good reward for your puppy.

Utilizing A Crate/Confinement To Help Successfully Potty Train Your Dog

A crate can be a fantastic tool to help potty train your puppy, and is great for the short term. It can be used to keep a watchful eye on your puppy for signs when they need to go, and teach them to hold it until you open the crate and let them outside.

You can't be with your puppy every second of the day​, and your puppy also requires at least 16 hours of rest time during the day.

When you and your puppy need a break from each other, a crate is a fantastic way to send your puppy to bed to stop otherwise any roaming accidents that could happen in your house.

For puppies that like to chew a lot of things such as power cords, furniture and other belongings, this is a great safety precaution to keep them and your belongings safe for when you can't watch them.​

If you travel frequently with your dog, or they need confinement when guests arrive and at night time, you could also consider investing in a large transport crate for your dog - where they can happily "den" into. This is a great way for your dog to feel safe, cosy and is also big enough so your dog can turn around in.

Another way to confine your dog to a certain areas to minimize roaming accidents, is to cordon off sections of the house with baby gates across a doorway, or pet playpens.

An additional benefit of this, is that in a smaller, confined area, your dog will learn to hold on to avoid going to the toilet in their cosy den or select another area of the confinement area to eliminate and go to the toilet, if you choose it to be big enough.

successfully crate training and house training your puppy

Dogs never like to eliminate in their den, and will always attempt to eliminate outside, or away from their denning area.

As soon as you let your dog out from their confined area or crate, take them to your desired toileting area, and try not to keep your puppy confined to their special area for long periods of time.​

Follow these guidelines if you would like to use a crate to house train your puppy:

  • Make sure you buy a correctly sized crate for your puppy. Make sure it is big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. But also make sure it is not too big so that your puppy can go into the corner and eliminate there. Often some people make the mistake of buying a large crate for their puppy to grow into when they're older. Buying a smaller crate and upgrading the size of it as your puppy grows, is the best way to potty train your puppy with a crate.
  • If your puppy is being crated for more than two hours at a time, please ensure that your puppy has enough water in a water bowl to keep them hydrated. (A water dispenser that attaches to the crate is a good idea.) Also ensure that your puppy has durable chew toys in the crate for when they get bored. If after a period of time your puppy gets restless, then take them outside to eliminate and then reward them with some one-on-one playtime.
  • If you're at work during the day within the house training period, please ensure that there is somebody there that can let your puppy out to do their business and give them a break during the day. It is ideal to do this for the first 8 months during their training.
  • If your puppy is continually eliminating inside the crate, this could be due to a number of reasons: they may have brought bad habits from the puppy shelter or pet store where you got them from; he may not be getting outside enough during the day; the crate is too big for your puppy; or he still may be too young to hold it in. If you have eliminated all these possible causes and your puppy is still pooping inside the crate, then stop the crate training, and confine your puppy to a different area like I mentioned above.

Thoughts On Puppy Pads And Using Them In Your Training

A lot of new dog owners like to utilize a puppy training pad to put on the floor or newspaper to teach their puppy to go to the bathroom in the correct place of the house.

Once your have taught them to go there, you can move the puppy pad closer and closer to the door. While this is generally good practice, bear in mind that once you've taught your puppy go to on the puppy training pad, you'll have to teach them again and relearn everything to go to the bathroom outside.

It is a far simpler and cheaper method just to teach them the desired behavior the first time round, and teach them to go outside - rather than teach them two separate things.

However, there are a few advantages to use these absorbent pads in your potty training: they make clean-ups easier. While you puppy is being crated, in his den, playpen or the laundry you can put the puppy pad down to absorb any mess that may occur.

It is up to you how you would like to go about the training, but I personally recommend teaching your puppy to go outside from the start. This will stop any confusion in your puppy, and also stop the requirement to retrain them from going to the toilet on the puppy pad and then further teaching them to go outside in the future.

How To Know When Your Puppy Needs To Eliminate

If you notice that your puppy is whining, sniffing, barking or scratching at the door of their confined space - then these are all signs that your puppy needs to go to the bathroom. If this is the case, take your puppy outside immediately. 

