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Puppy Potty Training: or, Dogs and Paper Work

Obviously, the first thing you want your dog to learn is how not to leave messes around the house. Potty training is priority number 1.

Indoor puppy potty training instructions and advice

This page is about those of you who will teach your puppy where to use the bathroom inside the house.

If you’re more interested in teaching your puppy to hold their doody duties until they go outside, read about puppy house training, which uses crate training methods.

Whichever method you use, the first thing to know is – relax.  Puppy potty training isn’t difficult and there’s no reason for it to be stressful.

You may have read a hundred different methods for puppy potty training, and the simple truth is – most of them probably work! So long as they teach your dog.

That’s all puppy potty training is – it’s just a matter of teaching your willing student what’s right and wrong. As such, it’s going to take some repetition and time, but there’s no voodoo involved.

Before you follow these puppy potty training instructions, a few rules for the trainer.

Remember that puppy potty training, is training. Your puppy doesn’t know these things until he’s taught, enough times that it sticks.

The method I’m about to describe for puppy potty training, works great. I’ve used it on Beagles, Terriers, and Doberman Pinschers – willful little beasts, all of them! Just follow the steps closely and consistently until you get the results you want.

Key Tips Behind My Puppy Potty Training Method:

  • Start this puppy potty training program ASAP. Every day that you wait, is a day when your puppy is learning habits on his own.
  • Follow the plan step by step. Especially remember: don’t punish your dog or scold him for making mistakes. Causing fear and anxiety only makes puppy potty training harder to do.
  • Don’t let your puppy be free to roam the house until potty training is complete.
  • Your puppy will avoid going potty near his water, food, and bed. Keep that in mind.
  • Always reward your puppy for “getting it right.” Love, affection and treats are highly valued in your puppy’s mind, and he’ll want to earn them.
  • Expect potty training to be a matter of either days, or even a few weeks. Take your time so that your dog learns each step of the potty training method – don’t rush it, or it won’t work.

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Now, The Puppy Potty Training Method:

Remember, this is for indoor restroom activities – see the links at the top of this page if you’re trying to teach outdoor habits. This method works whether you buy a WizDog Indoor Dog Toilet, or just lay down paper and cardboard.

  1. Pick the spot where your dog’s indoor potty activities will happen. The best choice is a tiled or vinyl floor.
  2. Get lots and lots of newspaper – you’re going to be going through this stuff fast. I liked to use cardboard underneath that newspaper, but if you use enough layers of newspaper (or butcher’s paper) that’s fine too. Spread several layers of newspaper out in the target area.
  3. When your puppy uses this area to go to the bathroom, instantly issue the praise and love. By instantly, I mean say “good dog! Oh good good dog!” even while he’s doing it, and not more than a few seconds after.
  4. Clean up the paper and replace it EXCEPT keep one sheet of slightly-soiled paper on top. Position the soiled spot in the exact place where you want your dog’s toilet to be. (Put this spot as far as possible away from his food, water and bedding.)
  5. Over time, gradually shrink the space you cover with paper. At first, you wanted the whole room covered; after he’s starting to get the idea, the coverage should gradually shrink. Reduce this area slowly over a period of days. If mistakes happen outside of the puppy potty training target area, increase the coverage again.
  6. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you only need an area that’s as big as your dog’s messes. At that point, you have a few options, such as buying an indoor dog toilet, moving the paper towards the door so you can eventually house train your dog, etc. The point is, your dog has now learned that there is a right place to use the bathroom!

During obedience training, socialization and play time, etc – make sure you bring your puppy back to the potty training area once every half hour.

What to do - and what not to do - about a mistake, during puppy potty training

If your puppy makes a mistake and you catch him in the act, this is what to do: Just make an unhappy sound. Think of an “eek!” or “oh no!” It should sound as if the puppy has caused you pain.

The puppy should stop what he’s doing and look at you. Pick him up and move him to the potty training space. If he then finishes his business on the paper, heap praise and love on him.  Never rub your dog’s nose in their messes!

Puppy potty training truly is simple and straightforward. Memorize those do’s and don’ts. For all the rest of your dog training needs, I suggest you pick up “Secrets to Dog Training” It’s comprehensive, humane, and very effective.

Return to training a dog or training a puppy.

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