Training Time by Sandy Modell
Potty training can be one of the biggest challenges in raising a new puppy. Success requires tremendous consistency and attention. But it doesn’t have to take months. In fact, by following these tips, you may potty train your pup in two weeks or less.
USE A CRATE ANY TIME YOUR PUPPY IS UNSUPERVISED
Keeping your puppy in a crate anytime they are unsupervised is extremely important. Puppies typically do not go where they sleep because they prefer not to sit in their own mess! I highly recommend the use of a crate that is big enough for the puppy to stand and turn around in–any larger than this may cause him/her to use the bathroom on one end and sit away from it on the other end. If you must take a phone call, send a quick email, or turn your back for even a few minutes, your puppy should be crated to avoid accidents.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR PUPPY BE ABLE TO STAY IN THE CRATE?
A good rule of thumb is the puppy’s age in months plus one hour. For example, if your puppy is two months old, he/she should not be left in the crate any longer than three hours. Allow your puppy enough time to eliminate outside before being left in the crate. This will ensure he/she will not be uncomfortable or go in their crate. Anytime you take your puppy out of the crate, you should take him/her out immediately to avoid the opportunity to go inside.
GET YOUR PUPPY ON A REGULAR FEEDING SCHEDULE
Establishing and adhering to a consistent feeding/water schedule for your puppy is the best way of keeping track of when your puppy might need to go potty. Young puppies will have a feeding schedule of 2-3 times per day, depending on breeder/vet recommendations. Normally a puppy will have to go within 30 minutes of eating a meal. Don’t restrict your puppy’s water during the day as a means of avoiding accidents. We want to keep our puppies hydrated. You can certainly pick up your puppy’s water dish 2 hours or so before bed to reduce the chance he’ll need to go in the night. After about 12 weeks of age, puppies can sleep comfortably during the night, so there is no need to set an alarm and wake the puppy up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
BE PROACTIVE IN TAKING YOUR PUPPY OUTSIDE
One of the complaints I get from clients is that their puppy doesn’t let them know that they need to potty. Be proactive and let your puppy out to potty before he/she gets a chance to “sneak off” and eliminate on your favorite rug! Be sure they’ve had a potty
break before allowing them the freedom to play inside or roam around the living room. This will help prevent accidents from happening in the house. Follow my mantra, “When in doubt, take puppy out!” Remember to take your puppy out as soon as they wake up from sleeping, right after eating, playing, or getting excited about anything. On your way to the door, start giving your puppy a cue, such as, “Do you want to go out?” Then when you get outside, add the cue, “Go potty, or get busy,” or any words that you want to say to communicate to your puppy that it’s time to potty.
HAVE LOTS OF POTTY PARTIES!
Every time you take your puppy out, you should have treats with you and you can also mark the behavior with a verbal marker like, “Yes!” or a clicker. As soon as your puppy is done eliminating, mark it with a “yes!” or a click, and then have a potty party, one treat at a time. Give them 5-6 small pieces of treats, one at a time, and with each treat, lavish love and praise on your puppy. “What a wonderful puppy!” “You are amazing!” “Thank you for going outside!” This technique builds what we call a “reinforcement history” that going outside is the bomb!
Many puppies get outside and get distracted by just about anything in the environment. Keep their attention focused on the task at hand. If all they want to do is play, then play with them, run them around for a bit, and then start giving them the “Go Potty!” cue. Within a short period of time, you will have your puppy housetrained!
Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Hound Academy, Alexandria’s award winning, premier canine training and learning center — offering classes and private lessons in puppy training and socialization, adult dog manners, behavior modification, agility, dog sports and canine fitness and conditioning, kids and dogs, pre-pet planning and pet selection. Classes starting soon! Visit www.wholistichound.com to enroll in our programs, and like us on Facebook.com/wholistichound and follow us at Instagram.com/wholistichound.