Potty training a puppy is definitely one of the first things you’ll want to teach your puppy if you value your carpets and flooring.
Understanding Your Puppy’s Bladder
Puppies have small baby sized bladders with un-developed muscles and they are not physically able to control the bladder muscle that allows him or her to control holding it in until they are about 12 weeks old. Even if your puppy wants to hold it in and intends to be a good little puppy it physically is incapable of controlling the bladder muscles that would be used to hold it in until he or she is about 3 months old.
As they get older their hold it in capacity time frames start to lengthen. It varies a bit between breeds with large breeds having stronger muscles in general, including bladder muscles, than smaller breeds with less muscle structure.
Here are the average time frames:
Also a puppy’s digestive track processes food very quickly so about 5 minutes to 30 minutes after eating they will need to poop. Generally puppies will need a potty break after every meal, nap and playtime in addition to the pee breaks every 2-8 hours around the clock, depending on their age, which also includes during the night. So for the first 7 months be prepared to get up at night every 2 to 7 hours or so , depending on their age, to take your puppy out for a pee. Oh the joys of puppy parenthood.
Some of the signs that your puppy needs to go potty is when they start turning in circles, sniffing around or starting to squat. So if you see this take your puppy out for a potty right away.
When you first get your puppy and bring it to its new home one of the first things you will want to teach your little baby is that peeing and potty are for outside of the home only if that it is feasible. If you have paper or potty pads inside you are teaching your puppy that it’s okay to pee or potty inside the house. Also, if you have your puppy walk outside, instead of you carrying it, your puppy will learn to alert you when it needs to go out.
If you are gone a lot and can’t take your puppy out regularly having a designated potty area with something like The Porch Potty might be a good alternative.
The most important thing is having a designated area that they consistently go potty at that has their scent so they learn that this is their spot and it starts to become a habit. Consistency is key.
Praise and Reward Their Potty Success
Once your puppy has gone potty in their designated spot it’s important to reward them with petting them and praise. Dogs want to please their owners and will do anything to please them so showing them you are pleased when they potty in their designated spot will make them want to go there to please you.
Keep the reward to praise, petting and your approval only and do not give out food treats. When you give your dog food treats for potty you take the focus off of potty and put it onto food which can often cause your puppy to not completely finish eliminating because it is too focused on the food. Then when it goes back inside it will finish going to the bathroom and you have just un-done all the potty training you’ve accomplished. Your loving approval and the feeling of bladder relief your puppy will experience are reward enough.
It’s just as important not to yell at your dog when it potties in the wrong place.
A dog’s mind doesn’t work the way a human mind works. When you are upset with your dog it thinks that whatever it is doing at the exact moment you show disapproval or yell at it is the thing you are upset about. So if your puppy peed on your floors while you were at work and you came home, found the mess and pointed at it and started yelling your dog will understand that the mess is bad but won’t get that the act of peeing in a non-designated area is bad. The mess on the floor and the act of peeing are unrelated in your dog’s mind. The dog will eliminate, see the mess and then get worried that you are now going to be upset. It knows the mess upsets you but doesn’t understand that it should stop “making” the mess. You need to catch your dog in the act and show your unhappiness at the act.
Never ever hit your dog. Simply using a tone of voice that shows disapproval while telling him “NO” is plenty. Animals are very sensitive to even the slightest mood changes and tones of voice. Sometimes just a disapproving look is more than enough.
Never punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create a negative association with your puppy’s bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and take your puppy to the place where you want him to go and then give praise when he does go where you want him to go.
Timing is everything when teaching cause and effect. When you praise your dog for going potty in the designated spot while he’s in the act of going potty the positive reinforcement will work wonders. He will do everything he can to make you happy and will try his best to hold it in until he gets to his designated spot.