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How to Potty Train a Puppy


Many new dog owners are nervous and unsure about potty training their puppy. When you first start out, it appears to be an impossible task. But as with many aspects of puppy training and life in general, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps makes even the most complex challenges, manageable. With a little planning, patience, and observation, you can teach your puppy where they should be conducting their business when nature calls, while also developing a healthy sense of boundaries within the house. Potty training does not rely on your puppy being "good," but rather on you being consistent with time management, and positive reinforcement when the desired behavior is seen. 


Get a Crate

Keeping your puppy in their own space can be a huge help in potty training and general training. Because a dog does not normally want to soil an area where they spend time living and sleeping, a crate will help your puppy learn to "hold it." It provides them with a controlled environment in which they can be unsupervised (as opposed to sneaking into a corner of your house for a pee or poop that you will discover too late). 

There are two keys to ensuring that your dog treats the crate as a living space:

  • Check that the crate is the correct size. Crates should be large enough for your dog to comfortably sit, lie down, and turn around, but not large enough for them to dedicate a corner to their extracurricular activities. Small puppies who will quickly grow into larger puppies benefit from a size-adjustable crate with a divider. 

  • Allow your puppy to spend enough time in the crate that they consider it their home. Your dog should associate the crate with good things, such as safety and contentment. As a result, going into the crate should not be regarded as punishment.

Create a Schedule

When it comes to potty training, consistency is everything. Developing a consistent daily routine will assist your dog in physically mastering house training, as well as in feeling secure and building trust between dog and human. 

Create a schedule that includes the following items to help with consistency: 

  • Feeding schedules (at the same time each day) 

  • Toilet breaks 

  • Time in a crate or confinement 

  • Time to have fun 

  • Sleeping time 

Make sure that everyone in your family is aware of, and follows, the schedule. Print it and post it somewhere everyone can see it, such as the refrigerator (or send it to everyone's phones). You can also keep a journal to record accidents and progress in potty breaks. 

Puppies do not have complete bladder control until they are about five months old. If you have a new puppy or are just starting to train one, start by taking them out every 45 minutes during the day. Make sure to keep an eye on your puppy and make changes as they grow. The time between potty breaks can increase over time. You can use the one-hour-per-month guide to determine how long your puppy should be able to hold it as you progress. As a result, a three-month-old puppy should be able to keep it for three hours. Start slowly and gradually increase the time—don't expect them to finish in three hours. 

Take it Slow...

Once you've established a schedule and a crate, you'll have a solid foundation for effective potty training. Taking your dog out to potty is, of course, an important part of this schedule. Here are some things to remember about potty training: 

When you get home for the first time, take your dog to a designated potty spot outside. Make an association between this location and going to the bathroom. 

It is best to begin with your dog on a leash. Puppies are easily distracted, and they may wander off and decide to roll in the grass instead of doing their business. You want to keep their attention during potty time. This is true even for those who have a backyard. If your dog goes potty at will, you won't be able to reward them at the time they pee or poop, making it more difficult for them to understand that this is a desired behaviour (also, it can make for a messy backyard). 

On a daily basis, give them 10-15 minutes to sniff and hopefully go. To keep them focused on the task at hand, keep the excitement and talking to a minimum. Bring them back in and confine them in their crate if they don't go. 

Install a verbal cue: Encourage your puppy to go potty by using a word or phrase that you will use to communicate the behaviour from now on, such as "go potty" or "do your business." Choose a phrase that you are unlikely to use in other contexts. "Install" that word or phrase the moment your dog goes, so your dog associates it with the desired action. The key is in the timing. If you simply repeat the words when they aren't moving, they won't make the connection about what the word means. So make sure they've just begun to go, or, with practice, when they're just about to go (once you've learned to read their signals that they're about to pee or poop). Only say the word once. 

When your dog goes, reward them with a high-value treat to show them that this is exactly what you wanted them to do. Make this treat something special, especially in the beginning. Make sure to reward them only once, right after they finish peeing or pooping, and don't keep giving the treat throughout the walk. People often underestimate the importance of rewarding when they go outside. 

 Be consistent

Make every effort to stick to your schedule and avoid missing out on trips. Every puppy will have an accident, but it's critical that it doesn't become a habit. Overcompensate when in doubt. As long as we overcompensate, get the dog out, and manage our time well, the dog has a reason to hold it and then picks up on the pattern.

Handle accidents gracefully.

Keeping on schedule and observing your dog will help prevent accidents, but accidents will occur. It also matters how you handle accidents. If you catch your puppy pooping or peeing inside, clap or say "NO" sternly but without screaming. 

However, if you discover a soiled spot inside the house after the fact, clean it up immediately. Getting angry or punishing your puppy will only frighten them, and they won't understand why you're upset (do not rub your dog's nose in their poop). Make the most of your mistakes as learning opportunities. Did your dog go an hour after a walk without peeing? Take them out at the 50-minute mark the next time. To completely remove the odor, clean the soiled area with an effective, non-toxic, enzymatic cleaner. Otherwise, they'll most likely return to the same location for another round. It should be noted that some dogs may poop or pee inside the house as a result of fear or trauma. If you suspect something like this is going on with your dog, it's a good idea to seek the assistance of a dog trainer or behaviorist. 

Paper training and puppy pads 

While some dog owners use pee pads and paper out of convenience or because they believe their pups can't go outside while they're getting their shots, many trainers advise against doing so. Simply put, pee pads teach your dog to eliminate outside of the house. Many dog owners begin using pads with the intention of using them as a first step in potty training and eventually teaching their dogs to go outside. This almost never works. Most of the time, it simply prolongs and complicates potty training. They come at an extra cost, it's unsanitary to have pee and poop in your house, and many dogs enjoy chewing on them. If you or your dog has mobility issues and finding it difficult to go outside, pee pads are an option. However, if you are able to take your dog outside, do so—it is best for potty training and also provides important mental stimulation and socialisation opportunities. Potty training your puppy takes time and patience, but the lessons they'll learn and the bond you'll form with them will transfer to many other aspects of their life! 


How can I prevent my puppy from urinating inside the house?

Again, the simplest solution is to deny them the opportunity to enter! Being a time manager and taking responsibility for getting your dog outside as often as possible, rather than focusing on punishing them when they (inevitably) do go inside, is one of the most important aspects of potty training. The other important factor is confinement. As previously discussed, keeping your dog in a crate or confined area of the house will help keep them from sneaking off and doing their business inside. The more they are able to go potty indoors, the more difficult it will be for them to learn that they should only go outside. Maintaining a schedule is also essential. 

When should I start potty training a puppy? 

You can begin potty training a puppy around 8 weeks old (ideally, they should be with their mother for at least 8 weeks, if not longer). Potty training should ideally begin between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks. Young puppies have small bowels and bladders, and they do not have complete bladder control until they are about 5 months old. You can start potty training an older puppy or dog right away, but it may take longer for the lessons to stick if they've had a lot of time to develop bad habits. 

How long does it take to potty train a puppy? 

Many factors influence how long it takes to fully potty train your puppy, including how well you stick to your schedule! It could take several weeks or several months, depending on you, your dog's breed, age, and personality, as well as your situation. It's not an easy process, but if you have patience and perseverance, your dog WILL learn. Remember that you will most likely face some setbacks, but they will usually be minor hiccups. If you're really stuck, reach out to a trainer, who may be able to help you figure out persistent potty issues.

Aditya Lochan

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James Ullagaddi

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