Housetraining | Potty Training

Puppy Quick Tips

It's not personal. it's just business.

  1. CONFINE your puppy to a very small area with an easy-to-disinfect, non-porous surface when the puppy is not under an adult's direct supervision. A wire dog kennel or plastic dog crate is recommended for confinement when no one is home. If the puppy has to be kept confined longer than it can "hold it," an alternative confinement area with a toilet area must be created. Crate training recommendations can be found HERE. Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution are examples of enzymatic cleaners for pet stains. Buy a gallon and lots of paper towels!
  2. FEED the puppy meals and pick up leftover food after 10-15 minutes at each mealtime. Young puppies may need to eat up to three times per day depending on your breeder's or veterinarian's advice. The suggested amount on the bag is per day for the puppy's age and weight. Use a measuring cup. If your puppy is too thin, feed more. If your puppy becomes overweight, feed less. Feed your puppy on a schedule for consistent defecation habits. Why? If you feed too late in the evening or allow grazing of the food bowl, the puppy will need to defecate more frequently throughout the day and possibly during the night. I recommend feeding a puppy food free of corn, by-products, wheat, soy, food colorings, BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Doing so means less poop! Fresh water should be available to your puppy during waking hours when you are home and whenever he or she is confined for more than a few hours. (Leaving ice cubes in a bowl is not as messy as leaving a bowl of water in the kennel.) Many puppies sleep all through the night early on; puppies younger than 8-10 weeks may need at least one bathroom break during the night because they are not developed enough to hold their urine or feces. Allow your young puppy to sleep near you, especially if he or she must be confined during your workday.
  3. TAKE your puppy on leash to its designated toilet area after leaving confinement; first thing in the morning and right before bedtime; right after waking up from a nap; right after eating or drinking; whenever it becomes restless when held; whenever the puppy wanders away from family activity; whenever something exciting or scary happens, the moment the puppy stops engaging during play and the moment the puppy stops zooming around in the evening between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.
  4. REWARD the puppy with a tiny treat, praise and petting within 1-2 seconds of elimination! If you have a safely fenced area, take off the leash and allow a play time after pottying as a "life reward." Never spank a dog or rub a dog's face in urine or feces. You are teaching an infant animal of another species - living in your house - where to eliminate. Eliminating is not a moral decision. It is a bodily function.
  5. BE FAIR. The answer to the question, "How long can they hold it while confined?" is contained in this rule of thumb: the number of months in age + 1. For example, during waking hours, an eight-week-old puppy can usually "hold it" for three hours. During the night, it is quiet, there is no eating and drinking or physical activity; therefore, no elimination. When an eight-week-old puppy is out of confinement during waking hours, he or she may only be able to "hold it" 15-20 minutes.
  6. KEEP YOUR VETERINARIAN'S NUMBER HANDY. Make an appointment if you see changes in frequency of urination such as "going" outdoors and then "going" again shortly after coming back indoors, squatting without sniffing first and urinating a little bit, taking a few steps and urinating a bit more, or if you notice excessive water intake or "peeing a lake." When there is a medical issue slowing your puppy's housetraining, your puppy will not cry out in pain and you will rarely see blood. Hiding, restlessness, cringing, looking hunched over when walking, vomiting or diarrhea should also be addressed with your vet right away. Changing foods abruptly, giving too much human food - especially high-fat human foods and snacks - or too many dog snacks or chewies can cause diarrhea and vomiting. So can serious infectious diseases, internal parasites, and ingestion of plants or foreign objects. All edible treats and chews should be "Made in USA" and should be given under supervision.

    For after-hours medical emergencies, contact: Iowa Veterinary Referral Center at 515-727-4872.
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