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Potty Training Your Puppy
March 15, 2022
Have a new tiny canine addition to your family? Congrats! We know that keeping your humble abode accident-free and teaching your little one to do their business in the right place can be a real headache. But here are some tips from those who have done it successfully.
In the same way that parents of human babies must accept sleep deprivation as a fact of life for a time, when you bring home a new fur baby, be prepared for some messes. The chances of you avoiding indoor accidents completely are slim. Puppies don’t get full bladder control until they’re around six months old. And don’t be surprised if you do get to the point of thinking they’re fully house-trained, but then they regress. A puppy’s memory takes a while to form too, so you can’t blame them for forgetting or getting jumbled what they’ve learned.
They also can’t hold their bladders for as long as they’ll be able to when they’re older. Although you certainly can and should begin laying the foundation for healthy potty habits from the moment they enter your home, some experts say that the window between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks is the optimal time to begin the actual training and when you can expect to see results. Before that, they won’t be able to learn or physiologically control much. Prior to 12 weeks, puppies don’t even really have the muscle control to keep from eliminating inside even if they wanted to! And you can expect the whole training process to take 4-6 months.
Establish a Routine
Believe it or not, puppies thrive on routine. Keeping your days with your puppy as consistent as possible will set you up for potty training success. Take your puppy outside at least 3-5 times a day: first thing every morning, after every meal, whenever they wake up from a nap, and right before bed are a good start.
Consider using a word that’s associated with going outside every time you do, like “bathroom” or “potty.” And watch for their cues. Many pups will let you know they’re about to go by whining, sniffing, walking in circles, wandering off, or sitting by the door. Observe your own puppy and learn how to identify when they’re about to go.
When Accidents Happen…
And they will! You’ll want to thoroughly clean the area, and deodorize several feet around it, using cleaning products that break down the proteins in the urine and neutralize the odor. If a puppy smells his urine in an area inside, he’s likely to be a repeat offender in that same place.
Some quick fixes if your puppy’s having a hard time—put him outside more frequently or for longer or reduce his water intake before bed.
Positive reinforcement, and avoiding punishing your puppy, will be the key. When your pup does use the facilities outside, praise her mightily immediately afterward, and give her a treat or some playtime with her favorite toy.
The closest you’ll want to get to punishment when your puppy has an indoor accident is speaking to her with a stern face and a lowered tone. Remember that it is just an accident, and that she’s learning. Don’t yell or physically punish.
Changes in your puppy’s routine or environment might bring regressions—things like someone new in the home, a move, or you going back to work, starting a new job, or incorporating a new recurring out-of-the-home activity into your schedule, so be prepared, and give your puppy grace in those times.
And a note about puppy pads…some swear by these waterproof pads that you can leave around your home, but some suggest using these only if it’s extremely cold where you live, you live in a high rise, or you have limited mobility. Otherwise, puppy pads may confuse your little one and get them used to going to the bathroom indoors.
And when you get a new puppy, consider getting Bivvy pet insurance! It covers new, unexpected accidents and illnesses, such as:
And in addition to dog insurance for your new addition, check out Bivvy Wellness Care, which, for only an additional $9 per month, helps with preventative care, like:
We believe in you! With some patience and consistency, you too can join the ranks of potty-trained puppy parents. Good luck!
*Wellness Care is not available in every state.