Puppy Potty Training Tips From Your Carmel Veterinarian


Puppies need a lot of behavior training, but the first issue is always potty training.  One question I hear everyday as a Carmel veterinarian is “How do I house train my puppy to go potty outside?”  The goal of house training is to encourage and reinforce elimination in desired locations.  Good supervision is the key to help your puppy learn this very important lesson.  Follow these important steps to potty train your puppy:

  1. Know the Routine  A puppy will most likely eliminate 10-30 minutes after sleeping, playing, shutterstock_2513693_optfeeding, and drinking.  Use meal feedings and pick up any food not eaten in 30 minutes to prevent unsupervised feeding that could lead to an accident.  Some puppies can hold it through the night, but will need to eliminate every 2-4 hours during the daytime when young. 
  2. Go Outside with Your Puppy for Immediate Reward  When it appears that your puppy may need to eliminate, it should be taken to the same location every time.  Verbal cues such as “Go potty” may help.  When your puppy eliminates in the desired location, give lots of praise and instantly reward with a small but yummy food tidbit.  These rewards must be given immediately, NOT when the puppy returns to the house.  Therefore, someone must always go outside with the puppy to encourage and reward appropriate elimination.  The goal is to teach the puppy the proper place to eliminate and that elimination in that location is associated with rewards.
  3. Crate Training  When you are not available to adequately supervise, the puppy should be confined to a safe and secure area, such as a crate.  Before confinement, make sure your puppy has eliminated and has had sufficient play and exercise.  The crate should only be used in a positive manner, NEVER for punishment or jail during a time-out.  As a Carmel veterinarian, I often tell pet parents to think of the crate as the dog’s comfy den, just like we think of getting under the covers at night.  The crate should big enough for them to stand up and turn around in, but not much bigger otherwise they will eliminate in the crate.  Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den area clean, but if they are forced to stay in the crate too long they will eliminate and can lose this wonderful instinct.  When you need to leave for a very long time and/or you have a puppy less than 3 months, do not use the crate.  Instead, you should confine your puppy to a small room that is easy to clean and cover the floor with paper except for a bed area.  Gradually work up longer and longer crate times as you puppy grows up. 
  4. Business Before Pleasure  If your puppy just plays outside and will not eliminate, put him/her back in the crate for 5-10 minutes, then take him out again.
  5. When Accidents Happen  If your puppy eliminates inside in front of you, distract & immediately take him/her outside.  Once your puppy eliminates outside immediately offer praise and a food reward.  If you find an accident, this indicates inadequate supervision.  DO NOT PUNISH THE PUPPY!  Simply clean up the mess with an enzymatic urine eliminator product and supervise better.  

The less accidents you allow them to have, the quicker your puppy will be potty trained.  If you think your dog is having a hard time with potty training, call your Carmel veterinarian to make sure nothing else is going on.  But remember, your puppy is not potty trained until they reliably ask to go outside.  For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on this link to Carmel Veterinarian.

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