One of the most difficult things any pet parent has to deal with is potty training. But as hard as it can be, house training a dog is an indispensable part of making sure your new puppy or dog feels safe, happy and healthy in your home. If you’re hesitant about how to tackle this daunting task, keep reading!
1. Choose the Best Potty Training Method for You and Your Puppy
Before you can begin training your new furry friend, you need to decide which puppy potty training method is right for you. According to the American Kennel Club’s Mary Burch, Ph.D., there are three main ways to potty train: dog crate training, paper training or regular (and numerous) outdoor trips.
While the idea of confining your new pet to a crate might sound terrible, it’s actually a highly successful training option, and not something a new pet parent should feel badly about. This method, which requires keeping your dog in her crate until she’s potty trained, is actually inspired by your pup’s natural instincts. Dogs feel safe in small, den-like spaces, so while her dog crate might look little to you, it probably feels quite cozy to her.
If you choose to try crate training, pick a crate that’s just the right size—large enough for your dog to sit, lie down or turn around in comfortably, but small enough that she won’t be able to choose a small area within the crate to use the bathroom. The idea here is to get your generally clean, neat dog to let you know when she needs to go out to use the bathroom. She won’t want to go in the middle of her cozy crate, and she’ll start scratching at the door or whining to signal when it’s time to go out.
This method requires using paper or absorbent potty pads to give your puppy an appropriate place to relieve herself indoors. Dog potty pads can be less than ideal for some pet parents, as one of the places you’re giving the pup the okay to go is in your house. However, if you’re unable to come home at multiple points throughout the work day, this can be a practical option for puppy potty training.
The final method simply requires creating a consistent bathroom break schedule and taking your dog outside frequently to prevent possible indoor accidents. While not possible for all pet parents, if you’re able to be at home during the day with your pup, this can be a good approach. Those trying this tactic should take their pet outside about every two hours. This includes first thing in the morning and last thing at night, as well as at other important points in your schedule together, such as after meals and naps, after time confined to a crate and after playtime.
No matter which method of house training a dog you use, follow these other three tips to ensure success.
2. Take Your Dog Outside to the Same Spot at the Same Times Every Day
Consistency is really crucial for dogs, so the more you can stick to a schedule, the better, safer and more secure your new dog will feel with you. And yes, this includes bathroom breaks. Of course, if your dog is obviously indicating to you that she needs to go out, take her outside. But if you consistently take your dog out at the same times every day and visit the same spots, she’ll quickly learn that place’s significance and when to expect her regular trips outdoors.
3. Positively Reinforce When Your Dog Behaves Properly
Whenever your dog correctly lets you know that she needs to go outside and successfully uses the bathroom outdoors, show her she’s done well by positively reinforcing this good behavior. Praise works much better than punishment, so rather than getting angry at mistakes, get happy about successes. If your dog does have an accident, clean it up with something that removes odors as well as stains to keep her from going in the same spot again. Hugs, kisses and dog treats are all good ways to show your dog that she’s done well.
4. Give Your Dog a Special Spot in the House That’s Just for Her
This is a more general tip, but still a crucial one. Sometimes dogs will have an accident in the house when feeling stressed or overwhelmed, and unfortunately, this can often happen when the parent they depend on is away from home. Giving your pet a special spot—whether that’s a raised dog bed, pillow or crate—gives your dog a safe, comforting place to retreat to if she’s feeling stressed or unsure of what to do while you’re out, and subsequently deters bad behaviors, like going to the bathroom in the house.