Potty training your new puppy doesn’t have to be a scary thing if you use Mother Nature to your advantage. Puppies are born with a natural instinct not to dirty their sleeping area/den. You want to use this to help you. We utilize a crate when potty training our puppies and it also serves us well when our dogs are older as their safe haven and den.
A puppy can typically hold their bladder 1 hour for every month of age. Note the word typically, your puppy may hold his/her bladder for longer or shorter periods of time, but this is a good average. Also just because a puppy CAN hold his/her bladder for that long does not mean that they DO hold it that long when they are out of their crate playing.
8 weeks (when puppies come home with you) - 2 hours
10 weeks/2 ½ months – 2 ½ hours
12 weeks/3 months – 3 hours
4 months – 4 hours
6 months – 6 hours
Things you will need:
~ The first things I will say you need to start is patience and a positive attitude. It can take a puppy at the very least 6 months and up to a full year before they are completely potty trained. Have patience with your puppy as they are learning. Getting angry and upset with them, or punishing them will only set them back and prolong the process and even create bad habits. When you punish your puppy for accidents, they don’t understand why they are in trouble for doing something their bodies HAVE to do. They learn to associate going to the bathroom with fear of YOU. The puppy will then have anxiety when they need to potty and they will try to hide from you when they need to go. So patience, patience, patience! If you do catch your puppy in the act of an accident, immediately pick puppy up and voice a firm NO and take puppy outside where he/she usually goes potty. Then comes POSITIVITY. If he/she finishes business outside give a vocal reward of praise, a loving pat/rub, and or a treat. If you find an accident in the house and it has already been done DO NOT rub their nose in it or punish the puppy! They have NO IDEA what you are trying to tell them and you will be creating the aforementioned problems. Simply clean it up and move on. It will happen…puppies make mistakes and really it is our fault because we should have been watching them. Puppies like to potty where they have pottied before. You will want to use a cleaner with enzymes in it so that the puppy cannot smell it and want to potty there again. We use Natures Miracle to clean up accidents. Click HERE to order it.
~ The second thing you will need is a small crate. You will want it to be only large enough for the puppy to turn around and lay down in. Remember, this is ONLY their sleeping area/den. There should not be room for puppy to potty on one side and sleep in the other. This is where we use Mother Nature in our favor. You can put a blanket in there so it is comfortable and soft for them. (Have back up blankets in case of accidents so you can replace the soiled one and wash it.)
~ The third thing you will need is reward! These will be small soft treats, touch, and praise with your HAPPY voice! When you take puppy outside and he/she does their business where they are supposed to, be armed and ready with all as soon as they are finished! I act as if I have just won the lottery when puppy does their business where they are supposed to. You don’t want to start squealing with delight too soon though or you could startle or excite him/her and cause them not to finish and then have to do it later when they come back inside. When my puppies find a spot and begin to go I will positively but softly say “go potty, go potty”. Then the second they are finished let the squealing begin! I go over to them and give them a treat and a pat and some very excited praise!
~ The fourth thing you will need is a leash. It needs to be long enough to be tied to you and allow the puppy to play. We use this when we have a puppy out with us but cannot watch them every second. At no time during potty training should your puppy be left unsupervised in the house. This is when accidents happen and if we are not there to POSITIVLY correct it it will turn into habit. SO, if you want to let puppy out and you are busy (washing dishes or etc.) and cannot supervise puppy every second, clip on the leash and tie it to your belt buckle. This allows the puppy to be out and with you and not wander off where you can’t watch his/her every move.
~ The fifth and sixth things are optional. X-pen & litter box. We train our young puppies at 4 weeks of age to use a litter box. They do this until they go home with you. If you want to use an X-pen as their play area while you are busy, you can set up a litter box with wood pellets for them to potty in. Or set an alarm to remind you to take them out ever 30 minutes.
I think I have covered everything you need to get started, now I will give an example of a typical 24 hour period in the life of a puppy we are potty training. This would be typical of a young puppy at 8 weeks of age when you will be bringing them home.
I will begin with the last feeding in the evening.
5pm – Puppies eat dinner and get their last drink of water for the night. About 10-20 minutes after eating we take them outside to use the bathroom. The water dish is picked up until the next morning. After puppies are brought inside we play with them for 10-20 minutes and then take them outside again to potty (they may or may not go again so soon but we offer). They are brought back in and placed in their crate to sleep. The crate is always within earshot. Remember 8 weeks = 2 hours of bladder holding time. We allow puppies to sleep as long as they want and do not wake them to potty (they may sleep longer than 2 hours). We listen for them and as soon as they wake up, whining or not, we take them outside to potty and reward. Yes this means you will be up during the night in the early months of your puppy’s life. You now have a new baby in the house! This is sleeping time and we want to teach puppies that so we do not play with them at all during the twilight hours. They potty and are brought inside and placed into their crate to go back to sleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until morning.
6am- Breakfast time! The water dish is put back on the floor for drinking throughout the day and breakfast is served. At 8 weeks old our puppies typically eat 1 ½ cups of kibble at each of their two feedings. Dogs have short digestive tracts and their food travels through them fairly quickly. 10-20 minutes after the puppy finishes eating they will need to potty so outside we go. This is potty time and not play time. We do not play with the puppy outside; they are there to do their business. When puppy has pooped and peed we take them inside and play with them (constantly in our sight) for 10-20 minutes or until they are getting tired. They go back outside for another chance to potty and then they are brought back in and put in their crate to sleep. Crate is kept within earshot and when they wake we take them out to potty. We then repeat the playtime and another potty then sleep throughout the day.
(If, when puppy is brought in, you cannot sit and play with them, this is where you can attach the leash and let puppy play next to you while you work. Or you can use the X-pen with a litter box or puppy potty pads and let them play with toys). You can sent an alarm on your phone to help remind you to take your puppy outside to potty if you are not using training pads or a litter box.
This schedule is just repeated daily. Young puppies sleep a lot at first. As puppies get older they will have longer awake times. They will also have longer nightly sleep times. As they grow adjust and increase the daily playtimes accordingly.
*Another note. You are essentially teaching your puppy that not only is his/her crate their den but that the entire house is also his/her den. To a puppy that is a BIG den. You need to do this gradually. Start with areas, allowing your puppy to learn one room at a time. You do not want to allow your puppy to have unsupervised access to the entire house. Let him/her work on having no accidents in the kitchen before allowing access to both the kitchen and living room. As your puppy masters each area and learns that that room too is part of the family den you can add access to more and more rooms until puppy learns all rooms are part of the family den.
After your puppy is fully potty trained you can then begin teaching him/her to ring a bell to tell you when he/she needs to go out. Click HERE to learn how to teach that.
Remember we are always here for you and your puppy. If you hit road blocks or feel like you could use some support and encouragement just give us a call or send a text message!