There are many joyous experiences when it comes to owning a new puppy, but potty training is not among them. Sadly, it is a necessity.
Despite being a common journey many of us share, almost every one seems to reach the heights of helplessness when it comes to starting a potty training regimen. Let us help you avoid the wasted money, messy stains, and emotional turmoil that can often result in training your puppy to do his/her business outside.
IN THE BEGINNING…
When first bringing your puppy home, many men and women start off the process by laying down a protective layer of newspaper – in the event any accidents occur before training can sink in. While this is a good idea in the beginning, it should not be allowed to become a safety net later on. If you don’t ensure that your new puppy understands that going to the bathroom inside (even with safety paper) is a bad thing, you’re only going to make it harder for yourself as time goes on.
Instead, I would suggest going out and buying urination mats. You can find them at places like Wal-Mart or Petsmart, and they’re usually in the $20 – $30 price range. At that price, I would recommend picking up at least two. I’ll explain why later.
Now, place your mats in the corner of two rooms that can provide enough space for them. I have used my bathroom and laundry room in the past with stellar results. I should stress that these mats are only to be used during the early days of potty training, as well as emergencies later on.
The key is to teach your puppy that, at least in the beginning, there are designated places to urinate in the house. If your dog won’t go outside, but looks as though it has to do its business, get him/her accustomed to using both of the mats at first. The object here is to engrain a familiarity in your pet so that he/she knows there are certain places it can potty in doors, while at the same time giving you an opportunity to use your own methods to laying down the law in the rest of the house. Of course, this should never mean hitting/abusing your puppy. A domineering tone of voice, repetition, and rewarding success will be all you need.
Once your puppy is at peace doing his/her business in a designated spot indoors, you can begin warming him/her up to the outdoors.
THE NEXT STEP…
The next step is to begin taking your puppy for walks, preferably around your backyard (if you have one). If you do not have a backyard, a nearby park or walking trail should suffice. The key is to start off small. Get your puppy acclimated to the thought of a peaceful outdoors before she/he is old enough to endure the more exciting (and sometimes frightening) outdoors.
If you’re using your backyard, let your puppy sniff out the area. Let him/her fully explore the space, becoming familiar with every tree, bush, and blade of grass the good lord grew for just this occasion. This might take a few trips, but there will come a time when your puppy decides he/she is going to claim this space as his/her own.
When this finally happens, and you see your puppy go to the bathroom outside, begin the process of rewarding him/her for doing things right. A reward can be anywhere from a pat on the back with encouraging words, all the way to a treat. Now, this isn’t a routine you’ll want to hang on to – after all, you don’t want your pet thinking he/she will get a treat each time he/she goes to the bathroom. It will, however, serve as a nice balance to the light punishment you have rewarded your pet for using your carpet as a toilet.
Dogs are smart enough to know what behavior invokes which response, so keep it up just long enough for the point to drive home.
IN THE END…
In the end, the biggest tool you will have at your disposal is your diligence. Pets will typically make some kind of commotion when nature calls, and dogs will often bark and paw at you when that call connects. Acquaint yourself with your pet’s behavior when he/she needs to go to the bathroom, and simply give him/her an outlet.
The real underlying change that makes up potty training is one that you and your pet share. Your pet will gladly go to the bathroom wherever you want him/her to go, but they don’t know how to outright ask you to take care of business on your end. Make sure to (at the risk of sounding corny) become one with your new puppy.
My last bit of advice is to keep at least one of the potty training mats you bought in the beginning. This can be used for emergencies should they ever arise (such as severe storms, family vacations, or even day trips).