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How to Potty Train a Puppy to Go Outside

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Potty Train a Puppy to Go OutsideTips and Steps for How to Potty Train a Puppy or Adult Dog to Go Outside

Having a house-training plan before bringing your new pet dog home will make this process much less stressful. However, even with the best of intentions some new dog owners  find after living with a new dog that he is not house trained as promised or their training skills need improving. These steps to house training a puppy or dog can be implemented immediately. And with these steps, if you are consistent and use only rewards and absolutely no punishments, you should see some positive progress quickly.

buddy leashLeash Up

Until your puppy, or even your adult dog, is 100 percent reliably house trained, he should never be left unsupervised in the house. This is for two important reasons. One is obvious. Left unsupervised and he’ll likely have an accident. He does not yet know that eliminating in the house is not acceptable. Second, the most important aspect of any dog training is to develop communication with your dog. If you are not with your dog, then you are not learning to read his behavior that shows he needs to “go.” You are also not responding to those signs immediately so your dog can learn from you.

To ensure that you truly are supervising your dog at all times, attach your dog to you with a leash. Put his leash on and hold it or tie it to a belt loop and stay connected until you are ready to test your dog’s ability to be left alone. Even easier is to get and use a hands-free leash such as The Buddy System Belt and Leash sold at Amazon.

When to Take Your Dog Outside

Mostly through trial and error, you will learn on your own when to take your dog outside for a potty break. By staying connected to your pooch, you’ll quickly learn his signs of an impending elimination and know to take him outside. Keep in mind that puppies and small dogs have small bladders. You can also, and should, initiate potty breaks by taking your puppy out about once an hour and after he eats and drinks.

Teaching Your Dog

House training a puppy or dog is not about teaching a single behavior. When you break it down, there are several things you need to teach your dog. These include your dog coming to you and telling you it’s time to go outside, going to the appropriate spot, and doing the final act in that spot. All of these lessons are lessons you teach the dog. They are not expectations you should have of your untrained dog. The following breaks down each of the steps you need to teach and what your dog will learn from actions you take.

When it’s time to go outside, say “outside” and immediately take your dog outside. Your dog learns that a specific behavior of his (such as getting antsy, barking, or circling around) means it’s time to go outside. Eventually he will learn to show you this specific behavior when he wants outside. If you’ve missed the signs and your dog eliminates in front of you, the steps are the same. Just take him outside. You missed the signs and therefore it is not something to punish your dog for.

dog treatsTake your dog to the potty spot and say “potty.” Wait for the elimination to happen and at the exact moment it does, say “good potty!” Then reward with lots of praise and food treats. From this, you are teaching your dog a cue and where to go potty. The cue is the word “potty” and eventually you will be able to get your dog to potty on command when using this word.

The third phase is working to put these steps together. Going outside and going potty are two different behaviors for your dog in the beginning. How long it takes for your dog to put the two behaviors together and finally be house trained will depend on both your own consistent training using only positive rewards and your dog’s learning abilities. Some dogs just take longer than others to house train, just as some dog owners take longer than others to learn how to house train a puppy or dog.

soft crateUse a Crate

Keeping leashed up to your dog obviously has some drawbacks and is not practical 24/7. When you cannot stay within six feet of your pooch, then put him into a crate. Crates are a practical and natural tool to use when training dogs. Wild canines sleep and raise their young in dens and they do not like to get them messy. A crate gives your dog a secure den and his instincts will take over so as not to eliminate in the den. A good crate is this indoor/outdoor crate which can be used for indoors or travel.

Midnight Potty Breaks

If you are house training a puppy, you can expect to have to get up at least once a night to let your dog out. Because of his small bladder, this nightly bonding time may last for several months. If you put your puppy into a crate next to your bed, you’ll hear him circling around and getting anxious when it’s time to go outside.

The Test – Is Puppy Potty Trained to Go Outside?

When you feel you and your dog have this puppy house training thing down, then do a test. To test your dog you will need to set him free. He needs to have the freedom to go where he chooses and then the freedom to come to you when it’s time to go outside. If you want to confine him to a small space that’s easy to clean up, like a kitchen, then you need to confine yourself inside that space with him. This way there’s not a gate blocking him from getting to you when needed. If he doesn’t pass the test, then you have not yet house trained your pup. Leash him up again and keep working at it. If he does pass the test, then throw him a party with lots of treats, praise, and playtime with you.

For more dog training tips, read the highly rated best seller The Art of Raising a Puppy.


*Top photo by quacktaculous, Flickr

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