There are many articles on potty training. Some say that particular puppies will take months.
Most dog trainers know that isn’t true. And if you follow my instructions, your dog can be potty trained in less than a week.
But it will take work.
YOUR DOG’S GENETICS
Some breeds are easier to potty train than others, and there’s the individual dog to consider.
I owned a female Belgian Malinois/Dutch Shepherd cross that told me she had to urinate at eight weeks. I also trained a pug that was not potty trained at five months. However, I did potty training with that Pug in less than a week.
POTTY TRAINING CHART
The first thing to do is create a potty training chart. It can be on your phone or a hard copy. I prefer a sheet of paper on the table. It’s quicker, and others around can add to it.
Write down all the times your dog urinates and defecates. It will not always be the same, but after a few days, you will see trends. There will be apparent windows when your dog can hold his bladder longer or shorter.
For example, maybe after a meal, he drinks a lot of water and has to pee. But after he breaks down his food, he can go several hours without a bathroom break.
Logging when your dog eliminates lets you bring him out before he has an accident.
It seems foreign to many people to bring a dog out before telling the owner he has to go. But if he can go, he can learn to do it on command.
Think of it like your family is going on a trip.
Dad says, “everyone, make sure you use the restroom now!” A kid replies, “I don’t have to go that bad.” Dad replies, “ well, you better go now because we are not stopping for several hours.”
ADJUSTING YOUR DOG TO THE CRATE
A crate is a powerful tool in general. If your dog is not adjusted to the crate, you must do that immediately.
You can do it quickly with interval reward training. Throw treats in the crate every few seconds to keep him in there continuously for a full minute. After those first couple minutes in the cage, it gets easier.
CRATE FOR POTTY TRAINING
You can use the crate for a lot of things. For potty training, you use it when your dog doesn’t relieve himself outside.
Now that you have your potty training chart, you know when your dog is able to go out (when he’s not bursting at the seams).
WHEN TO USE THE CRATE
If your dog doesn’t go potty outside, he would enter the crate upon return.
When he would get the chance to back out would depend on what you’re doing.
For example, if you’re cooking a meal he may be in there for 15 more minutes. If you’re talking on the phone, 7 minutes.
HOW OFTEN WOULD YOUR DOG BE IN THE CRATE?
He would not be in the crate most of the time but yet more during this developmental period then in the near future.
You would bring him to his potty spot again. If he doesn’t take a leak, he should revisit the crate.
Without a crate this is the part where a puppy comes back in and peas on the floor. It seems out of spite, but it’s not.
The good news is that dogs naturally want to go potty outside. After the first outing your pup’s need to go has been triggered.
If he does take a leak outside, he would come in and have freedom (Freedom may be limited to where you prefer).
This is a strict plan but if you stick to it it will work! I had dog breeds that don’t bark, begging me to take them out!
… So stick to your guns!
MARK OUTSIDE AS YOUR GOAL
The crate teaches “don’t” and the treat teaches “do.”
TEACH YOUR DOG TO PEE ON COMMAND
When your dog accompanies you to the pee and poop area, say “do your business” or something similar, repeatedly. This will trigger the response after the first instance.
WHEN TO REWARD YOUR DOG FOR PEEING
When your dog starts peeing, praise him repeatedly. “Good boy” is a good choice because it can be prolonged, unlike “yes.”
As your dog’s wee or Caca comes to an end, position a treat at his nose. Don’t give him a chance to become distracted by sound or grass before giving him a treat.
The treat will become associated with the praise that preceded it.
LEADERSHIP IN POTTY TRAINING A DOG
As with all your decision making (as a pet parent) you should initiate when your dog uses the bathroom.
How would you know when he needs to go?
It wouldn’t make a difference because you he’d be on a regular schedule.
I should mention that that blows the minds of many of my new clients. FaceTime times remark “but I wouldn’t want him to wait that long.” Then I’d say “then bring him out as often as you like.”
So ditch the bell! And if your puppy is waiting at the door because he truly needs to go, let him.
PREDICT POTTY TIME WITH EXERCISE
Planned activity is often overlooked in potty training programs.
If it is a puppy you’re working with, the exercise should be limited to what they do naturally. But if The dog is older he can handle a vigorous style.
This makes using the “John” so easy I have to remember it with new students. I informed them that training is good but many dogs are under-exercised.
I teach them to play tug-of-war properly. And before you know it muscles are contracting.
Some dogs have not had that kind of exercise before (not that it was too much) and pooped on the floor.
The truth is, potty training is very easy. If you only remember these three things, you will still do well.
Write down your dog’s elimination times
Put him in the crate if he doesn’t go
Mark outside with a treat
Carlos Garcia, CFDT
Carlos is a Master Dog Trainer at Exclusive Dog Training LLC in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He trains dogs full-time.