Oops, You Did It Again: How To Potty Train Your Dog
Are you tired of your dog pooing and peeing all over the house? Teach your pet how to do its business outside with our Basic Potty Training Tips for Your Dog.
10/22/2022 | Sniff & Bark
One of the most important behaviors we can teach our dogs is to train them to go potty outside or at a designated spot. A dog that hasn’t been housebroken will relieve itself anywhere it pleases, causing foul odors and creating an unsanitary environment for the family.
After all, who wants to step on dog poop and suspicious puddles, especially around the house?
We’ve been there and we feel your frustrations. We know that a properly trained dog is a joy to have in the home and requires significantly less upkeep. To help ensure that your four-legged family member goes potty in the right places, we put together basic potty training tips. We’ll cover all the major aspects so you won’t be pooped from cleaning — or at least minimize the number of times that you have accidents.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go over some general guidelines…
General Potty Training Guidelines
The Best Time To Potty Train Your Dog
Similar to people, the best time to train dogs is when they’re young. You can start training them at 12 to 16 weeks old. Once they reach three to four months, dogs will have better control over their bladders, making training more effective.
Before you let them out though, make sure that they’ve been vaccinated with all the necessary shots.
Older dogs can still be potty trained but it may take longer, which brings us to our next tip…
Patience, Patience, and More Patience
All training, including potty training, isn’t a one-and-done deal. You may notice significant progress one day and be frustrated if they suddenly relieve themselves in the kitchen the day after.
Throughout the experience, remember to be patient. You and your dog are learning about each other during this time. Even if your pet is completely trained, it can still have accidents from time to time so give allowances and use it as a bonding experience for the two of you.
Know that it takes commitment and consistency to have the results you want. For your dog to learn, you’ll need to be around to teach it the same behaviors each time.
How Long It Will Take
There’s no exact timeframe for potty training but generally, dogs take between four and six months to learn. Note that this won’t totally eliminate accidents so you should still be prepared to spot clean with a strong and pet-friendly cleanser that can get rid of any unpleasant smells. (Enzyme cleaners work well since they’re biodegradable and non-toxic.)
What You’ll Need
Before training, get yourself the following items:
- A high-quality dog leash and dog collar
- A crate
- Dog treats for training
- Poop bags (a poop bag holder will also come in handy)
Dog Potty Training 101
Let’s get down to business! Here’s what you need to do to get started:
1. Pick a Spot for Potty
Pick a “potty area” for your dog. Ideally, this place should be a convenient and accessible place that’s free of distractions for your dog. When you bring your puppy out, avoid playing and engaging with it. This may confuse your dog and make it associate the area with playtime.
2. Establish a Schedule
Consistency is key to potty training. The idea behind this tip is to establish an ongoing regular schedule that your dog will learn to anticipate each day. Get your pet used to relieving itself at the “potty area” you’ve chosen. This means letting it out:
- As soon as you get up in the morning
- After your dog has eaten
- After your dog wakes up from a nap
- Before you leave home
- After playing
- Before you go to bed
You can also let your dog outside at certain times (which will be more frequent if it’s still a puppy). If your dog is over six months, you can let it out every six hours. For younger dogs, add one to how many months old it is and that’s the number of hours you can wait before letting it out. For example, if your dog is two months old, you should take it outside every three hours (2 months + 1 = 3 hours).
What If My Dog Doesn’t Go Potty Outside?
Your dog isn’t likely to get it right away so there may be times when you go out and nothing happens. That’s perfectly fine. Just come back inside and keep at it. Eventually, your dog will understand.
However, when you’re outside and your dog relieves itself, reward the behavior immediately with treats and praise. Food is a great motivator for our fur babies!
Signs That Your Dog Needs To Go
At this point, it also helps to recognize certain behaviors that might mean your dog needs to go. Take your pet outside if you see it:
- Sniffing and licking its rear
- Sniffing and tightly circling a certain area
- Going to an area in your house where it relieved itself earlier
3. Use a Crate
Potty training takes perseverance and patience but sometimes, you have to go out and won’t be able to take them out for potty breaks. This is when having a crate is a major advantage.
Dogs like having safe spaces where they feel safe and comfortable. Crates provide dogs with sanctuaries where they can sleep and run to if they feel anxious for any reason. Since your pet will naturally consider it a safe space, it won’t soil the area with its excrement and you can place your dog inside when you have to leave the house.
Of course, you should only leave them inside for certain periods since they won’t be able to control themselves for too long even if they have been fully trained. Also, long periods inside a crate will harm their overall well-being. Adult dogs can take six to eight hours inside while puppies over four months can be left in their crates for four to five hours.
Advanced Potty Training: Using Behavioral Cues
As your dog learns to associate its “potty area” with the deed, you can move on to using behavioral cues. Instead of trying to determine when your dog might need to go, you can teach it to tell you. Pets can be taught how to sit by the door or scratch it, bark, or ring a bell when they have to go out.
Obviously, this is a lot more convenient for us dog parents. Successfully teaching your dog to perform these cues is also a lot more fulfilling. While we can explore these training techniques in another article, these basic tips should be enough to get you on the right path and will help you reach a major milestone: teaching your dog to do its business outside the house.
Have you started potty training your dog? Tell us about your experiences and if you have other techniques that work in the comments below!