Spring has sprung here in Denver, and we are seeing lots of new babies for puppy training. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how to potty train a puppy. Here are the steps for a perfectly potty trained puppy in 10 days.
1. Get your puppy on a schedule: Puppies need to potty after waking up, after eating, and after playing. Set up a feeding routine (don't give free access to food all the time) and establish a 'quiet time' where your puppy will have an opportunity to rest (whether they want to or not!) so you know when they have to go. Take them out immediately after their rest period, and after vigorous play. You can set your timer on your smart phone to remind you of your puppy's schedule. Puppies can hold their bladder for about 2 to three hours at 8 weeks old during the day, and double that at night. Your 8 week old puppy needs to be let out at least once in the night, and several times through out the day. You can adjust the schedule according to the puppy's age by adding one hour per 2 weeks of age after 8 weeks. For planning purposes, most adult dogs cannot hold their bladder beyond 8 hours.
2. Supervise all puppy activity. Never let your puppy out of your direct line of sight while out of their crate and indoors. Puppies show signs of needing to go out by sniffing and circling. It will often appear as if they're looking for something. In addition to being super useful in potty training, supervision prevents chewing, and other bad behaviors from developing in our puppies.
3. Take your puppy out on a leash for each potty break. Don't let your puppy wander to find the perfect potty spot. Take them to where you want them to go, and then stand there, leash in hand, like your feet are stuck in cement. Tell your puppy to, "Go potty," and wait. After your puppy does their business, praise them, and give them a treat or play with them. Take them for a short walk. Do some kind of fun puppy activity. Potty, Praise, Play is the rule of thumb. This way, the puppy learns that the faster they go potty, the quicker they can start a fun activity.
4. If your puppy has an accident, find a large news paper or magazine. Roll it up tightly to form a baton. Hold it high above your head. Then swing down on top of your head with just enough force to remind yourself that you should have followed steps one through three!