How To Potty Train Your Dog

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Potty training your puppy is all about reshaping its lifestyle and often appreciating them for sensible behavior with rewards and encouragement.

The following is a step-by-step strategy for training your dog to use a litter box or pad. The method described below has been tested and proven successful by many people; however, you may wish to make some adjustments based on your dog's age and other special needs (for example, an old dog with stiff joints may be better off with a padded mat rather than the plastic bottom of a covered litter box).

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Step 1

Start by placing the pad or litter box in an area where you would like the dog to eliminate. For best success, this location should be relatively free from distractions such as children, loud noises, etc. If you have not yet selected a specific location for training purposes, I recommend using one corner of an indoor room.

Step 2

Once the pad has been placed in the desired location, allow your dog to investigate this new "bathroom." If they begin to urinate or defecate on the pad, praise them enthusiastically and offer a food reward (such as small dog biscuits). Do not punish your dog in any way for an "accident" that occurs at this point in training. This initial free usage is very important in establishing proper habits in adult animals. If you ignore these accidents and do not provide any special encouragement, then it will be much more difficult to housebreak your pet when you begin using words like "outside"/"bathroom". Stay with your animal for several minutes until she eliminates; if necessary pick up the dog and carry her to the litter box or pad.

Step 3

After your dog has used the pad once with no distractions, begin moving the dog from one location to another until she eliminates. Practice this move several times in a row so that it becomes routine for your pet. For example, pick up your dog and carry them to the mat, wait until they start eliminating, place them on the ground when finished, praise and reward her immediately (if you don't reward within about one minute of exiting the litter box or pad area, then most dogs will abandon their efforts), then take them outside to an area where you want them to eliminated. If you practice this routine enough during Step 2 and Step 3, then your pet will quickly associate the pad and move with you to an outside location.

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Step 4

Practicing this routine in a new location will help teach your dog not to eliminate indoors when they are walked, so take your pet outdoors immediately after exiting the litter box or housebreaking pad. Walk them to a quiet area where they can remain undisturbed for about one minute (if necessary, pick up your pet and carry them). This time period should be enough for most animals to finish eliminating; but if it isn't then interrupt your dog by saying "no" or clapping hands until they stop urinating or defecating. Try leading them back inside and allow them two opportunities (a few seconds each) to eliminate in the mat/box before taking them outside again. Continue this process until your pet eliminates outside.

Step 5

After a few successful outings, begin giving your dog the verbal cue "go potty" right before transporting her to the litter box or pad. Initially use this phrase once or twice every time you take your dog to eliminate; then gradually increase the number of reminders they receive by a factor of about two each day (e.g., from two times on Day One to four times on Day Two to eight times on Day Three). Remember, just because they hear the word "potty" doesn't mean that they have to eliminate all at once - allow them time and they will do their business!

Step 6

Once your dog is eliminating in the desired location approximately 85-90% of the time, begin withholding water from them about three hours before you take her outside to eliminate. This will help avoid accidents caused by drinking too much water and going to the bathroom in excess. If your dog does not eliminate after a few minutes then return indoors and offer a small snack or a food treat (e.g., rollover) that is high in protein but low in fat, carbohydrates, etc. Continue this process until your pet eliminates outdoors; then bring out the "good stuff" (i.e., meaty treats such as liver, cheese, hot dogs).

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Step 7

Once you have established an elimination pattern with your pet it is important to maintain consistent habits whenever possible, so try not to deviate from this schedule for at least one to three weeks following the completion of training. For example, if your pet is used to going outside at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm every day then keep her on a similar schedule seven days a week. When you do take them outside try not to play or stay too long - instead, get in and out of the area quickly so that they will develop a pattern of going potty within a few minutes.

Step 8

If you begin experiencing accidents again (i.e., they are not the result of illness), wait until your pet urinates or defecates indoors; immediately interrupt them with "no"/"uh-uh", pick up (or guide) them to the desired location, put them down with a verbal cue such as "okay" or "hurry up," and then praise/reward them when they eliminates in the proper place.

Step 9

If your pet is eliminating in an unacceptable area but you cannot wait for them to finish indoors (because of weather, time constraints), pick up your dog and carry them to the correct spot. Once they finish, wait until they exit the pad or ground before giving them a verbal cue such as "okay" or "hurry up." Then bring out the good stuff!

Now you have read about potty training basics, it is time to implement them. If you catch the puppy doing the business in the wrong place, you should stop it by tapping on their back or clapping loudly.

During the training phase, do not take your puppy outside as often. It will not only cause accidents but also distracts the puppy.


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