Potty Training your dog is arguably one of the harder things to do, but it doesn’t need to be. No matter who you ask or what website you look at they all agree on a few things.
- You need a schedule/routine. It’s hard for anyone to learn something new if it is not repeated, practiced, and incorporated into day to day life.
A typical potty training schedule for a puppy consists of taking them out first thing in the morning, 10-30 minutes after they eat/drink, every 1-2 hours throughout the day, before being confined (e.g. indoor leash or a crate), and right before bed.
An adult dog needs to go first thing in the morning, every 2-4 Hours throughout the day, before being confined, and right before bed.
- You need a dedicated potty spot. Having a dedicated potty spot teaches your dog where it is acceptable to go and thus helps avoid destroying your yard or garden form the wrong type of fluid and fertilizer. I would suggest using either straw hay or sand to set the potty spot apart from the rest of your yard. Both of these options are easy to clean up. Another benefit to sand is once your dog is trained to go on it you can sandbox train your dog, much like you would a cat, if you are in an apartment or plan on being gone for a long period of time (2-4 hours for puppies or 6-10 hours for adults*).
To teach your dog to use the dedicated spot you will need to take them straight there every time you take them out for a potty break. If you have a puppy or a small dog you may want/need to carry them for the first little bit. A leash may be necessary for medium to large size dogs.
- Create and use a potty time command. Just like with other tricks you should use a command to tell your dog when it’s time to potty. This will help your dog know the difference between going outside to play and going outside to do their business. Go ahead and be creative when coming up with a potty time command but try to use something that you won’t say at other times to avoid confusion.
- Use rewards. Everybody likes a good incentive for learning something new so go ahead and give that dog a treat for going outside but make sure that you treat them outside with in a few seconds of them completing the task.
- Use a crate. I know that crates get a lot of bad reputation under the animal abuse and neglect categories but in the hands of a responsible pet owner crates can be a lifesaver. They create an area of safety for your dog where they can go if they need to get away from kids that may play to rough or situations that make them nervous. A crate also gives you peace of mind when you leave the house because you know that your house won’t be destroyed while you are gone. Even the most well trained and well behaved dog gets into mischief from time to time.
- Punishing accidents won’t help. It’s a proven fact that punishing your dog for going in the house, especially if they did it as an accident, with not help the situation at all. By punishing your dog you create a negative association with a very natural process. If you notice that your dog is starting to go while in the house calmly take them outside. Try to make it all the way to the dedicated spot and reward them if they finish going outside. Positive reinforcement is by far the most effective tactic in training your dog to do anything.
* You should never leave a dog home alone for longer than absolutely necessary. If you plan on being gone for long periods of time on a regular basis you should look into hiring a dog walker or having a friend or family member check on the dog periodically throughout the day.