How To Potty Train a Puppy
There is no doubt that bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone involved. Little pups are adorable bundles of energy that are more than ready to be a fun-loving addition to any family. However, there are a lot of new experiences and skills puppies need to learn before they can fully settle into their new life. One of the most important of these lessons is housetraining.
Potty training your pup takes time, but with some patience, care, and consistency it will be well worth the effort. Use the following tips on how to housetrain a puppy to help your canine companion get accustomed to their exciting new home.
Accidents happen, so you will want to have a few items on hand before your new puppy arrives to ensure that when those tough moments do occur, you’re prepared to handle them. Pee pads, a cozy sleeping area like a crate or adjustable pen, and odor-fighting cleaners will all help make housetraining a puppy less stressful. Don’t forget to also have some tasty treats on hand to reward your puppy for good behavior.
Remember to Praise Your Puppy
Dogs love positive feedback whether it be through treats, praise, or lots of hugs and kisses. Since rewards like these make them more likely to repeat a specific behavior, positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools you can use when housetraining a puppy.
When your best friend successfully goes to the bathroom outside, make sure to reward that behavior with positive adoration and praise. In doing so, you help your puppy understand that a successful bathroom trip is something they should repeat.
In contrast, avoid punishing your puppy if they have an accident inside. Instead, prevention is your best course of action. If you see your dog showing signs that they’re about to go to the bathroom inside, quickly help them outside and let them finish their business there. Give them praise and accolades when they are done so they can start to understand that outside opposed to inside is the right place to go.
Establish a Daily Routine
Dogs learn best through repetition and consistency, so choose a schedule for your puppy and stick to it! Even if it means you need to ask a friend to stop in while you’re away at work or you work from home until they’re grown, keeping a consistent schedule from day one is an important factor that will undoubtedly impact how long it takes to housetrain your dog.
If you aren’t sure what type of housetraining schedule to follow, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends the following times of day as routine signals that your puppy needs to head outside:
- When you or your puppy wake up
- Whenever your puppy eats
- After playtime
- After naps
- When you leave the house
- Before bed
Determine a Regular Feeding Schedule
Puppies have different dietary needs than adult dogs, so you will want to keep your puppy on a regular feeding schedule of about three to four times per day, depending on their size and age. Keep in mind that no matter how fast your pup gobbles up their yummy Bil-Jac Puppy Formula, you still want to always read the label and only provide amounts according to age, breed, and size.
When you stick to an established feeding schedule, your puppy will have a more predictable potty training timetable. This process can help avoid accidents and make it easier to remember when it is time to head outside.
Let Your Pup Outside Frequently
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when housetraining your dog is that puppies can only hold their bladders about an hour for each month of age plus one additional hour. That means that a 5-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for about six hours before they need to head outside. It should also be noted that this general idea only applies to puppies that are at least 4 months old. Furry friends that are less than 4 months old aren’t able to control their bladder at all.
During your dog’s puppy years, try to let them outside every two hours in addition to the AKC’s recommended schedule. To make the habit as consistent as possible, you may want to bring your pup to the same spot in the yard each time and use the same phrase like “go potty” to help reinforce the routine.
Lastly, don’t forget to praise your puppy with a treat when they are done. Positive reinforcement through encouraging praise and their favorite treats are the best ways to let your pup know they did something right!
Watch For Behavioral Signs
It is easy to tell when your puppy is distressed. Whimpering, scratching, fidgeting, and barking are all indicators that your four-legged friend may be uncomfortable. What is not as easy, though, is remembering to act on these signals before an accident happens. In the initial stages of puppy potty training, it is better to play it safe and get in the habit of taking your pup out at every sign of distress. Some signals you will want to look for include:
- Hunching the back
- Scratching at the ground
As you get to know your puppy and their unique personality, you will quickly learn what signs mean “time to go out” and what signs are indicators of something else.
Watch Their Water Bowl
Hydration is always important, but sometimes drinking water too close to bedtime can keep your puppy up at night. Instead, try removing your dog’s water dish about two hours before their bedtime. That way, your puppy will be able to sleep for around seven hours before they have to head outside.
Just like any animal, there may be times that your pup wakes up in the middle of the night because they have to go to the bathroom. Although this isn’t exactly enjoyable, it is actually a sign that your housetraining efforts are working! When your pup wakes you up to use the bathroom, it means they understand that they shouldn’t go inside the house.
When moments like this happen, take them outside to their spot and praise them, but try to not rile them up too much. You don’t want to confuse them into thinking these late-night potty breaks are playtime.
Patience and Practice
Having patience and establishing a daily routine during your dog’s early years helps build a solid foundation for them to grow. When you implement these simple tips for housetraining a puppy, your whole household, four-legged friends included, will all be off to a strong start!
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