Housetraining quickly, and teaching Potty and putting it on cue is not hard. But it does require dedicated consistency on your part to help your puppy get it quickly.
This is what good house training should look like after one week. The word “Potty” has been put on cue and Riley solidly knows that outside is for doing his business. So when I say, “Go Potty,” he quickly gets down to business.
Daytime Strategy and Steps for Quick and Successful House Training
I accomplished this by starting with taking him out about every hour during waking hours. Every time he went, I said “Potty” as he went. After he finished going, I rewarded him with, “Yes, good Potty!” and playtime. It only took a couple of days for him to make the connection. Now we can go outside and as soon as I say Potty, I know he’s going to get right down to business. On days with freezing temps outside, this makes it bearable do be doing this in the middle of winter.
I also took him out after eating, after waking up, after playing, after… after… I basically lived outside the first week. It was worth it. He only had two accidents in the house.
As your puppy gets older, you won’t have to take him out as often. The rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their pee one hour per month old. So a three-month-old puppy can wait up to three hours, four-month-olds — four hours, and so on. Dogs max out with the ability to hold it for more than six hours. I personally think that’s way too long. I try never to let them go more than four hours without a potty brake.
It’s Important to Keep Track and Write a Schedule
The most important step you have to take is management. You have to keep an eye on your puppy. To do this, I closed us in our kitchen so I’d have a single room instead of the whole house to deal with. This way, he was always within site.
In order to keep track of time and peeing vs pooping, I wrote a schedule and kept it on the refrigerator. After each potty, I’d come back in and write it on the board. This let me get a sense for timing of when he needed to go.
Also careful observation is key. It only took me a couple of days to learn his poopy dance. Then it was a breeze to whisk him outside to do the deed.
Exercise is Key
Making sure your puppy gets enough exercise helps with elimination. Not to mention with mental and physical stimulation. If Riley hasn’t gone for awhile, a quick toss and chase of his ball usually helps to do the trick.
To Crate or Not to Crate
If you can’t keep 100% attention on your puppy, then you may want to enlist the help of a crate. That is after you’ve conditioned your puppy to associate good things with the crate. But if you’re going to use a crate, please make sure it’s for brief periods throughout the day. Crating your puppy all day is not house training. It doesn’t teach your puppy to learn self-control–it forces your puppy to hold its pee until you think to get him outside. Not the same thing.
I chose to bite the bullet and not use a crate. Maybe more work up front, but I believe you’ll make quicker progress and have more solid results in understanding. For example, just after two weeks, Riley understood well enough to go to the door himself, indicating that he wanted to go outside.
Nighttime House Training
I’m a “sleep with your dogs in the bedroom and even better with them on the bed.” I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m not judging if you don’t. It’s just what works for me.
But there’s also a practical reason for doing this with your puppy. You’ll more quickly hear and feel when they wake up and start moving around. And therefore be able to get them outside more quickly.
I have a soft dog carrier, kinda like a soft crate that’s very den-like. Riley loved it right away. By having him on the bed while in this, he could see me and feel my breath on him. There was nary a whimper or whine. He wasn’t stressed being separated from me and I didn’t have to worry about if I’d wake up because he was right there. So I haven’t experienced the common sleep deprivation that new puppy owners go through. It’s a win-win.
General knowledge suggests that House Training isn’t really considered complete until your dog makes it an entire month with no accidents in the house. General knowledge also suggests it can take up to six months to get there.
Riley has been here almost a month and he’s gone three weeks without an accident and knows to go to the door when he needs to go out. That’s not because he’s brilliant, although I think he is. And it’s not because I’m some kind of magician, because I’m not. It’s because consistency is everything and it matters enough to me to get this right as fast as possible, so I’m willing to put in the time and dedication. That and winter freezing temps are a good motivator.
How Long Does Puppy Potty Training Take?
That can vary considerably by breed, age, learning history, and your methods and consistency. An 8-week-old puppy is very different developmentally than a 5-month-old puppy. Some puppies will have perfect manners after just a few days. Others can take months, especially if the dog has had a less than an ideal situation. Expect accidents. It’s part of the process, but it’s important that going inside doesn’t become a habit. So, when in doubt, overcompensate. Double down on paying attention to the schedule and get them out more. Just keep reminding yourself, this too shall pass. (Pun intended.)