Pupstart Family Dog Training

Potty Training Tips

It's not personal. It's just business.

CONFINE your puppy to a non-porous area small enough to easily disinfect whenever there is not an adult available to devote his/her total attention to the dog. This means that the dog would never, ever get out of sight of the supervising adult. Doing so prevents destructive chewing and unintentionally TRAINING - yes, TRAINING - the puppy to eliminate on carpet, wood, rugs, vinyl or tile, and furniture. For safety, a pup must not be able to climb over or out of or get a body part stuck in a confinement area.

Never allow your puppy free reign until it is housetrained completely. A pen (above), wire dog kennel or plastic crate, or baby gates can help prevent bad toilet habits and destructive chewing. You can also tie the puppy to you with a leash ("umbilical cord method") or use a chew-proof tether in the room that you are in. To integrate your puppy into everyday life quickly, confinement is best created in a heavily traveled area of the house.

I recommend the use of a wire kennel or plastic crate when no one is home. At the very least, the area should be very small, non-porous, safe, and completely dog-proof. If the puppy has to be kept confined longer than it can "hold it," an alternative safe confinement area with a toilet area must be created. Here are crate training recommendations

Nature's Miracle or Rocco & Roxie Stain & Odor Eliminator from Amazon are examples of enzymatic cleaners for pet stains. Buy a gallon and lots of paper towels!

Unless your veterinarian advises otherwise, feed the puppy meals and pick up leftover food after 15-30 minutes at each mealtime. Young puppies - especially tiny breeds - need to eat up to three times per day. The suggested amount on the bag is per day for the puppy's age and weight. Follow these instructions carefully: some brands' instructions are based on the dog's anticipated adult weight rather than the pup's current weight. Use an 8 oz. measuring cup. If your puppy is still too thin, talk to your veterinarian.

FEED your puppy on a schedule for consistent defecation habits. Why? If your puppy grazes throughout the day or eats late in the evening, there will be frequent defecation and the puppy will need to defecate during the night. Plentiful fresh water must be available to your puppy during waking hours when you are home and whenever he or she is confined for more than a few hours. (Leaving ice cubes in a bowl is not as messy as leaving a bowl of water in the confinement area.) Depriving a puppy of water to decrease urination is poor care. Puppies are growing rapidly and need to remain well-hydrated for organ health. Many puppies sleep through the night early on; puppies younger than 8-10 weeks may need at least one bathroom break during the night because they are not developed enough to hold their urine or feces. Allow your young puppy to sleep near you, especially if he or she must be confined during your workday.

TAKE your puppy on leash to its designated toilet area after leaving confinement; first thing in the morning and right before bedtime; right after waking up from a nap; right after eating or drinking; whenever it becomes restless when held; whenever the puppy wanders away from family activity; whenever something exciting or scary happens, the moment the puppy stops engaging during play and the moment the puppy stops zooming around in the evening between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

REWARD the puppy with a tiny, smelly treat, praise and petting within 1-2 seconds of elimination! If you have a safely fenced area, take off the leash and allow a playtime after pottying as a "life reward." Never spank a dog or rub a dog's face in urine or feces. You are teaching an infant animal of another species - living in your house - where to eliminate. Eliminating is not a moral decision. It is a bodily function. If you "catch them in the act," interrupt if they haven't already started and take them to their toilet area. If they are in the middle of "going," let them finish and clean it up. Then hit yourself over the head with a rolled-up newspaper for letting it happen.

BE FAIR. How long can they hold it while confined? Here is a rule of thumb: the number of months in age + 1 hour. For example, during waking hours, an eight-week-old puppy can usually "hold it" for three hours. During the night, it is quiet, there is no eating and drinking or physical activity; therefore, no elimination. When an eight-week-old puppy is out of confinement during waking hours, he or she may only be able to "hold it" 15-20 minutes.

KEEP YOUR VETERINARIAN'S NUMBER HANDY. Make an appointment if you see changes in frequency of urination such as "going" outdoors and then "going" again shortly after coming back indoors, squatting without sniffing first and urinating a little bit, taking a few steps and urinating a bit more, or if you notice excessive water intake or "peeing a lake." When there is a medical issue slowing your puppy's housetraining, your puppy will not cry out in pain and you will rarely see blood. 

Hiding, restlessness, cringing, looking hunched over when walking, vomiting or diarrhea should also be addressed with your vet right away. 

Changing foods abruptly, giving too much human food - especially high-fat human foods and snacks - or too many dog snacks or chewies can cause diarrhea and vomiting. So can serious infectious diseases, internal parasites, and ingestion of poisonous substances, toxic plants or foreign objects. All edible treats and chews should be "Made in the USA" and given only under supervision.

For after-hours medical emergencies, contact: BluePearl Pet Hospital on Merle Hay Road in Des Moines at 515-727-4872.

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