Why is My Puppy Still Having Accidents? The Do’s and Don’ts of Puppy Potty Training
It can be frustrating when your puppy just doesn’t get potty training, despite your best efforts. But before you give up and decide to become a professional carpet cleaner, take a deep breath. Patience and consistency are your best friends — well, besides your pup, that is. To help her learn where to do-do, here’s a list of five doggie do-do’s and five naughty no-no’s.
Do’s and Don’ts of Puppy Potty Training
Puppy Potty Training Do #1: Create a daily schedule for your furry friend!
If you are the type that creates spreadsheet calendars just for fun — this is your big opportunity! Your pup needs a consistent schedule that you both stick to each day. Assuming you don’t speak puppy, this is the only way that you can both be on the same page.
You may want to create a free-flowing environment for your pup to self-actualize, but she will only be potty-trained if she eats at the same time every day. Two scheduled meal times — one after morning playtime and one in the evening — will minimize the number of times your puppy has to go. Never leave food out all day, or you will need to replace your carpet!
Potty breaks also need to be consistently-spaced throughout the day, so that your puppy trusts that you won’t make her hold it too long. Be sure to differentiate potty breaks from outside playtime, so that she isn’t confused. When she knows what to expect, potty training can be a great way to build trust!
Puppy Potty Training Do #2: Understand she’s as young as she is cute!
You know that friend you envy because she announced on Facebook that she fully potty trained her new three-month old puppy? She didn’t. It is simply wrong to talk about a puppy being fully potty-trained before she is at least six months old. There’s a lot you can do in the meantime to avoid accidents, but there is still bound to be an accident here and there (think: puppy playtime excitement!)
So stop thinking that your pup will grow up to wear an adult diaper! She’s super cute, and super young. She needs your patience and understanding as she explores this big new world.
Puppy Potty Training Do #3: Develop a secret language with your pup!
No matter if onlookers whisper, it is not weird for you to have a conversation with your furry friend! In fact, a few keywords (think: “potty” or “outside”) said at the right time, and you will have your pup “performing” on cue. Before you know it, you will have your own secret language.
Puppy Potty Training Do #4: Lavish plenty of praise on your proud pup.
When your furry friend goes outside and drops it like it’s hot, you need to party like it’s 1999. Okay, maybe that’s a little much. But be sure to calmly reinforce the positive behavior in a cheery voice. Even better, give her a treat. Do this immediately so she understands why she is being rewarded.
Puppy Potty Training Do #5: Make a cozy den for your four-legged friend.
The most effective method of potty-training is crate training. That is, your pup stays in a small crate (big enough for her to turn around, but no bigger) for most of the day/night unless she is outside eliminating or inside playing with you. At no time does she roam freely, until she is potty-trained.
Crate training takes commitment, because it is fun to watch a freely-roaming puppy. But if you create a cozy den for her, you will utilize her “den instinct” to maintain a clean sleeping area. Plus, she will be able to get all the sleep that a puppy needs to grow big and strong!
Now that you know what to do, here’s what not to do:
Puppy Potty Training Don’t #1: Punish your apologetic puppy for an accident.
This is the number one rule of successful potty training. Whether or not you catch her in the act, do not scare her, rub her nose in it, or swat her bottom. This can create a rift in your relationship for years to come. You can make a noise (like “No!”) but be 100 percent sure you don’t scare her. Accidents are a frustrating but inherent part of potty training. Be patient.
Puppy Potty Training Don’t #2: Try to maximize her bladder capacity.
Especially if you are crate training, be mindful of your puppy’s small bladder. As a general rule (that only holds true for puppies under seven months old), your puppy’s age (in months) is the number of hours she can hold her bladder. When she is sleeping, she can hold it longer than when she is playing. But never make a puppy hold her bladder over seven hours. Do not ignore classic pre-elimination behavior:
- Sniffing around
- Whining inside the crate
- Looking out the window
Puppy Potty Training Don’t #3: Feed your precious pup doggie-Spam.
You want the best for your canine friend, so be sure to feed her the best. Do not feed her the dog food equivalent of Spam. Her digestive health will reflect the quality of her diet.
Puppy Potty Training Don’t #4: Let her go on solo adventures in the house.
There will be a day when your pup can explore your home to her heart’s content. But that day is not today. The more she roams freely, the more mysterious poop piles you will find.
Puppy Potty Training Don’t #5: Try paper training, unless you and your dog are really ambitious.
If you live in a third-floor apartment, it might be tempting to lay out papers in the (soon-to-be smelly) corner for your pup’s elimination. But paper-training is the most difficult type of potty training because your dog may have trouble understanding where elimination is acceptable, especially when she visits other houses. Unless you both are ambitious, stick to crate training.
Puppy potty training can be difficult, but with a dollop of consistency and a sprinkle of patience, your pup will be well on her way!
About the Author
An avid outdoorswoman, pet-lover, and animal shelter volunteer, Alexandra Seagal firmly believes that knowledge is of the utmost importance when it comes to pet ownership. With this mission in mind, she founded Animalso — a comprehensive website that covers topics ranging from potty training to playtime. In her spare time, she coddles her pet hamster, cat, and dogs — her pride and joy.