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 disinfect easily 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 complete free reign until it is reliably housetrained and chew-trained completely. For short-term confinement when you are home, 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. Integrate your puppy into everyday life quickly by confining in a heavily traveled area of the house.

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

Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution are examples of enzymatic cleaners for pet stains. Buy a gallon and lots of paper towels!

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.

Unless your veterinarian advises otherwise, feed the puppy meals and pick up leftover food after 15-30 minutes at each mealtime. Young puppies need to eat up to three times per day. (Tiny breeds may need more frequent feedings.) 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.

TAKE YOUR PUPPY ON A 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. (the bewitching hours.)

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. When you "catch them in the act" before they've started, interrupt as unemotionally as possible. Then take them directly to their toilet area. (If you react too harshly when seeing your pup assume the position, they may hide from you when they have to "go," rather than learn where they are supposed to "go.") If they are in the middle of "going," let them finish, then clean it up. Hit yourself over the head with a rolled-up newspaper for allowing a bad habit to get a foothold. It's going to happen, but avoiding mistakes gets this training done quickly.

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. Yes, they can often "hold it" overnight. 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, especially when the environment becomes exciting, i.e., the kids are home, the adults are done with work.

KEEP YOUR VETERINARIAN'S NUMBER HANDY. Make an appointment if you see frequency changes with urination. This can show up as urinating outdoors and then "going" again shortly after coming back indoors, squatting without sniffing first, urinating a little bit, taking a few steps and urinating a bit more, or excessive water intake and "peeing a lake." When there is a medical issue slowing your puppy's housetraining, your puppy may not cry out in pain and you will rarely see blood. Hiding, restlessness, cringing, lethargy, looking hunched over when walking, vomiting, or diarrhea should also be addressed with your vet righterinarian  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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