Picking up your puppy is probably the most exciting part about puppy raising, but as soon as all the cuteness has worn off (actually some of the cuteness will wear off the first time he piddles in the house or perhaps a little poopie accident on the car ride home…YUCK!) one of the first things you will think about is how to potty train a puppy.
When we first started raising guide dog puppies over ten years ago we received a guide dog puppy manual on how to raise and potty training puppy .
As guide dog puppy raisers we follow all the rules and puppy training guidelines outlined in our puppy manual and when it comes to potty training our puppy we simply turn to page 42 in our manual and follow the instructions on how to potty train a puppy. So today we’re going to discuss how we go about…you guessed it…potty training a puppy!
QUICK TIP: You likely don’t have access to a Guide Dog Puppy Manual. Luckily we’ve read many books on puppy training and one of our favorites, Puppies for Dummies is an easy read that will give you a solid foundation for raising and training your puppy.
How to potty training a puppy
Here are some of the basics we’ve learned over the years on how to potty train a puppy.
Potty training is obviously one of the first things you’ll want to teach your puppy. If done properly, potty training is not difficult. The key is to be consistent.
Never allow YOUR puppy to be unattended or out of YOUR sight. If you are unable to do this remember to use confinement as a means of prevention.
QUICK TIP: We highly recommend crate training your puppy as a primary means of confinement.
Keep your puppy on a schedule. Feed him at regular times and always give him a chance to relieve himself right after being fed.
Using a designated area in your yard, let your pup have plenty of time (fifteen minutes) to relieve itself.
Encourage the puppy to go by using words such as “Get Busy”. This is the command used at Guide Dogs of America. We use the same command with all of our puppies in training.
When the puppy has done his business, praise him lavishly. A good rule of thumb to follow is to give your puppy a chance to relieve himself at a minimum of these times…
When Should I Take My Puppy Out To Potty
This is uber important. Anticipating when your puppy will potty should be something you know like the back of your hand.
Always take your puppy out to his potty spot:
- First thing in the morning.
- After each meal.
- After a nap.
- After playtime.
- Right before you and your pup retire for the night.
Remember your puppy should always relieve on a leash. It is important to train the puppies to relieve on leash in a variety of surfaces (grass, gravel, cement, etc…)”
One thing I wish I would have known sooner is to train my puppies to relieve on different surfaces. It’s important to train your pup to pee on a variety of surfaces.
cement, grass, gravel, rocks, wood chips, dirt, and any other place you might imagine.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We recently started training our puppies to alert us when they have to go potty by using a potty training doorbell called the Smart Bell. It requires a little bit of training, but it’s a good alternative to your dog scratching up the backdoor.
Here are some of the puppy training tips and hints I’ve learned over the years when working on potty training with my own puppies:
1. Keep an eye on your puppy – We learned pretty fast that it’s important to keep a constant eye on your puppy. Use puppy gates (same as baby gates), tie-downs, and leashes to make sure you can always see your puppy. If you see him start to sniff around, circle, whimper, or squat then quickly scoop him up and take him out to his designated potty place in the yard. Give him a ton of praise when he potty’s in his spot. It’s important to keep your puppy under constant supervision not only for potty training purposes but to keep him out of trouble in general. We’ve found many a chewed-up shoe, cell phone, remote control because we didn’t keep a close eye on our puppies. This can be both costly and dangerous for your puppy.
2. Keep a puppy potty schedule– If you keep a puppy potty schedule you’ll notice your pup can be fairly predictable with his potty times. We just use a sheet of paper and write it down every time our puppy goes pee or poop (you’ll start to notice trends on your puppy’s potty schedule). Here are a few potty times that should automatically be on your schedule.
- Your puppy will always need to go potty shortly before and after eating or drinking water. We feed our pups twice a day (our young puppies eat three times a day) at specific times which helps control the times they go poop.
- As soon as your puppy wakes up. Puppies almost always go potty right after waking up.
- “Play makes pee!” It seems as though every 10 minutes or so your puppy will pee when playing.
3. Be Consistent – stay free from variation. Stay consistent so your puppy knows what you want him to do. Be consistent by taking him out the same door to the same potty spot. Be consistent with your puppy potty schedule. Be consistent with your puppy’s feeding schedule. Be consistent and make sure everyone in your household abides by the same puppy potty training rules. If you do not stay consistent then it will take longer to potty train your puppy.
4. Be Persistent – continue firmly with your potty training your puppy in spite of any difficulty. At times it may seem like your puppy just does not get it, but don’t waver and be persistent. It took our Aussie mix, Linus less than 2 weeks before he was potty trained. It took about 6 months to fully trust Stetson with his potty training. Stay persistent!
5. Be Patient – defined as the ability to suppress annoyance…puppies are adorable, but they will also test your patience. Try to remain calm and don’t get upset with your puppy. It takes time to potty train a puppy. Be patient and you will be rewarded. If you feel yourself losing your patience step away for a while and let your puppy have some alone time in his crate with his favorite KONG or chew toy.
6. Praise Your Puppy – The most important thing when we raise our guide dog puppies is to give your pup tons of praise every time they do something right. Don’t forget to give your puppy a ton of praise every time he goes potty in his designated potty area. This will help reinforce the behavior with your puppy.
7. Crate Training Puppies – Many people feel like crate training is like imprisoning your puppy. However, crate-trained puppies enjoy the safety and security they feel when in their crate as they will find it much like their den had they lived in the wild. In fact, many of our puppies in training have grown so accustomed to their crates that they will often go to their crates and sleep any time they are tired. Crate training is great for potty training as it’s your puppy’s natural instinct not to potty where he sleeps.
- Place the crate in your bedroom where the puppy can still see and hear what is going on.
- Put a blanket or towels in the crate for bedding. A pup will rarely soil the crate, however, if he does, try removing the bedding.
- A crate should not be too big, but large enough for the puppy to stand, stretch and turn around.
- When placing the puppy in the crate, use word “kennel” or “kennel up”.
- If he should happen to fall asleep somewhere else, pick him up and place him inside and quietly shut the door.
- Don’t use the crate for punishment.
- Take your puppy outside to potty before putting him in the crate.
- Take your puppy outside to potty as soon as you take him out of the crate.
Do Not Rub Your Puppy’s Nose In His Accidents!
We need to reiterate…Do not Rub Your Puppy’s Nose In His Accidents! Do not hit your puppy after an accident! Do not punish your puppy if you find an accident!
Never punish your puppy after the fact. Your puppy will think you are punishing him for whatever is happening at the time of the correction. Your puppy will not make the connection that this is an area that he previously soiled and that is why you are punishing.