Potty training your new puppy can be frustrating. Over the past 15 years we’ve developed a potty training program that can be used to potty train any breed of puppy and at any age. The younger you start, the faster the results.
There are 4 main components of the program:
- Monitor your puppy closely,
- Potty Routine,
- Accidents, and
- Schedule with a food and water routine.
Monitor your puppy Closely:
Have Fido wear a leash at all times when you are home. This will help you keep your puppy close. I recommend tethering your puppy to furniture (something they cannot pull) near you so you can keep an eye on your puppy and quickly be able to get a hold of your puppy if he begins to potty. If you are having trouble with Fido chewing on the leash too much, look into getting a tie-out or a thin chain type leash that will be less fun for your puppy to chew on.
If you cannot closely monitor your puppy or need a break, put your puppy in his crate. Keep your puppy crated in a small area. Fido should have just enough room to lay down, no more. If your puppy has a history of soiling the crate, do not use anything absorbent in the crate. It should just be the plastic bottom.
Take Fido through the same door and walk your puppy to the grass the same way. Try and go to the same place on the grass to help associate that area with going potty. When you get to the grass, you are going to stay there for at least 10 minutes. Ignore Fido while you wait for your puppy to go potty. This means don’t talk or make eye contact but make sure you watch your puppy out of the corner of your eye so that you know when they’ve gone. Refrain from saying a command like “go potty.”
Use a retractable leash or a long line when you go out so Fido has space to go where he or she wants, but can’t play until after they’ve gone potty. Sometimes dogs won’t go if they are on a relatively short leash. If it is safe and he isn’t too distracted by play, they can be off leash, but continue to monitor your puppy so you know whether they’ve gone or not.
After Fido goes potty (as soon as he takes one step away) give them puppy lots of praise and 3 treats, one at a time. Remember, we want to make a big deal about going outside and make sure it is really rewarding to do so. Typically, use food of high value, such as hot dog or chicken, and only give Fido those high value treats for eliminating outside and at no other times when he is inside. If Fido eliminates within the first few minutes, stay outside for the full 10 minutes and give your puppy praise and treats each time they go potty (he might only go once, but you can still give your puppy the opportunity to go again). If you find them urinating multiple times per outing, please have his or her urine tested for a UTI or the like. It can be shocking how many puppies test positive for that sort of thing.
If you catch Fido having an accident, use the loud, firm “NO” (so they get startled). Only do this if Fido is in the middle of an accident or immediately just finished (no more than one step after they’ve gone). If you were not able to catch Fido as he or she was going, do not use the correction “NO”. They won’t understand what they’re being punished for. They will only know soiling in the house is being punished if you use the correction as he’s going (or immediately just finished). Once you reprimand Fido by yelling “NO”, grab the leash and immediately take your puppy outside and onto the grass. Once Fido goes on the grass, give your puppy praise and treats as usual.
It is very important to catch Fido having accidents. The more accidents he has in the house without being caught, the longer housebreaking will take. Remember, consistency is key! They must learn that every time he goes inside, something bad happens and he has to go outside anyways.
Schedule and Food/Water Routine:
Keep the water bowl outside (or up on the counter if weather is bad). We do this for a few reasons. One, drinking water stimulates the bladder so it will increase the likelihood that Fido needs to go after he drinks. Two, they will learn to ask to go outside (if/when they do, take this as an opportunity to let your puppy relieve themselves). Three, it will allow you to keep to the water schedule which is outlined below.
Fido will need to go out to potty every 2 hours when you are home. Cut off water 2 hours before you have to leave for an extended period of time, and 2 hours before bedtime. For example, if you take Fido out for the last time at 10 pm, the last time your puppy should get water is at 8 pm. They should only get access to water during his scheduled potty times and will only have access to it before he goes to the grass to potty. Don’t let your puppy get any water when walking back inside. NOTE: At first they may need to go out more frequently than every two hours, but you will still only give your puppy water at the scheduled two hour mark. Fido should be able to hold it 8 hours overnight and during the day when you are not at home. Once this is established, you can ignore any crying or whining at night, as that is likely more for attention than the need to potty. If they begin soiling the crate, adjustments will need to be made to discourage that.
You veterinarian will give you the optimal number of times to feed Fido, which may be 3 or 4 times per day. Try to feed the final meal as close to bedtime as you can, and make sure that they have a final bowel movement before they go to bed for the night. Food takes approximately 6-12 hours to digest for puppies, so if you feed your puppy at 8pm, they will likely need to eliminate between 2-8am which increases with age.
Keep in mind, although food takes more time to digest, eating will stimulate the need to go, and they will most likely need to go outside to go potty as soon as they finish eating.
It typically takes at least 30 days of a strict housebreaking program before I recommend fading off of the program. Once you’ve established a great routine and you’re well on your way to having a housebroken puppy, feel free to give your puppy a bit more freedom or relax the food and water schedule a bit. It’s important that they still be contained when you’re unable to monitor their behavior and it’s critical that you continue rewarding pottying outside. Slowly but surely, you’ll have a housebroken puppy!
For more individualized help contact us today. Beyond the Dog is available for private in-home consultation or video chat sessions. Want us to do the work for you? Our Board and Train Program may be your best option!