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How to Potty Train Your Puppy

Do you have a new puppy or adult dog in your family? Are you planning on adding a new puppy or adult dog soon?  Spring brings warmer weather, green grass and sunshine – ideal conditions for a new furry companion. The most common question that I am asked by people adding a new dog to their home is “what is the first thing that I should teach my puppy?” Over the next several issues I will discuss many “first things” that are important to teach your puppy. Let’s start with what is most important to YOU.

By far the number one issue that new puppy owners ask for help with is Potty Training! Here are three important things to remember and apply to solve your puppy’s potty training needs:

1. POTTY TIME HAPPENS OUTSIDE:  I highly discourage the use of ‘puppy pee pads.’ Teaching your puppy to use ‘pee pads’ gives him or her permission to go potty inside your house. Pee pad training results in much more work for you and is confusing for your puppy. If you want your puppy to learn that going potty in your house or apartment is acceptable, then use pee pads.  Your puppy will be happy to pee on anything that feels soft on its feet, including your carpet, laundry on the floor, your shoes, etc. Puppy pee pads are not a good way to start life with your new pup.

Teaching your puppy or new dog that ‘potty time is outside time’ speaks to your dog’s natural instinct to NOT soil in its den, and provides clear rules and boundaries for ‘potty break.’

2. ‘SHOW ME THE DOOR’: Puppies and dogs that are new to your home will not know the location of your desired exit door. You must SHOW your puppy what door they will use to go outside for potty breaks. You will repeat the ‘show me the door’ exercise by calmly going through the same door with your pup for each and every potty break. Once outside, take your pup directly to the area of the yard is acceptable for potty.

3. PUPPY POTTY SCHEDULE: Be proactive. Don’t wait for an accident to happen before you start teaching your dog how and where potty breaks happen. Involve everyone in your family to establish a successful and workable potty plan or routine for your puppy or for your adult, newly adopted dog.

Puppies generally can ‘hold it’ for about 1 ¼ hours for each month of age. That means that for an eight week old puppy, you will take it outside through the designated door, to the designated place in the yard EVERY 2 ½ HOURS. In addition, you will also take your puppy outside to go potty after a nap, after each meal, after a brief play session and whenever you think of it!  Praise profusely when your puppy makes the right choice to go potty outside! Treats are NOT necessary. The reward is the sense of relief that PUP feels when going potty and the sense of accomplishment when receiving your genuine praise. Puppies want to earn your praise to be the best companion with you for life!

Practice this three-step process and before you know it, your puppy will be showing you the door for their potty break!