If your puppy does not eliminate when you take them outside, then this could be another sign that your puppy is seeking attention from you. If this is a common occurrence, then check out the article here. 

Setbacks Of House Training Your Puppy And How To Deal With Them

Accidents are common in house training a puppy. This could be for a number of reasons, and range from a change in the puppy's environment such as moving house, to incomplete house training on your part.

When your puppy does have an accident, please don't scold them or rub their nose in it! This doesn't teach your puppy anything, and if anything else, it'll heighten the anxiety of your beloved pet and can cause excitement and submission urination - which will make your house training efforts 100% more difficult to accomplish.​

positive reinforcement makes for a happy potty trained dog

Even if there are setbacks, continually train your dog with positive reinforcement and praise when they do the correct thing. Like I've said many times before - dogs THRIVE​ off positive reinforcement, and do not respond well to being reprimanded or yelled at. 

Please do not yell - or even worse - hit your puppy if they defecate on your carpet. This will only confuse them and heighten their anxiety even further.

If all your efforts in attempts to potty train your dog fail, then consult a veterinarian immediately, as there could be a potential medical problem that you cannot alleviate without proper medical advice. The cause could be a number of problems, ranging from poor diet, to bladder and bowel infections to name a few. Always consult medical advice from a professional if you believe your puppy is in need of medical help.

The Do's And Don't Of Potty Training Your Puppy

​As a general guide, always keep the following points in mind when house training your puppy:

  1. If you punish your puppy for having an accident in the house is an absolute no-no. This will only heighten the anxiety in your puppy and cause them to fear you.
  2. If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly rather than yell at them so they know they've done something unacceptable. Then quickly take them outside by calling them over, or by gently pulling their collar. When they've successfully finished their business outside - shower them with praise and give them treats so that they know this is the proper behavior to be accepted of them.
  3. If you discover a poop on your carpet, or in the house - but didn't catch them in the act - DO NOT yell and scream at them, or rub their nose in it! Dogs aren't intellectually capable of associating undesirable behavior with aggression - it'll only cause them harm and confuse them. This won't teach them anything!
  4. Stay outside longer with your puppy when you think they need to go. This will help curb accidents in the house, and they may need some extra time to explore the area and find a suitable place to go.
  5. If you dog does do an accident in the house, clean the mess up with an enzymatic cleanser, rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that may attract your puppy to the same area, and eliminate there repeatedly.

Extra Tips On Successfully House Training Your Puppy

  • ​Set an alarm clock on your watch or phone: During the early stages of teaching your puppy potty training, set an alarm every 1 - 2 hours. If there are frequent accidents occurring, then step up the frequency of the alarm and taking them outside. Repetition is the key to success.
  • Use a lead, or a tether: One of the best ways to make sure you know when your puppy is ready to go the bathroom, is attach a lead or tether to your desk or chair if you're working from home. If your puppy is roaming freely throughout your house, then there is a higher chance that an accident will occur because you're not keeping a watchful eye on your dog.
  • Introduce a command: When your puppy successfully eliminates or wees outside, associate a command, whistle or hand gesture (or a combination of these things) so that his positive behavior is associated with a command. After a number repetitions, your puppy will begin to associate them going to the toilet with the command. Soon enough, your puppy will be able to go to the toilet when your use the command. This fantastic for long road trips and cold wintry nights, because your dog will basically go potty on command.
  • Finding that one spot in the yard for toilet training: Repeatedly take your dog to one spot in the yard where they will do their business. Not only will your dog want to go because of the spot's scent, but this will make poo patrol much easier for yourself and your family, and will stop any more brown patches of grass from emerging in other parts of the yard.
  • Always reward your puppy: Toilet training is one of the most important parts of a long term relationship with your puppy. It is one of the very first things you teach them, so you want to go all out, and use really tasty treats and lots of praise. Make sure you go over the top with your rewards. Obviously, don't over feed your puppy with treats, but you want to reward them a few seconds after they have finished their business. This way, they will know what they are getting the praise and treats for, and the more motivated your puppy is to get those rewards and praise, the higher frequency your dog will want to do something right and receive them - making the whole process 10 x easier.

Further Reading On House Training Your Puppy:

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