Many of my customers bring home a puppy and tell me, "We've had no problems yet! No potty accidents, chewing, digging, jumping, mouthing or counter surfing." I call this the honeymoon period. Just wait. Puppies, almost guaranteed, will go through all the above behaviors, especially potty accidents in the house.
On average, it takes four to eight months to have your puppy fully potty trained. Any trainer/owner who says otherwise most likely had a miracle puppy. Of course, by being extremely committed and disciplined, your timeframe could be less. Routine and repetition will get your puppy potty trained the fastest. By following the below potty training tips, you'll be calling the carpet cleaner a lot less often:
1. Crate training. Crate training is the most effective method to potty train your puppy. Not only will your dog learn not to potty where they sleep, but it will also keep your puppy calm, submissive and safe when you're gone. Dogs are descendants of Gray Wolves, which raise their pups in a den for upwards of one year. You want to give your puppy just enough room to stretch and do a 360-degree turn. The concept of the crate is that your puppy won't potty in one corner and then sleep in the other. I suggest only a hard bone to chew in the crate. No bedding, because you don't want your puppy to mistake it for a pee-pad.
2. Routine - Repetition. It is said that your puppy can hold its potty for its age in months, plus one hour (2-month-old + 1 hour = 3 hour hold time). I normally instruct to take your puppy outside after feeding, drinking, naps, indoor playtime and anytime after being in the crate. Designate a "potty-spot" and take your puppy to that same spot for potty time. It is OK to give your dog a treat after potty to reinforce good behavior.
3. Potty on command. As strange as it sounds, I have trained my dogs to eliminate on command. Many police dogs must have this ability due to being in a patrol car for long periods of time. Get in the routine of taking your dog to your potty-spot. Once your puppy has fully completed No. 1, with high energy and enthusiasm praise "good potty!" and give them a treat. Then, after your puppy has fully completed No. 2, again, with high energy and enthusiasm praise "good poop!" or "good business!" and give them a treat. The goal is to make the connection that potty in the potty-spot is always praised, and potty in the home is corrected. If you catch your puppy in the act of pottying inside, correct with a "grunt" or loud tone, and carry them outside to the potty spot.
4. Finally - Less is more! A dog's best sense is scent. Therefore, by taking them to the same potty spot time and time again, they will eventually go back to the same place to potty. By slowly giving your puppy more room to roam throughout your home, they will learn not to potty where they sleep and live. I strongly advise not to give your puppy full run of your home. Keep them in the crate or isolated in a small room when not supervised, to ensure that they will not potty on the floor.
Potty training a dog takes time and patience. A dog's bladder and internal organs do not fully mature until 10 to 16 months, so it takes time for the energy of the brain to catch up with the development of its muscles and internal organs. Be consistent with the above potty training tips and soon your dog will have full run of the house.
Mark Siebel is owner of DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training, LLC. He has trained more than 400 Valley dogs, speaks regularly at local schools about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to youths wanting to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona. Contact him at (602) 318-0122 or www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com.