By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP
Puppy Potting Training: Management And Prevention
Puppies are gonna go when they need to go and it’s your job to prevent it from happening on the living room floor. It can take a few weeks before your puppy understands to only potty outside. To make this transition easier, manage their available space through crate training.
Crate training requires giving your dog a comfy space all to themselves. Place their crate in an area floored with tile or linoleum- something that can be easily cleaned. Dogs view their crates as comfy caves, and are far less likely to spoil their personal space.
Puppies still need frequent potty breaks and will have accidents if they’re not given those breaks. Check your puppy often for signs that they may need a break, like:
- Drinking a lot of water
- Acting strange during play
- Starting to whine or yelp
- Scratching against the door
If you think your dog may need to go, play it safe and let them out. After dinner, or any long session of play or training, it’s almost guaranteed that your pup needs a potty break.
After successfully using the bathroom, praise your puppy or give them some treats. You’re teaching them that going outside is fun and exciting, while pottying indoors earns them nothing. This is the basic foundation of positive reinforcement housetraining.
Just like a newborn, your puppy will cost you a little sleep. They’ll need bathroom breaks early in the morning, and may cry or whine during the night to be let out. Luckily, if you’re doing consistent and quality housetraining with them, this sleepless period will only last a few months.
Most puppies are fairly accident prone during the first two months of potty training. Fortunately, if you’re crate training your dog, they’ll learn to hold their bladder faster than a free-roaming pup. If you’re puppy is still having problems at four months old, you may need a professional trainer.
If your pup is still having problems holding it, check their diet. Low quality foods can both upset your dog’s stomach and act as a diuretic. Make sure their food doesn’t contain harmful ingredients like:
These can cause gastrointestinal problems and are generally unhealthy for your dog. Instead, find a high quality puppy food to feed them. Hopefully, their potty problem will go away on it’s own. If not, you may need to take them to the vet to determine the true cause.
What To Do If Your Puppy Has An Accident
If your puppy has an accident in the house, do NOT punish or use corrections on them. Many people may balk at this, but trust us- all you will be teaching your pup is that you’re scary and unpredictable. Dogs can’t connect the punishment to the crime. Similarly, if you catch your puppy in the act, don’t be hostile. Instead, calmly say “uh-oh!” then direct them outside.
While this may seem like a minor offence at first, punishing your pup for pottying can have serious ramifications. One of the most common issues we see as a result from this is a dog who won’t pee in front of people at all, even while outside. They may also start to potty in rooms you don’t frequent, since they associate you with punishment and fear being caught.
This leads people to imagine that their dogs feel “guilty” for going inside. However, your dog has no clue what guilt is. A dog’s world is simpler than ours, they are influenced by positive and negative stimuli. They also can’t remember two minutes ago, so there’s little room for guilt.
We always tell owners that puppies don’t have accidents on purpose. They’re not guilty or vengeful… they just gotta go! Dogs aren’t like cats, they’re not terribly selective about where they relieve themselves. It’s up to us to show them what’s appropriate.
For cleanups, we recommend using high quality products like Nature’s Miracle. They use bacteria-eliminating enzymes to permanently destroy smells. Regular cleaners like bleach will cover odors and disinfect the area, but dogs can still detect it. Just remember that if they pee on the carpet, treat twice the size of the stain, because the stain on the pad underneath the carpet is much larger than what you see on top.
If your puppy is having a real problem with housetraining, try tethering them to you or something nearby. When they need to go, they’ll let you know. You can also set a timer on your phone to remind you to check the puppy and see if they need to go outside.
Puppies should also never be left alone or unsupervised. We’ve met people that expected their puppy to be fine on their own, only to come home to a stinky accident on the carpet. If you can’t stay home, board them at a kennel or keep them in a puppy-proofed room. You wouldn’t leave a toddler alone at home with no diaper right? Well, puppies are a lot like toddlers.
Running to Potty by David J
Good Boy by angela n.