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    How to Potty Train your Dog or Puppy: Tips for New Pet Owners

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Dog potty training, young or old, isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but you do need to be consistent with your rewards and praise so your dog can learn what to expect.

    Tips for potty training your new puppy

    Are you thinking of adopting a new puppy? House training is crucial for keeping your pup as clean as possible. Plus, it’ll be easier on you in the long run as well! The basic rule of thumb is this: in the potty-training process, reward good behavior. Make sure to house-train your dog so that you can easily tell when it needs to go to the bathroom.

    Keep your puppy in a dog crate when you’re not home and at night to prevent accidents. Dogs don’t like to sleep in an area where they use the bathroom, so a dog crate is the perfect place to house-train a puppy. If it’s tiny and the crate is large, you can enclose a space in the crate where the puppy can do its business. 

    Use a pee pad close to the door where you take your puppy out. Time of day is critical, and frequent outdoor potty breaks for your puppy will help to create a routine so it can learn to relieve itself outside. 

    Take your puppy to the potty area outside thirty minutes before going to bed. A young puppy will need to use the bathroom fifteen to twenty minutes after eating or drinking, sometimes as often as every half hour. The older your puppy gets, the smarter it will be about peeing in the correct places—as long as you’ve taught it well!

    Use a baby or dog gate (or dog crate) to keep your puppy confined when you are unable to watch him closely. Establish a regular feeding schedule and bathroom break to help with house-training. You can start taking your puppy outside between four and six months old. Before that, you can use a pee pad, but be aware that a puppy pee pad will be soggy and dirty when your puppy uses it, and it should be replaced as often as necessary.

    In the house, it is best to use a crate for house-training; use a harness and leash when outside. Most importantly, use consistency and positive reinforcement when training your puppy because otherwise it can be a challenge.

    How to potty train a puppy on pee pads

    We want to help you get started with your puppy’s potty training. Some dog breeds are easier to house-train than others. You want to quickly establish your feeding and breaks routine to help with the potty-training process no matter what kind of puppy you have.

    Place your puppy pee pads just inside the door that you will use to take it outside. This will teach the puppy to go as close to outside as possible but will take time. The pee pad should be just large enough to hug your puppy, but not big enough that it can use the bathroom at one end and go sit at the other. 

    Remove and replace the pee pad if your puppy uses it appropriately. Otherwise, the pee pad should be left there for training. Puppy pee pads are good for house-training generally, but make sure to remove the furniture from around that area so your puppy doesn’t learn to associate peeing with that piece of furniture! 

    Training your dog to go to the bathroom outside means teaching it which door leads to the outside so it knows to go there for a potty break. Something important to remember is that you need someone to stay home to regulate potty training for your puppy and to supervise and reward good behavior. Successful potty training requires positive reinforcement and trust in you to take the puppy to the potty area when it needs to go. In other words, be consistent!

    Though crate training is important and many pet parents crate their puppies overnight, this does not help in potty training. Remember that your puppy will not want to pee where it sleeps, so it will try to hold it as long as possible. Puppies can be potty trained by taking cues from other dogs or their pet parents, but keep in mind that your puppy may need to pee as often as every half hour at the beginning. A cue can be helpful in the first few weeks of your puppy training and can go a long way in the potty-training process.

    Use a harness and leash before bringing your puppy outside to the potty area, even if it’s “just” the backyard. (Actually, it’s a good idea to have a leash for any type of training you are going to do!) When it uses the bathroom appropriately, praise your puppy, give it a treat, or play with it away from the potty area so that it knows it did something good.

    You want to be able to observe for signs that your puppy is going to go to the bathroom, such as panting, circling, scratching, walking around, sniffing or circling its feet, staring straight at you, or looking blankly at you. Teach your puppy to do a certain action at the door when it needs to pee so that you know to take it out.

    Don’t let your puppy go to the bathroom in the house if you cannot supervise it. Once you notice signs from the puppy that it needs to use the bathroom, take it out to the designated spot to do its business. This will teach your puppy where to go since you will be able to provide it with a cue word that it can associate with toileting. Punishing a puppy for having a potty accident and assuming it is already house-trained will only make house-training more difficult when your pup is older!

