Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I find it very interesting what child rearing books I read that relate so much to my dog training.  I've been training dogs much longer than I have been raising a kid, so it all comes full circle at times.  It also inspires me to write my blog posts for my lovely followers.

I think potty training is one of the issues with dogs that I find to be so incredibly simple yet so many people have unreliably trained dogs in this area.  My daughter is 2 years old and I sat down and read a whole potty book yesterday to find out how to potty train a human being.  Interesting, sounds just like a puppy!

As I read the short booklet I sat it down and thought to myself--the fact is that people are lazy.  A dog that potties on the floor after 6 months of age without telling you he has to go out is not potty trained.  He also should be completely potty trained.  Please keep in mind this entire article is only referring to dogs that are healthy and have no medical reasons to have poor potty habits.  If your dog has been cleared of medical reasons for not potty training there should be no reason that your dog isn't fully trained at 6 months of age.  (I highly recommend a full urinalysis or urine culture done by a veterinarian if your dog is older than 6 months and is not potty trained.) 

To be quite honest, the majority of dogs can be fully potty trained by 16-20 weeks of age.  There are a few breeds that potty train quickly and others that take some real dedication.  Great Danes and other giant breeds tend to potty train in about a week.  I thought this was just ludicrous until I got my Great Dane.  He was sitting by the door reliably at 10 weeks of age.  He took me a week, it was crazy.  I had read that on all of the Great Dane websites but really didn't believe it until it happened to me.  On the other hand, some giant dogs such as the Bernese Mountain dogs and Greater Swiss Mountain dogs take a lot of time and patience to potty train.  Also, some terriers take longer.  Jack Russell Terriers can take quite some time and patience.  But hey, if you own a Jack Russell you should be chock full of time and patience for everything, not just potty training, or forget having that breed altogether!  But, still, if you are really consistent and follow all the right steps even those harder breeds should be potty trained reliably rather quickly.

The bottom line for successful potty training is dedication, time and patience.  The ideal way is to get a puppy during a stay-cation (vacation but you are at home) or if you can take about one week off of work to dedicate your days to potty training your puppy.  I know this isn't possible for everyone, and you can obviously still get it done properly without doing that.  However, this is a great way to jump start great potty habits with a new puppy.

Just like my toddler's potty book says, you have to also do this with a puppy to ensure success--don't let them out of your sight until it's safe.  Take them to the potty often to prevent accidents and be sure that each elimination is done in the appropriate location.  Praise heavily, but appropriately, for each elimination in the appropriate location.  Verbal praises work out great.  I don't even recommend using food for this for a reward, just a sincere obvious verbal joy and praise.  If you use rewards such as food, use the lowest value that your puppy will accept and still pair it with verbal praise and petting.

If you can't watch your puppy put him in his crate where he is quite unlikely to eliminate.  If he's eliminating in the crate first ask yourself if you are taking him out often enough?  Was he able to empty out before going into the crate?  Was in there too long?  Was there soft substrate (blankets, towels, bed or even a stuffed toy) that could absorb elimination so that puppy doesn't have to lie directly in it?

When your puppy is having accidents in the house the most common problem is that he wasn't supervised properly.  You cannot let your puppy out of your sight.  Young puppies should go out every 30-60 minutes, increasing the time by 15-20 minutes per week until he's more reliable for longer periods.

Potty training a dog is easy, it just takes you being able to put down your iPhone and pay attention.  Be consistent.  Don't let too much time lapse between breaks.  And don't feel bad about placing the puppy in a crate if you cannot watch him constantly while he's got free-run of the room (I say room because no puppy should ever have free-run of the house!)

If you have a puppy that needs help with potty training let me know.  If you have an adult dog that is having potty issues first go for a full blood panel and urine culture at your veterinarian's office, then call me and we can discuss ways to start teaching your dog the proper elimination areas.

New Year's Resolution #17: Potty train the dog--Check 


  1. potty training a semi feral dog is always fun... you can't grab them and take them outside - you probably can't catch them and even if you did you've probably scared them so badly they won't pee or poop for a while. ;)

  2. I'm so glad Jake is doing better!