Puppies are cute, lovable, cuddly and creatures of habit. That means that it is essential to start working on potty training as soon as you can to help establish a schedule that will continue for years to come.
Here are 3 Tips from Pets First Chicago that have helped many of our clients over the years and hopefully will help you to train your new puppy!
#1 - Keep a Schedule
A schedule! Dogs are creatures of habit, so if you provide certain, regular times for a potty break, it helps reinforce the knowledge that they will be able to relieve themselves. Puppies usually have to go out every few hours because they have teeny tiny bladders, so make sure you're giving them the opportunity. As they get older, you can slowly increase the time between potty breaks.
#2 - Positive Reinforcement
Speaking of reinforcing... positive reinforcement! High value treats that you only use for training - in this case, potty training - can be given when a puppy successfully goes to the bathroom outside to help create a positive connection. You can also combine this with cues, like "go potty," for later on as you taper off giving them treats every time they pee outside.
Negative reinforcement is not recommended. It can cause a negative association with eliminating if you're scolding them when it happens, and many puppies won't put two and two together if you scold them after the fact, meaning it just causes fear. Instead, if you catch them urinating or defecating in the house, interrupt them with a firm but otherwise calm "no, outside" and take them outside. If they go outside, be sure to positively reinforce it.
#3 - Regulate feeding and water
Remember we mentioned scheduling before? It's also good to have scheduled feeding and watering times! This will help regulate when they have to go, which in turn helps you come up with the best potty schedule. We usually recommend two to three meals daily for puppies; in regards to water, limit intake to during meal times and after play. A lot of puppies have limited impulse control, so they will drink and drink and drink until the cows come home. If you aren't sure you're providing the appropriate amount of food and water daily, give us a call - we're happy to help!