    Remember, your puppy must be potty trained in order for it to understand what you want it to do. If you put many of these precautions in place ahead of time, your puppy will have a greater chance of learning what is expected of it. Once you have created a consistent schedule, your puppy will immediately understand what is expected of it when it goes to the bathroom.

    Tips and techniques for house-training adult dogs

    Adult dogs can also be house-trained, though it may take more dedication and work because the dog needs to unlearn bad behavior in addition to learning good behavior. Keep a training pee pad within a few steps of the door in your house so that the dog is less likely to have an accident inside.

    If your dog is whining excessively while crated, it may be time to get the dog to the pee pad or take it outside. However, excessive whining may actually be a sign of separation anxiety.

    When your new dog is not in its crate, use a baby gate and doggie door to help the dog understand to go outside to pee. Also, the use of a doggie door can help if you’re away from home for some time and cannot supervise your new dog.

    Did you know that you should never leave a dog in a crate for more than eight hours at a time? Additionally, the recommended length of time is shorter for older dogs and puppies. Keep the crate in a quiet area of your home away from children and other pets. 

    If you see your dog going to the bathroom at another location, take it to the toilet area on a leash so that it associates peeing and pooping with the correct area. Once the dog uses the pee pad correctly, you can praise it and give it a treat. 

    Take your new adult dog to the pee pad inside or toilet area outside. Say “go potty” or another simple word you want your dog to associate with toileting. Never rub your dog’s nose into its pee or poop if it has an accident. This will teach it to fear you, and the dog may actually hide when it needs to use the bathroom. 

    Teach your adult or older dog to use a doggie door if you have one to get out of the house. Slowly, move the pee pad outside until your dog learns that it should be using the bathroom outside, and then remove the pee pad altogether. After the dog eliminates outside, make sure to praise and play with it so that it learns that going potty outside is good. 

    How to potty train an adult or older dog

    House-training is not a problem if you take your adult dog to the toilet area to go potty regularly. The dog’s behavior and self-confidence depend entirely on the dog’s age and how it was treated before you got it. Do not leave your new dog alone unsupervised with other pets until you know how it will react to them, even if it’s a puppy or other young or small dog. 

    Make sure to harness and leash your dog before you go outside—even if it’s just to the backyard—so that the dog learns that the harness and leash mean it will soon be able to use the bathroom. If you live in an apartment, have pee pads on hand in the kitchen area so that your dog can pee when you’re not available to take it for a walk. Once the pee pad is soiled on the floor, remove it from the potty area and replace it with a clean one. 

    The age and sex of an adult dog does not affect how and when to house-train it. Whether your dog is fifteen months old or fifteen years old, potty training comes down to two basic things: consistency and positive reinforcement. If your dog was house-trained as a puppy (before you got it), it will be easier to retrain using the same methods as you would a puppy. Puppy mill dogs and shelter or rescue dogs can all be taught the same way. The only difference is how long it will take to teach them.

    Potty training an older dog requires that you supervise it twenty-four hours a day if you can. Younger dogs and puppies should not be left alone unsupervised with an adult or older dog. 

    Separation anxiety is a common issue for older, sick, or injured dogs, and it can follow them through their lives. Potty training an adult dog can bring up these issues, so learn the difference between “I need to pee'' and “Please don’t leave me” with your dog. Teach your dog to use a doggie door or pee pad. Take it outside to do its business with a harness and leash attached. Treats and praise can be given when the dog eliminates outside. 

    If you diligently and consistently practice potty training with your dog, it will learn what to expect from you and you’ll be able to take it out without worrying about messes later. Remember that consistency and positive reinforcement are key; reward your dog for the behavior you want to see and ignore the behavior you don’t want. 

    Tractor Supply is ready to make potty and housetraining easier for you & your pets. TSC offers a wide selection of training items from puppy pee pads, crates, pet cleaners to dog treats for your best furry friend! Subscribe to our autoship program and receive regular deliveries of food, treats, flea & tick preventatives, supplements and more, all while saving you time and money.