Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient dog. Many people try to win their new puppy's love by letting the puppy always have its way. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect.
You should always accompany your puppy outside for potty breaks. You’re there not only to ensure that he actually goes, you’re also there to reward your puppy with a treat for going in the proper spot. Wait until your puppy finishes eliminating and immediately give him a tasty reward for a job well done. If you wait until you get back in the house, your puppy won’t make the connection between his elimination and the reward.
To break this habit, you will have to get up very early one morning (when you have plenty of time), and get your puppy out on a walk before it has had its morning wee. You should not bring it home until it has been forced to go out of desperation. If however, you are unsuccessful, and your puppy has not toileted, then take it immediately into the garden on your return, or you risk it relieving itself indoors. Need more help? Follow these additional puppy training tips (e.g. socialisation techniques to prevent behavioural problems) or visit the Puppy Socialisation Plan website.
While indoor elimination solutions like potty pads and litter boxes have their place, using them can actually slow the process down if you plan to eventually have your dog eliminate exclusively outside. Teaching your puppy to potty inside sometimes and outside others can be confusing because you will eventually have to teach your dog that at some point the indoor option is no longer allowed. Potty pads work best for people who can’t get their puppy outside quickly, like those who live in high-rise apartments or have limited mobility.
Every dog needs to learn to walk on a leash. Besides the fact that most areas have leash laws, there will be times when keeping your dog on a leash is for his own safety. Learn how to introduce your dog or puppy to the leash, then teach him how to walk properly on the leash, even beside you on a bike. A loose leash walk teaches your dog not to pull or lunge when on ​the leash, making the experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Unfortunately, there is no magic length of time or milestone age when a puppy can be considered fully housetrained and there are many factors that go into how quickly a puppy can be potty trained. Your puppy’s age plays a major role during the initial phase of potty training, as a very young puppy won’t have the muscle control necessary to hold it for long periods of time.
One of the biggest mistakes new puppy owners make is expecting their puppy to hold it for longer than he is physically capable. The general guideline for puppy “hold times” is that each month of age equates to an hour of “hold time,” so a two-month-old puppy can hold it for roughly two hours. There are exceptions to the rule; your puppy should be able to hold it for slightly longer period of time at night as he gets older and you pup will need potty breaks more frequently when he’s playing.
Crate training is a vital part of potty training success. As den animals, dogs can appreciate crates as a safe space, and as clean creatures, they’ll often want to keep that sleep space clean. A crate of the proper size is important, as one that is too large may convince the pup they have space to both sleep and eliminate. Puppy pads give dogs the option of relieving themselves in an approved spot indoors. However, these can be tricky to train with if you’re ultimate goal is to get the pup to only potty outside eventually.
There is only one acceptable methodology for potty training a dog of any age: positive reinforcement. Traditional advice suggested swatting a dog or rubbing his face in his waste for mistakes in the house, but those techniques do nothing to make the potty training process more understandable for your dog and can actually damage your relationship with him. Keep in mind, dogs don’t view their waste the way we do – to them, pee and poo is pretty interesting! Punishing your dog for going in the house won’t help him understand what he should do instead and might make him afraid to go near you at all, inside or out. Successful potty training requires patience, kindness and remembering that your new puppy is just learning the rules.
Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.
If your dog isn’t giving you an obvious signal that they need to go out (like whining at the door) I suggest teaching them to ring a bell when they need to go outside. Some of the other signs dogs give that they need to go out such as pacing around or circling can be easy to miss if they’re in another room, which is why a noise based signal such as ringing a bell can make things easier.
This article was co-authored by David Levin. David Levin is the Owner of Citizen Hound, a professional dog walking business based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 9 years of professional dog walking and training experience, David's business has been voted the "Best Dog Walker SF" by Beast of the Bay for 2019, 2018, and 2017. Citizen Hound has also been ranked #1 Dog Walker by the SF Examiner and A-List in 2017, 2016, 2015. Citizen Hound prides themselves on their customer service, care, skill, and reputation.
It’s best not to punish the puppy for making a mistake. Instead, focus on praising appropriate bathroom behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt it by saying “No!” in a firm voice or clapping your hands loudly, then take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Never swat your puppy, yell at it, or try to rub its nose in the mess.
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