When toilet training a new dog or puppy, it is important to let them out to do their business after any of these things happen:
- After waking up
- After eating
- After drinking water
- After playtime
To teach your dog to go to the bathroom in the appropriate place requires consistency. I recommend adding a cue word to it, such as “Go Potty.” Each time your dog or puppy does one of these actions, it is important to let them out to potty right away. Take your dog to the outdoor potty area and say your cue, “Go Potty.” Wait until the dog has completely finished his/her potty, then act like it’s the best thing that has ever happened to you and lavish with praise, “Good potty! Good boy!” The really important part of potty training is to wait and stay outside with your dog for another 2-5 minutes. The reason for this is simple. If you immediately take your dog inside after going potty, your dog will learn that as soon as he goes potty, you take him back inside. But dogs enjoy being outside and most want to stay outside for longer periods of time. The dog will then start holding their potty, wanting to be outside for longer. Then the human thinks the dog does not have to potty, takes the dog back inside, and then we have an accident. This problem is easily avoided by waiting outside with your dog for a few more minutes after he has gone potty.
For potty training, I highly recommend teaching your dog that it is only acceptable to potty outside. For this reason, I highly discourage the use of Puppy Pads or Wee Wee Pads. Using these pads is teaching your dog that it is acceptable to potty inside, which it is not. If you live in an area where it is difficult to get outside in a quick manner (such as a high rise building), use a fake grass potty area instead of puppy pads. This way it will be easier to transfer the potty behavior onto real grass. I also recommend placing the grass on a balcony/ outdoor area if possible. When using puppy pads, what also often happens is that dogs transfer the potty behavior to the owner’s rugs around the house. Obviously this is not something we want. Teaching your dog to only potty outside from the beginning will make potty training easier and faster.
You must catch a potty accident in the act to do something about it. If you catch your puppy going potty in the house, immediately make a loud clap with a firm, but calm no. Then immediately take your dog outside to the appropriate potty area and encourage your dog to potty there (don’t be mad still). Lavish with praise once the puppy goes potty in the correct area. If you find a potty after the fact, do not punish the puppy in any way. Simply clean up the area and increase your supervision or kennel your pup when he cannot be watched to help keep accidents from happening in the future. NEVER spank or rub your puppy’s nose in an accident. This will only encourage your puppy to potty away from you/ out of your site in the future, which will make potty training more difficult in the long run.
When cleaning up potty accidents inside, it is important to use the correct cleaner. Normal household cleaners will not do the trick. We as humans may not be able to smell the potty still, but your dog can, and this will encourage them to potty in that same area. Use a cleaner with an enzymatic component, such as Nature’s Miracle to clean the potty accident.
Combine your potty training with kennel training. A new dog or puppy in your home should be confined or supervised at all times to prevent bad behaviors and toilet accidents. I highly recommend kennel training your dog. The reason we use a kennel for potty training is because a dog does not want to potty in the same area they rest in. Using a properly sized kennel can help teach a dog to hold their potty until the appropriate time.
When it comes to potty training puppies, the rule of thumb is: a puppy can hold his bladder for the number of months old they are, plus or minus one. So a three-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for 2-4 hours on average.