While having a new dog can be great and fun, it can also be difficult to get him used to his new surroundings. This includes potty training him.
Before you start potty training your dog, you should understand that it is a task that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. You want to teach your dog good habits, while building a loving bond with him.
You should expect it to take between four and six months to train your dog. For some dogs, it can take up to a year. If your dog had a previous owner who did not teach him good habits, it can make potty training difficult. Breaking bad habits and teaching good ones can take time. If you have a small breed dog, he will need to go out more often, due to his small bladder. Large breed dogs can hold it longer.
You should also expect setbacks from time to time, but you cannot get discouraged.
When to Start Potty Training Your Dog
The best time to start house training your dog is when he is between 12 and 16 weeks old. This is the age where he can control his bladder and bowel movements enough where he can hold it until it is time to go outside.
If you get your puppy when he is older than 12 weeks old, and he has spend most of his time in a cage, training him may be more difficult. Dogs who urinate and move their bowels in a cage take longer to train because you will need to reshape their behavior. It will be more difficult, but it is possible.
Steps for Potty Training Your Dog
When you first start training your dog, it is a good idea to keep him confined to one room. As he starts to learn that he can only do his business outside, you can give him more freedom, and let him roam wherever he wants in the house.
To train your dog, you should follow these steps:
- Feed your dog three meals a day, and put his food dish up on the counter between meals.
- You should take your dog outside first thing in the morning, after each meal, when he wakes up from a nap, before he goes to bed, and before you are going to be leaving him alone. You should also take him out every 30 minutes to a half hour. It may sound like a lot, but over time, you won’t need to take him out so often.
- When you take your puppy out, take him to the same spot to do his business each time. The scent from going there before will prompt him to go again.
- You should stay outside while your dog is doing his business. If you have a fenced in yard, you can start letting him go outside alone after he is trained. You never want to allow your dog to go outside alone if you don’t have a fence to keep him enclosed in the yard.
- When your puppy goes to the bathroom outside, praise him and give him a reward. A good reward is a dog treat. If you have the time, your dog might also enjoy a walk around the block.
Using a Crate to Potty Train Your Dog
Some people find a crate to be very helpful when potty training a dog. This should only be a short term solution. A crate lets you keep and eye on the dog for signs that he needs to go. It will also teach him to hold it until you open the crate and let him outside.
To crate train your dog, you should follow these steps:
- You want to make sure that you choose the right size crate for your dog. It is should be large enough so that he can stand, turn around, and lie down. It should not be so big that he can use the corner as his bathroom.
- If your puppy is going to be in the crate for more than two hours, you should give him a supply of fresh water. It is best to use a water bottle that attaches to the crate. If you put a bowl in the crate, the dog can knock it over and he won’t have any more water until you get home.
- If you aren’t going to be home to take your dog out while he is potty training, you should have someone there to take him out in the middle of the day for the first eight months. If not, your dog will develop bad habits.
- If your dog is going to the bathroom in the crate, you should stop using it. He may have learned bad crate habits at the pet store or shelter before he came to you. The crate may be too big for him or he may still be too young to hold it in.
Signs That Your Dog Needs to Go Out
Your dog will let you know when he needs to go out. If he starts whining, sniffing, circling, growling, or barking, he may need to go outside. Also, if he starts scratching at the door, you should let him out right away.
Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training
- You should never punish or slap your dog for having an accident. This will only teach him to fear you. It won’t help with his training.
- If you catch him in the act, clap loudly and yell so he knows he is doing something wrong, and immediately take him outside.
Dogs cannot connect your anger with their accident, therefore, you should never yell if you found the evidence but didn’t catch him in the act. Just keep an eye on him in the future.