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Potty Training 101

Purchasing or adopting a new puppy has plenty of perks, including cuddles, puppy breath, lots of play time, and adorable photo opportunities. However, a new puppy also brings a responsibility that every pet parent dreads: potty training. With proper technique, patience, and a positive attitude, your puppy’s potty training can be (mostly) hassle and mess free!

Potty training should not begin until a puppy is between 12 and 16 weeks old. Prior to this age, puppies are not able to hold their bladders or bowels consistently. Pet owners should also keep in mind that puppies can only hold their bladders for as many hours as they are old in months. For example, a 5 month old puppy should be able to wait for up to 5 hours.

When starting a potty training routine, it is very important to remain consistent. The quicker you can place your dog on a potty schedule, the quicker he or she will be fully potty trained. To begin, always keep an eye on your puppy, either by confining him or her to one area of the house or on a leash. If training your puppy to potty outside, take him or her outside at the same time every day (every 1 – 2 hours in the beginning), and always to same place in the yard. When your dog begins to do its business, give a command such as “go potty” and then give your puppy plenty of positive reinforcement. The goal is for your dog to associate pottying outside as a good behavior. If also planning to bell-train your pet, remember to ring the bell every time you and your dog go outside.

If planning to train your dog to use potty pads indoors, you will need extra vigilance. Keep your dog nearby and watch for signs that he or she is about to use the restroom inside. As soon as you notice the signs (i.e. sniffing the ground, circling, whining, or looking at his or her rear end) immediately take your puppy to the potty pad. Be sure to give the “go potty” command as your dog does his or her business, and also provide lots of positive praise.

Another tip for effective potty training includes always feeding your dog at the same time every day. A feeding routine will not only be good for your puppy, but will also help you predict when he or she will need a potty break.

There are many mistakes pet owners make when beginning a potty training program, as well. Although it can be frustrating to have happen, never punish your pet if he or she does have an accident. Avoid outdated methods such as rubbing his nose in the mess. If you do happen to catch your dog inappropriately soiling the house, immediately take him or her outside or to the potty pad. When finished, provide plenty of praise. In the end, potty training is a necessary evil that comes with pet ownership, but a solid routine, positive reinforcement, and plenty of vigilance can lead to a pup with solid potty training skills!

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