Guide to Potty Training
Potty training is not an easy task, but it is something that must get done before it's too late and your dog ends up with bad habits. Most dog owners wonder about how they will train their dogs, and it usually falls between using pee pads or teaching them to go outside. Before I begin giving you tips on how to train your puppy, I’m going to share with you my experiences with training my puppy.
I started by buying a massive pack of pee pads and planned to use them throughout the winter, however my puppy “Rocket” is an aggressive chewer, so he started shredding the edges of the pads. I decided to tape the pee pad down to the ground in his playpen where I also put all of his toys and a bed so he wouldn’t roam around destroying the place. I followed all of the right steps and Rocket quickly learned where he was supposed to go. The problem with using pee pads is that then the apartment starts to smell like pee and poop especially in the winter when the windows are closed, and the heat is on. Also, having to put down tape and rip it off the ground is time-consuming, annoying, and it can damage your floor. For some odd reason, Rocket would also bring his toys and play on the pee pad probably because it is a soft surface and sometimes he would lay on his pee; that turned my stomach. Then I realized the pee pad is no different than a carpet and I was only teaching him to pee on soft surfaces.
I knew I didn't want to use pee pads forever and I was delaying the inevitable, and that was teaching him to go potty outside. The younger the dog is, the quicker they will learn, and if your dog is already an adult they can still be trained but it might take a little longer, either way, these tips can be used for all ages.
Think about where you want your dog to pee and poop, it could be outside or on a pee pad. Please be honest and ask yourself “How often do I come home? If I choose to train him outside, will I be able to dedicate the time to take him out every hour or 2 hours? Am I willing to make the sacrifice of walking him every morning and night in the cold?" It sounds depressing, haha but in all honesty that's how it felt in the beginning, until Rocket started getting the hang of it and then everything got more comfortable. After you’ve chosen where you want your dog to go, you can follow these steps.
1. Wake and Potty: Take your puppy outside or to the pee pad IMMEDIATELY after waking up.
2. Verbal Command: Use a verbal command like “Go Potty” while they are going. Some dog owners advise not to say anything while they are eliminating because it distracts them or confuses them however Rocket learned that “Go potty” means pee and poop from me saying “Go Potty” while he was peeing or pooping. I would recommend not praising them until they are fully done and saying “Go Potty” in a neutral voice, so they don’t get excited and stop before they are done.
3. Praise and Treat: This is super important! You must praise your dog loudly and excitedly when they go potty in their designated area and follow with a treat. I purchased these bite-sized training treats on Amazon for Rocket, and he loved them. I’ve attached the link if you would like to check them out. They’re only 3 calories each and are wheat and corn free. If your puppy is teething, I would recommend either Salmon or Liver flavor, the company carries cheddar ones, but those harder and your puppy might not be able to chew them.
4. Every Hour: Take your puppy out every hour and slowly increase the time, so they learn to hold their urge to eliminate. Also, take them out after meals and naps and before bedtime. If you're taking your dog outside, try to take them to the same spot every time so the scent can help them go. If they are using a pee pad, try to leave some pee on it, so they smell it and continue going there.
5. Supervise: Supervise your puppy at all times and start letting them out of the crate or playpen a couple of hours a day so they can get accustomed to their new home. Remember they are now a member of your family so just like a baby, they have to learn to get around and know what is okay and not okay. My sister suggested I keep a leash on Rocket and tie it to my waist while he’s out of his playpen, so I can supervise him constantly AND he won’t find a corner to secretly pee in. I did this for the first week of training, and it worked wonders if you see your puppy sniffing a lot, walking here and there in circles or has a high tail these are indications that your puppy needs to go.
6. Confined Space: While they aren’t under your constant supervision keep them in a confined space using either their crate or making the playpen smaller to fit only their bed. This way they won’t have room to pee since they won’t spoil their beds. I have a crate in my room with a bed used only for night time and an adjustable playpen that could be made smaller to fit only his bed. Once he was potty trained, I opened the playpen up and use it to keep him in when I’m not home or when he’s on time out (I remove his toys and put him in there for a couple of minutes).
In case you are wondering: I didn't want to use his crate for potty training or timeouts because I was scared that he would relate the crate with timeouts and not go to sleep at night, but I also know this is all in my head. I know many people that have crates, use it for everything, and their dogs happily stay inside.
7. Schedule: Stick to a feeding schedule and take away any water 2 hours before bed. I give Rocket water with his meals and then leave the water out for 20 mins after he’s done eating and then it’s removed. Others keep the water out, and that's fine, but Rocket would drink a gallon a day if I let him so, for now, I keep him on a schedule
8. Stay Consistent: Lastly and probably the most important tip of all: Consistency is Key! Trust the process, dogs are super smart and will pick up on the routine quickly; this is why you can find articles that say “Potty train your puppy in 7 days”. It is super easy to teach them something, but just as easily they will forget that's why you have to stay committed and even when you think they got it, stick to your schedule.
Have patience; you might be training your puppy for a month or more depending on how old and stubborn they are and how consistent you stay. Keep in mind your pup is going to peep and poop around the house a lot but this is normal. Remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Do not punish your puppy until or unless you catch him or her eliminating in your home. If you didn't see your puppy doing it in front of you then just clean it up and let it go. There is no point in scolding your puppy or rubbing their nose in its mess as your puppy will only get scared and will not understand what they've done wrong. In the meantime clean up after your puppy immediately using an ammonia free product I use this one. I also mop the flood weekly with vinegar, water, and some dawn. Vinegar works wonders as it eliminates all odors. You can also mix vinegar and water to clean up after your puppy just let the mixture sit on the urine stain for 5 minutes and then wipe.
Other than that, happy training :] If you have any questions comments or concerns feel free to email me at LifeByStephBlog@gmail.com