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.
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.
Crate training is a great way to start your puppy off on the right paw. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean, so a properly sized crate, introduced gradually, will create a home base for your puppy and will keep him from having accidents when you can’t watch him. Use the crate when you’re unable to give your puppy your full attention during the day, as well as at nap time and bedtime. Selecting the right size crate is critical, and it should be big enough so that your puppy can comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down but not much bigger. If you opt for a crate that’s too large, your puppy will be able to potty in one corner and sleep comfortably in the other, defeating the purpose of crate training.
If you’re like me and have trouble keeping up with your pup at all times try using a tether. You can buy a tether from the pet store or simply do what I did and use a long lead or leash. If tethering your pup to you at all times is what it takes to make sure they’re not sneaking off then go for it. If you’re not keen on keeping your dog tethered you can use baby gates or closed doors to restrict your dogs access to the whole house.
Positive reinforcement is the key to success. A common mistake is to punish your dog during training or become angry. This will only cause confusion. You can try to hold your dog's attention with treats and enthusiasm, but know that it is time to end a session when your dog becomes bored or tired. Try to end sessions on a positive note. Eventually, successful training will be achieved with patience and consistency.
Introduce your new pup to its new home, family and their role. Just like when you are new to a place or group, your new pet may be bursting with curiosity, excitement, fear or joy. Now is the best time to lay out the foundation for a good and pleasant relationship with your pet. For a puppy to settle in and learn to trust and respect you and everyone at home, it is very important to establish your expectations of your puppy and be consistent with them.
Understand your puppy's particular breed behavior and needs. Research your dogs breed traits and special needs or any behavior that you should be aware of and look out for. For example, If your puppy is a tiny little chihuahua, their bladder will be very small and they will need to urinate more frequently; accidents will happen even if they are well trained.
Seeking professional help doesn't mean ditching your DIY training program. You can find a professional dog trainer who offers private training sessions, and some trainers even offer online sessions. Many dog owners prefer to join a local dog obedience class so they will be under the supervision of a dog training instructor without the higher cost of private sessions. Plus, classes challenge your dog to learn around the distractions of other dogs.
Many owners appear disappointed that their young puppy will not toilet when out on a walk, yet relieves itself the second it gets back home. This is because the puppy has been taught to toilet only at home (hopefully in its garden), and being creatures of habit, they often wait until they have returned home before evacuating their bladder and/ or bowels.