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How to Potty Train Your Puppy

September 16th, 2011 Pets

Teaching your new puppy how to go to the bathroom outside rather than in your living room requires a lot of commitment, patience and consistency. Some dogs may take longer to pick it up than others, and you should expect to have a few accidents in the house even with the most well-trained dog. Nobody's perfect.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to pay attention to your puppy. Keep him within your sight at all times so you can watch for signals that he has to go. If he starts to sniff around in a way that makes you suspicious or if he starts to squat or lift his leg, take him outside immediately.

Puppies are like babies in that they do better with a schedule. If you feed him, walk him and take him outside at the same time every day, he's more likely to learn when to go to the bathroom. Puppies usually have to go to the bathroom soon after eating or drinking, so take him outside shortly after you feed him or see him drinking. Bring him outside when he wakes up in the morning and before going to bed. Try to let him outside every two hours or so while he's learning. Don't play with him outside on these trips. Just wait and watch him go, then give him plenty of praise or even a treat as a reward for good behavior when he does go.

Go through the same door whenever you're taking your puppy outside and try to bring him to the same spot. You may even want to come up with a word or phrase to signal that it's time to go, like, "Go potty." He'll eventually learn to associate all of these things with going to the bathroom. It may help to put a training pad near the door that you walk him out of. These have an attractive smell that make puppies want to use them for the bathroom and he'll eventually learn to go to that door when he needs to go.

When your puppy does successfully go outside, give him a reward immediately after he's finished. Don't give him it too soon because he'll be distracted and might not finish until you take him back in the house later. However, if you wait until you're back inside to give him the treat, he won't associate the reward with going to the bathroom.

If you can't always keep an eye on your puppy, confinement or crate training can help, as long as you make sure he's not in there for too long. If he's confined in a small space, he'll be less likely to want to soil it by going to the bathroom. Make sure the space or crate is big enough for him to stand up in and turn around. Keep it comfortable with a blanket and a couple of toys. Over long periods of time, always give him water. Don't use the crate or the space as punishment, just as a place where he can stay while you're busy. When you take your puppy out of confinement, bring him right out the door and to the spot where you usually take him.

If you catch your puppy going in the house, interrupt him by making a startling noise (but don't scare him), picking him up or telling him to go outside. Don't punish him if you do find an accident because it's too late to teach him anything. Punishing him will just make him scared of you or scared to go to the bathroom in front of you. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Soon enough your puppy will be able to tell you when he has to go to the bathroom.