Beagle looking at toilet sign for potty training seminar..

5 Tips to Successful Potty Training!

5 Tips to Successful Potty Training!

This time of year, many cute little furry balls of fluff find their ways under the Christmas tree. Potty training is one of those things, that if you get a puppy, you just have to go through it. Puppies don’t understand that there is just one single place that you prefer them to go and that place is not in your house! This is a lesson that must be taught to them. However, I always say potty training dogs is really more “People Training”. In many ways, we must be able to alter, adjust and change our own behaviors in able to be successful in changing the most natural of behaviors in another animal. This is true for all types of things, jumping, pulling on the leash, digging, barking, and yes, especially potty training.

We always want to set our new puppies up for success so with that, here are a few quick tips from the trainer to help you on your way!

  1. Establish a Solid Schedule: Have an almost newborn baby type of schedule. Playtime, eat time, sleep time… the quicker you build a daily schedule for your puppy, the quicker you can figure out where the troublesome parts of the day are.
  • Crate Training: A crate is an invaluable part of a dog’s life. If you travel, if your dog visits the groomer, if your dog has an injury and has to stay at the vet or if you show your dog in any sports you will want them to learn to love their kennel, but also it has just as important a use for potty training. This is the one controlled environment, their little home inside your home, where you protect your dog from getting in to things that could potentially injure them when unattended but it is also the one place that your pup will learn how to hold their bladder until a certain time, which is instrumental in potty training. It helps your puppy to develop those control muscles quicker, and this tool alone can cut down your potty training time tremendously. Acquaint your puppy gradually to the crate from the minute you bring them home. Feed them in it, play games within it and make it a really happy place for your puppy to be.
  • Reward Positive Behavior – Don’t Focus on the Bad!: If your pup goes in the yard, reward them lavishly right there in that spot (don’t wait for the treat party to happen when you go inside). I use a super special treat that they only get for going potty in the appropriate place. I also only give 2 treats in a row for pee and 3 treats for poop! This is the only time this little jackpot happens.

Do not focus on disciplining your puppy if he goes in the house. If you get too upset, this can cause many puppies to start hiding behind furniture or in safe zones within the house and feeling uncomfortable going in front of you outside, causing many puppies to start holding it until you go back in. If you catch your puppy in the act, simply interrupt the behavior, swoop them up and get him to the appropriate area as quickly as possible. Remember to reward lavishly if they can finish out there!

  • Limit Your Pups Options: A new puppy needs consistency when training anything. Multiple options just adds confusion and gums up the works, which inevitably just adds to your potty training time. Sleep in one place (Ex. A crate in one room), potty in one place (Ex. Corner of backyard), go out the same door to the potty area (not multiple exits to one potty spot). Limiting options makes your daily routine clear cut to your puppy in what you want from them. Start the routine now that you want them to do as an adult dog. Try not to teach your puppy one method now, and then change it up on them down the road. If the consistency fails, then so will you!
  • Catch EVERY Accident!: This is one the hardest “people training” parts of the equation, but it is I think, the most important. If you catch an accident, you can try to get them to the right spot, reward them for a job well done and encourage future behaviors. If you don’t catch them in the act, you basically just have to clean it up, suck it up and hope you catch the next one. Any amount of scolding or discipline is not in any way going to help your dog understand what the appropriate behavior to do next time is.

The more accidents you miss, the longer it will take to potty train. Keep your puppy contained in his crate when unattended and keep your puppy close to you at all times when they are loose in the house, so they have no options to sneak away while you aren’t looking. Treat them just as you would an infant or toddler left on the floor in your home. Taking the leash and attaching it to you (umbilical cord training) can help you greatly during this stage. There is no “5 more minutes” in Puppy World so be ready to drop whatever you are in the middle of doing in an instant to get your pup to the right spot and set them up to succeed. Already having the leash attached can eliminate the having to go grab one (which they have inevitably gone when you turn around to hook them up) and will also allow you to be much more perceptive to learning your puppy’s body language when he has to go.

Best of luck puppy owners in your potty training endeavors. By following these simple tips these days will be behind you before you know it!

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