Although adorable, playful, and often very sweet, puppies can be a handful. Just like a human child, your puppy will depend on you to teach him everything he needs to know about the world and how to behave in it. One of the first things you will need to learn is how to potty train a puppy. Too many people think that they can teach a puppy not to go to the bathroom in the house if they swat him with a newspaper, rub his noise in his mistake, or shout at him. These old-fashioned training methods won’t effectively train your puppy; in fact, they may make him fearful of you. With kindness, consistency, and patience, you can let your puppy know the proper place to relieve himself. To get started, check out our tips below to learn how to potty train a puppy.
How to Potty Train a Puppy
Take your puppy outside often.
You shouldn’t expect a young puppy to “hold it” for hours and hours at a time; a puppy’s bladder is too small for that. Instead, take him outside to the same spot every one to two hours. This ensures that your puppy has plenty of opportunities to use the bathroom in the proper place. In addition, take your puppy out as soon as he wakes up and immediately after he eats or drinks. You will also need to take your puppy out during the night, so get ready for some late-night bathroom breaks!
Give your puppy a reward after each successful potty break.
As soon as your puppy has successfully completed his business outside, reward him. Offer words of praise, a small treat, and plenty of petting and cuddling. You could also treat your puppy to some playtime with his favorite toy. If you reward your puppy every time he goes to the bathroom outside, he will eventually learn that this is a great way to please you and earn a reward.
Try crate training.
No dog should spend his entire day in a crate, but crate training can be extremely valuable when you’re potty training your puppy. Choose a well-sized crate that allows your puppy to lie down, turn around, and stand comfortably. Some crates have dividers, so that you can adjust the size as your dog grows. Your puppy won’t want to soil his small space, and he likely won’t unless he simply can’t hold it. For this reason, you shouldn’t leave your puppy in his crate for an extended period of time in the first few weeks. After an hour or two, take him outside as soon as you let him out of his crate.
Teach your puppy to alert you when he needs to go out.
You’ll know that your puppy needs to go outside to potty when you see him squatting, sniffing the carpet, walking in circles, or whining or barking at the door. Using these clues, you can take your puppy outside before he relieves himself in the house. As your puppy gets a little older, consider teaching him to let you know when he needs to go out. For example, many dog owners successfully teach their dogs to ring a bell when they need to go potty. This gives your dog a way to communicate with you, and you will be able to hear the signal from other rooms in your house.
Take appropriate action when you catch your puppy in the act.
Accidents are a part of life. Especially at the beginning, you may sometimes catch your puppy in the act. When you do, clap your hands loudly. This should startle the puppy, causing him to stop what he is doing. If your puppy stops, pick him up immediately and take him outside so he can finish. If he doesn’t, simply clean up the mess. Speaking of which . . .
The cleaning process is extremely important.
When you’re learning how to potty train a puppy, don’t underestimate the importance of the cleaning process. Your dog has some 300 million olfactory receptors in his nose, and that means he can smell things that you can’t. If your dog can smell the spot in your home where he had his accident, then he may return to that spot to use the bathroom again. Use cleaning products manufactured specially for dog messes, so that they effectively clean and deodorize the area.
Don’t punish your puppy for using the bathroom in the house.
Whether you find an old accident or catch your puppy in the act, don’t punish him for eliminating in the house. Your puppy won’t connect the punishment with the crime, especially if it’s been a while since he committed the act. Punishing him may make him scared of you. It could also make him afraid to use the bathroom in your presence, so he may begin relieving himself in hidden places indoors if given the chance. Suffice it to say, punishment is not an effective way to train your puppy. Focus on positive reinforcement, be more vigilant, and take your puppy outside more often.
Supervise your puppy.
Finally, don’t allow your puppy to roam around the house freely until you can trust him to use the bathroom outdoors. Supervise him at all times, perhaps keeping him in a training pen or tethering him to your waist with a leash. This reduces the likelihood that he’ll have an accident in the house without you noticing. As your puppy learns, you can give him more freedom to explore.
Now that you’ve learned how to potty train a puppy, are you ready to get started? If you live in Missouri, head to Petsway, a family-owned pet store, to pick up all the dog supplies you will need. For example, you might want to pick up a collar and leash, a crate for crate training, cleaning products for when accidents occur, and treats and toys to reward your puppy for good behavior. And as your puppy grows into a dog, the knowledgeable associates at PetsWay can help you with grooming, training, and much more. With locations in Springfield, Nixa, St. Louis, St. Peters, and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, we’re sure to have a store near you.