Getting a puppy can have many perks. Besides an adorable buddy to hang with, a furever cuddle buddy, and the unconditional affection you’re sure to be awarded, dogs have been proven to help lower stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. Yet bringing a brand new addition into your home can have challenges, too. In many ways, a puppy can be just like a baby. They need structure, constant attention, and don’t come potty trained. Yet babies wear diapers, and most canines don’t. In fact, they need to go outside, regardless of the weather or the time of night. So what are all the ins and outs when it comes to helping and teaching your fur child good bathroom etiquette (barring an emergency)? If you find yourself asking these questions, rest assured, you aren’t alone. Read below for answers to many things new puppy owners often want to know.
When house training your puppy, three things are important to always keep in mind:
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While most puppies typically take 4-6 months to be completely house trained, some may take up to a year. Results will vary, and are partly dependent on your diligence with the bullet points above. Other contributing factors include the size and breed of puppy, the environment they came from, and whether they developed bad habits prior to adoption.
Now that we’ve gone over how long house training your puppy should take, let’s discuss when you should start. Many experts recommend that owners begin once their fur kids are 12 weeks – 16 weeks old. At this age, most pups have more control over their bodily functions and can be taught to hold them until the appropriate time.
There will always be exceptions, and some puppies may need more time. This is especially true if you’re raising a pup born with birth defects or disabilities. If your puppy doesn’t seem to be able to pick up on training techniques, they may need a little more time before continuing the lessons. Depending on breed, some dogs may just be more stubborn too! Remember to have grace and patience during the process. Short encouragement can go a long way.
In canine speak, the 3-3-3 rule stands for the phases a puppy or new dog may go through when they first come home. It represents 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 month scenarios, the rule is also sometimes called the “rescue dog honeymoon period.” The notion behind is that your fur baby should reach significant milestones during those time frames, as they become more acclimated in their new environment.
These are loose timelines, however. It’s important to stress that not all pups improve or advance within these time frames. If your paw pal works slower or comes from abuse, don’t give up hope or become overwhelmed with the potty and house training process.
When choosing a word or a phrase to use when asking or instructing your puppy to go potty, you can either get creative or stick with a basic command. Remember the point we used earlier: consistency is key. Sticking to the same verbal commands every time is of more importance than the words themselves.
Puppies tend to need more food than a full-grown dog. As such, they often require three to four meals every day. Although after eating, food usually takes 6 to 8 hours to fully digest, many dogs need to go out shortly after mealtime. Naturally, this tends to be confusing when planning their potty breaks. So how should you proceed?
It’s recommended puppies be let out within 20 minutes of eating. If they don’t do their business, they should be let out within the next 4 hours. The rationale is since they’re smaller, full digestion tends to happen in half the time of full grown dogs. So what about the puppies who tend to poop right after eating? Explanations indicate they’re simply making room, and voiding whatever is still in their system from the meal you fed them prior to their most recent consumption.
If you’re still having trouble pinning down their patterns, watch their body language each time you realize they need to go out. Lots of puppies sniff the ground, circle, or bark near the door. Each pooch is different, however. My dog, for example, came from past abuse. He isn’t one to bark or go to the door to alert us. Sometimes he stares us down, stands right next to us, or even stands up on the bed and keeps on inching closer. Being in our bedroom or even at the door in the middle of the night always tells us he needs to pee or poop. Otherwise, he’s happy to sleep alone in the guest bedroom, where he gets the whole bed to himself!
Teaching your puppy to do all his doo-ty in a designated spot involves these simple steps:
If your puppy still seems to be having some trouble, keep your composure and don’t act in anger. There are many tools to help them out, such as using something called a potty hot-spot spray. Just be careful choosing brands. Make sure to read the labels and check out all ingredients.
Using puppy pads to train is one of those topics that’s still controversial. Some believe puppy pads teach them bad habits, and even confuse them at times. Yet not all families have yards, and not all breeds of dogs feel safe going potty outside. Many chihuahuas I know (half a dozen) outright refuse, despite training! For overly skittish or elderly dogs, those with disabilities or living in apartments, or for working families who don’t always keep the same schedule, puppy pads have their advantages.
If you plan to use them short-term, make sure you don’t let your puppy get too dependent on them, take them outside every time that you’re able, and keep the pads in areas separate from their sleeping space. Watch for signs of chewing, shredding, or ripping the puppy pads up (ingesting can be dangerous). In addition, take proper precautions to ensure your puppy is able to distinguish the pad from other squares that may be in your home, such as rugs or doormats. Just like the hot-spot spray mentioned above, places like Chewy and PetSmart also sell potty deterrent spray. The same rules apply: check ingredient labels for the product’s safety and the proper way to use it.
No matter the puppy or rescue dog, accidents are bound to happen! Just like humans, dogs get ill or can’t always hold it as long as they’d like. If an accident occurs, don’t be too ruff on your fur kid. Punishing them may instill fear, both of you and being somewhere without constant access to an outdoor area. Simply take them right outside, and make sure to praise them for finishing there, or going there correctly the next time around. Finally, be sure to clean the site of the accident thoroughly. Puppies will tend to keep soiling areas that smell like their urine or feces.
There’s certainly a lot to learn when it comes to housetraining a puppy. We hope you found our potty guide useful and informative. If you have any other tips, please email us. We’d love to hear more about reader experiences!
Also, if you’re a new dog owner or looking for more paw-some tips, check out these related American Service Pets articles!
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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