The topic every new dog owner dreads. Potty training is arguably one of the most important things you can teach your dog. Over the years I’ve picked up some helpful tips that make potty training a little faster and definitely more headache free for the human in charge of cleaning up whatever messes may be created.
My number one piece of advice to all new puppy owners is to get a crate. For years I hated the idea of a crate, I didn’t like the idea of sticking a sweet puppy in a cage. Like many things dog related, my views have changed over the years. As I’ve continued to research dog training and I’ve tried different things with my own dogs I’ve learned that it’s more than ok to admit your views have changed because you’ve found something that works better. Admitting you’ve changed your mind about something is a sign of growth not failure!
So why am I a firm believer in crate training now? For lots of reasons but one of the biggest reasons is how much it can speed up the potty-training process. When you bring a dog home, they should either be outside, in the crate or closely monitored until they’ve proven that they are reliably house trained. Dogs don’t like to soil in an area where they eat and sleep and ideally the crate will be used for both of those things. The crate also just provides containment so your puppy or new dog has fewer opportunities to sneak off and make a mess somewhere you won’t find for a while.
Let me be clear, a crate should never be used as a form of punishment and it’s not somewhere you should stick your puppy for long stretches of time without breaks. If a puppy is stuck in a crate for 8 hours a day with no breaks they most likely will make an accident, their bladders just aren’t big enough to hold it for that long. If you work full time try to either come home on your lunch break or have a dog walker come by to relieve your puppy while you’re gone.
A crate is a fantastic management tool. Most of potty training is about managing the environment and your puppies schedule to set them up for success. Every time a puppy makes an accident in a house it makes it more likely that they will continue having accidents in the future. Making sure your puppy or new dog is crated, monitored, or outside at all times reduces the likelihood that they will have a chance to practice having accidents inside the home.
I recommend the MidWest iCrate because it includes lots of stuff a new puppy owner will need.
Accidents will happen, no matter how careful you are. If you get a puppy odds are they are going to have an accident inside the home at some point while you’re potty training. Get a good enzyme cleaner to use on your floors and consider trying to limit your puppy to rooms that aren’t carpeted.
After many years of living with pets my favorite cleaner is Nature’s Miracle. No matter which cleaner you decide to use you’ll want to make sure it has an enzyme formula so that it really eliminates the odor. When a dog has an accident, getting it cleaned up quickly and thoroughly is not only important for preventing future accidents but it’s also much better for your floors.
When your dog has an accident, start by blotting up as much moisture as possible. Next apply the cleaner, many of them recommend letting the solution set for a period of time, make sure to follow the instructions. Come back and blot up as much moisture as you can. Depending on the level of mess you may want to repeat the process or consider scrubbing the cleaner in with a sponge and some water. After I’ve blotted the area dry I like to cover it in salt. I let this set overnight or for several hours. You’ll be surprised by the amount of moisture that the salt may still draw up. After several hours vacuum up the salt.
Note: Some people recommend baking soda but this is actually bad for your carpet and can be bad for your vacuum.
This may be out of some people’s price range but if you have carpet and it’s at all possible consider getting a spot cleaner. The one we love is the Bissel Little Green Pet Pro. Every time I use it I feel like I’m in an infomercial! You can use it on carpet or upholstery.
Routine is a puppy owners best friend. I feed on a set schedule and I monitor water intake. Anytime the puppy eats or drinks anything they are taken outside immediately after they finish.
When I first bring a dog home I take them out after naps, after eating, after drinking, and after playing. Many times a puppy will not realize they need to go potty until it’s too late if they’ve been sleeping or playing hard. If a dog is really struggling I’ll also set an alarm to take them out once an hour, except at night when they can usually go longer because they are sleeping.
If you have a fenced in yard it can be incredible tempting to just let your new dog or puppy out the back door to do their business on their own. I would recommend against doing this for a couple reasons.
The only way for you to know if your dog has actually gone to the bathroom is if you’ve seen them go, for that to happen you at least need to be in the yard with them. If your dog is having a hard time with potty training I would encourage you to take them out on a leash. Once they’ve gone to the bathroom reward them and let them off the leash to play. This makes it so they learn to go potty before playing and it provides a double reward of a treat and freedom.
If you take them out on a leash set a 5 minute timer. If they haven’t gone before the timer goes off take them inside and try again in 15-20 minutes. Continue doing this until they go potty, at that point you can let them off their leash to play.
If you’ve implemented a lot of these things and you’re still struggling with potty training you may want to consider the umbilical method. I personally have not had to use this because the other measures have always worked for me but I know several people who’ve used it with great success.
The umbilical method is when your dog is tethered to you anytime they aren’t in the crate or outside. You will want to get a hands free leash and you’ll want to pair this with continuing to do the other things I’ve mentioned.
The most important thing to remember when potty training is that loosing your temper doesn’t do anyone any good. If/when your puppy has a mess the best thing you can do is calmly take them outside and clean it up as thoroughly as possible.