Proud owner of a new purebred puppy? Perhaps a small pup like Shih Tzu
or something larger such as a Newfoundland
? It is potty training time! Figuring out how to potty train a puppy can be just as difficult as potty training a child. To speed things along, you need to have a plan beforehand or you will end up with a seriously confused puppy and a rug that looks like someone played Twister while holding an open bottle of Chardonnay. Even if you are a guy, trust me, you want to "read the instructions" beforehand on this one so let's get to it.
House training a puppy is never a walk in the park, even for dogs that are really well behaved. The natural inclination of a puppy is to go wherever and whenever they feel like it. I can guarantee you even Lassie did some damage to a carpet or two. It's important you understand this before starting with the training or else you will have unrealistic expectations and become incredibly frustrated. Accidents will happen. Deal with it. Have pee pads as well as cleaning supplies on hand at all times.
Create a Daily Routine
Routines. Dogs live by them. Some would say humans do as well, but that is another subject for another time. As for your puppy, you need to get them onto a routine when it comes to peeing or pooping. Schedules and routines are your strongest teaching tool, so make sure you take advantage of them.
So, what kind of a routine are we talking about here? Let's start early. When you get up, the puppy should be encouraged to go outside and use the bathroom. Go with them and take them to the area of choice. If they don't naturally go, give them a command word and stay there till they do it. When they do, reward them. This helps them realize this is the time to pee and they will associate your command word with the act.
Next up is feeding time. Every time you feed the cutest thing you have ever seen, you need to take them outside. Most dogs will naturally have the urge to use the bathroom after eating. Repeat the morning approach and your puppy may quickly pick up the routine.
Now the hard part. A puppy has a small bladder. There is no way it is going to make it through the day with only two bathroom breaks. Every two hours is probably a more realistic time span. Each time, you need to take the puppy to the same spot in the yard and give the same command. The problem is they may not naturally need to go. This means you end up standing their repeating the same command to the puppy over and over as your neighbor tries to decide whether it is finally time to call the police or not.
Stick with it. If your puppy clearly isn't going to go, take them back inside for 30 minutes and then come out and try again. When they go, make sure you reward them enthusiastically. They will start to get it eventually.
Finally, you need to consider taking away your dog's water an hour or two before bed time. Why? Well, think it through. If you drank a bunch of water just before bed time, what would happen in the middle of the night? Yep.
In fact, I have a funny story for you. A few years back, a friend of mine who is divorced promised his kids a dog. He went to the pound and grabbed a large wolf type dog. Tall, thin and a bit wild. On the first night, he let the dog sleep on his bed to help it adjust. He then got up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break. The pup apparently thought it was a good idea. When my friend came back, the dog was standing on the bed letting rip with abandon!
Don't You Dare
Don't yell at or punish your puppy for having accidents. You can say "go outside" and take them outside, but don't stick their nose in it. This will only make your pup scared of you and it is doubtful they will learn the lesson. Again, accidents are going to happen. You are trying to change a natural habit, so be patient. Deep breath! Deep breath!
Potty training a puppy can seem like an impossible challenge at first if you have a pup that likes to go here and now. Don't become discouraged. Every dog can be potty trained, and you can do it. When it happens, make sure to give your nosy neighbor a big smile and the thumbs up!