Puppies are a world of cuteness and joy. The cuteness and joy comes to an abrupt halt if the moment you see your puppy doing his/her business in the house! Potty training is usually the first training step that a new dog owner thinks about. Every dog needs proper potty training to avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion. This training should be consistent and start as soon as you get your new pup home. Potty training can be one of the easiest "tricks" to teach and will prevent your pup from getting any bad habits.
There are a variety of training methods that you can apply when potty training your dog. However, positive reinforcement methods achieve best results. Positive reinforcement means rewarding your dog immediately every time he/she does something good. Your pup will eventually associate the reward with the behavior. The secret for positive reinforcement is that the reward must immediately follow the good behavior. This training method can be very easily applied to potty training. Basically, all you have to do is to reward your dog when he does his business outside (or in some other designated area). By time the dog will realize that if he does his business outside, he or she will get praise and a treat.
Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule is of utmost importance. Dogs are habitual creatures and they thrive best in a routine. Set a feeding schedule so you set the pace for your dog's bowel movements. Eventually you will be able to anticipate your dog's restroom time based upon eating and drinking habits. This will better enable you to be present when your dog is doing that oh-so-wonderful outdoor potty. Your goal is to set your dog up for success to ensure that the potty training goes as well as it possibly can.
Pee pads can come in very handy when potty training your dog. These should be placed away from food, water bowls and the dog bed since dogs will naturally want to keep their feeding and sleeping area clean. Put it somewhere private where your dog can go and do his business in peace. You can even find special sprays at the pet shop to spray on the puppy pads. This spray contains a certain smell that attracts the dog to do his business there. Alternatively, you can touch the potty pad to the last place that your dog did business to ensure that it picks up some of the urine smells.
Crate training your dog can make potty training much easier. However, crating does not simply mean putting your dog in a crate! This would only cause him or her unnecessary stress and anxiety. First and foremost, the puppy has to learn that the crate is his safe place. Start introducing the crate slowly by following these crate training methods. The result should be that your dog is comfortable and happy to stay for extended periods in his crate.
With the crating method you will have more control over your dog's schedule. Your pup won't want to do his/her business in the crate because most dogs will only dirty their bedding in an absolute emergency. This is why it is important that your dog considers the crate to be his or her own space. Through crate training you can put all your attention on the dog when he or she is out knowing that business is about to happen. Therefore, crating your dog gives you the opportunity to catch those critical moments and guide your dog as desired.
Use One Potty Training Command!
You should always have one potty training command for your dog. You should keep repeating this command when you take your dog out to do his needs. However as soon as he does the deed, stop saying the command, and reward with a treat. After a few times your dog will realize the connection and it will become much easier. We highly discourage a separate pee and poo command as dogs don't differentiate between the two like you and I might.
Observe your Dog
Observe your dog for any behavior which indicates that it needs to do its needs. This will be much easier if you are following a schedule. As soon as you see the slightest hint that your dog needs to do his business, take your dog out! Use your unique potty training command and reward when the deed is done. You might take your dog out in vain for the first few tries, but you will soon start to understand your dog's cues. And your dog will start to realize that his cues are working!
Although the above points are tips that work in most cases, you must not forget that every puppy has its own personality. Some of the above discussed ideas may work wonders with one dog but not so much with another. At the end of the day, it all boils down to patience, guidance and consistency when it comes to teaching your dog new things. If you need assistance with potty training, check out our Find Your Foundation group classes for a great start on positive reinforcement with your new puppy.