Potty Training Hints
Submitted by Andrea and Tinkerbell
1. Remember that a puppy is still a toddler, and doesn't have complete control of his or her body yet. You need to set things up so that he doesn't have a chance to have an accident, and if he does have one, get a newspaper, roll it up, and thwack yourself on the butt while chanting, "I will supervise my puppy better." For instance, they CAN'T wait. When they need to go, they need to go NOW! So don't be surprised if, when you dawdle around getting your shoes and coat on, you end up with a puddle. It may help to carry your puppy swiftly from crate (or floor) to the door, as you are speedier and more agile than he is at this age. Don't worry, you and your puppy will get the hang of this together and develop a system!
2. Puppies can only be expected to "hold it" for one hour per each month of age. Even so, does not mean that he will automatically only need to go every 2 hours at 9 weeks, every hours at 12 weeks, etc etc. The more often you take him out, the more chance you have to catch him doing the right thing and rewarding him for it!
3. If you can't come home during the day to let him out every hour or two, then you need to set up a dog-safe area that's fairly large. I used an exercise pen set up in my kitchen on the linoleum floor. Furnish one end with bed, toys, and anything else he needs. Cover the floor on the other end with puppy pads so that he has an appropriate place to "go".
4. When you are home, the puppy should either be under your direct supervision, or crated. His crate should be just big enough to let him stand up, turn around, and flop down comfortably. It should also be furnished with special toys that he only gets in the crate that are extra-fun or extra-yummy, to keep him safely occupied when he needs to be in there. It would be best to put the crate in an area where the family spends time, so that he's not isolated and alone while he's in there. Think of it as a playpen for a toddler.
5. Every hour on the hour, take your puppy outside and wait for him to potty. Be boring. Don't play games, just stand there and wait for him to potty. When he does, tell him he is the smartest, most wonderful, most amazingest puppy in the whole entire world, and stuff his mouth full of treats. Going potty outside should be one of the most wonderful experiences of his young life at this point. You want to make a BIG impression that going potty outside is the greatest thing EVER and you love him for it so much you just can't help yourself, you are going to stuff treats in his mouth. Keep him outside for a further 15-20 minutes, as he may not have completely emptied himself with the first go. You can spend this time playing games and petting him and having fun, because he pottied.
After coming in from a potty, you don't have to crate him again immediately, but he needs to be under supervision. If you can't keep a direct eye on him, back to his crate he goes (with the wonderful toys there). Just remember to take him out every hour and make pottying outside the Best Thing Ever. If you see him sniffing around and circling, whisk him back outside and repeat the Potty Routine.
6. If he does have an accident in the house, do not hit your puppy or yell at him. This is the equivalent of slapping your toddler who is just starting potty training for wetting her diaper. It also teaches the puppy that it isn't safe to potty around you, which may cause you trouble down the line when you're in a situation where you NEED him to go potty on a leash with you standing there.
And again, remember: it is an ACCIDENT. Dogs who are not sexually mature are
not marking their territory or doing this on purpose, they are doing it because they don't know any better. They are dependent on you to teach them what you want from them in a way they can understand and that makes them feel safe. YOU are all your puppy has to make him feel safe, secure, and loved.
When accidents happen, also be sure to clean the spot with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature's Miracle, Simple Solution, or PetZyme (the PetSmart store brand). Dog noses are much more sensitive than ours, and while most cleaners will clean it up to our satisfaction, your dog will still be able to smell the waste there, and will assume it's an appropriate spot to potty. Enzymatic cleaners are pretty dang handy to have around anyway, I've used them in the past to get red wine out of carpet, blood off of a white cotton uniform, and red clay mud out of anything at all. I'd suggest buying it by the gallon.
Books that may help you out as you train your puppy:
The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
Before & After Getting Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar
The Power of Positive Training by Pat Miller
If you'd like to add your name to our waiting list for a pup, please email me at [email protected] and I'll be glad to add your name and keep you posted on our upcoming litters.