All posts tagged: Potty Train Puppy
Puppy in a Play Pen

Preparation and patience are key to building a happy relationship!

The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.

Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You’ll need a collar and leash, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. And don’t forget to order an identification tag right away.

Establish House Rules

Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed them at night? Will they be allowed on the couch, or won’t he? Where will they rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits?

Plan the Arrival

Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Don’t forget the jealousy factor — make sure you don’t neglect other pets and people in your household!

Prepare for Housetraining

Assume your new dog is not housetrained and work from there. Read over the housetraining information given to you at the time of adoption and check out our housetraining tips for adult dogs. Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster house training.

Ensure All Pets are Healthy

Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, they will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don’t let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway. If you need more information about why it is so important to spay or neuter your dog, read our online information on spaying and neutering.

The First Weeks

Give Them a Crate

A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it’s a room of their own. It makes housetraining and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won’t want to crate your dog all day or all night, or they will consider it a jail cell. Just a few hours a day should be sufficient.

The crate should not contain wire where their collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.

If a crate isn’t an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well when sectioned off with a dog or baby gate.

Use Training & Discipline to Create a Happy Home

Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch them doing something they shouldn’t, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm, and let them know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that they have misbehaved. Reward them with praise when they do well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you’ll learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog. Also be sure to read our tip sheet on training your dog with positive reinforcement.

Long-term

Let the Games Begin

Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.

Patience is Key!

Finally, remember to temper your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give them time to adjust. You’ll soon find out that you’ve made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.

Puppy on absorbent litter

Housetraining your dog or puppy requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency. Accidents are part of the process, but if you follow these basic housetraining guidelines, you can get the newest member of your family on the right track in a few weeks’ time.

Establish a Routine

Like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that they’ll eliminate at consistent times as well, making housetraining easier for both of you.

Pick up your puppy’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they’ll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, don’t make a big deal of it; otherwise they will think it is time to play and won’t want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk to or play with your puppy, take them out and then return them to bed.

Supervise Your Puppy

Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re indoors.

Tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash if you are not actively training or playing. Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go out. Some signs are obvious, such as barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot. If they eliminate, praise them and reward with a treat.

Keep your puppy on leash in the yard. During the housetraining process, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. Give your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after they become reliably housetrained.

When You Can’t Supervise, Confine

When you’re unable to watch your puppy at all times, restrict them to an area small enough that they won’t want to eliminate there.

  • The space should be just big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates.
  • Or you may want to crate train your puppy. (Be sure to learn how to as a method of confinement.) If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you’ll need to take them directly to their bathroom spot as soon as you return.

Mistakes Happen

Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house—it’s a normal part of housetraining. Here’s what to do when that happens:

  • Interrupt your puppy when you catch them in the act.
  • Make a startling noise (be careful not to scare them) or say “OUTSIDE!” and immediately take them to their bathroom spot. Praise your pup and give a treat if they finish there.
  • Don’t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it’s too late to administer a correction. Just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will often do more harm than good.
  • Clean the soiled area thoroughly. Puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces.

It’s extremely important that you use these supervision and confinement procedures to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, they’ll get confused about where they’re supposed to go, which will prolong the housetraining process.

Make Plans for When You’re Away

If you have to be away from home more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. Instead, you may want to consider an older dog who can wait for your return. If you already have a puppy and must be away for long periods of time, you’ll need to:

  • Arrange for someone, such as a responsible neighbor or a professional pet sitter, to take them for bathroom breaks.
  • Alternatively, train them to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing this can prolong the process of housetraining. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that even as an adult they may eliminate on any newspaper lying around the living room.
  • If you plan to paper-train, confine them to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the designated elimination area, use either newspapers (cover the area with several layers of newspaper) or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child’s small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog-litter products at a pet supply store.
  • If you have to clean up an accident outside the designated elimination area, put the soiled rags or paper towels inside it afterward to help your puppy recognize the scented area as the place where they are supposed to eliminate.