Potty training a puppy (also known as house training) is training your puppy to use a designated toilet area either in the garden or in the home. This process can begin when the puppy is around 8 weeks old. Depending on where you purchased your puppy from, some puppies are already somewhat housetrained. If your puppy isn’t house trained, you can start encouraging them to use a specific area as soon as you bring them home.
There is no scientifically proven time frame for potty training a puppy. Successful house training depends on your puppy’s age, their breed and how you approach the training process. To make potty training as fast and efficient as possible, the following factors are essential:
There are different approaches to conducting house training. Which one you choose depends on your own personal preferences, but we highly recommend researching all available approaches before deciding which one will suit you and your lifestyle. Essentially, there are two styles of potty training.
Where you live will have an impact on which approach you choose. If you live in an apartment, you could choose either option. If you live in a property with access to a garden, your approach may be slightly different if you ultimately want your puppy to use a designated outdoor area once fully trained.
Pee pads are generally 30cm x 30cm square pieces of absorbent pads that soak up waste. They usually contain some form of ammonia which your puppy recognizes as a place to eliminate. They are cheap, mostly effective and a great way to introduce your pup to using a specific toilet area.
However, we’ve noticed that puppies occasionally like to chew on them. If left unsupervised, your pup can shred these pads into tiny little pieces that you will find all over!
A disadvantage of using pee pads is that once your pup learns to go in that particular spot, they are likely to always recognize that spot as their toilet area. It’s a good idea to get them to focus on the pad rather than the area. You can do this by having more than one pad available, and rewarding them each time they eliminate on the pad.
Our preferred method to potty train our puppies is using a crate. We’ve experimented with using both pee pads and crates over the years. So far, crate training has been the most efficient way to house train a puppy. Dogs do not like to make a mess of their dens. If you can train them to use the crate as their den, you will very quickly be able to house train them.
When new puppy owners ask us how long it takes to potty train a puppy, we immediately recommend crate training. You can house train your pup in a matter of weeks! Crate training is especially useful if you are not able to be at home with your puppy all day.
Your ability to persevere with training is a key component to quickly potty train your puppy. If you follow a consistent routine with specific actions, your puppy will very quickly learn the desired behaviour because they know what happens next.
Once they know what is expected of them, they can remember the next step in the sequence. In this case it means ‘I pee in this area = I get a treat”. Puppies like routine. Especially in those first few months at home! Being consistent means you are able to firmly settle the routine in their minds.
Never use violence to train your puppy. The most successful way to approach training is by using positive reinforcement. When they behave correctly, they are rewarded with a treat. When they do not behave correctly, they do not get a treat. This is a very simple method to leverage your puppies self-interests i.e food. Violence and punishment can instil fear in into your puppy and may slow down the training process.
Make use of incentives, treats and play time to reward your puppy. It is the most effective method to train them. They are positively motivated to get what they want by carrying out the desired actions. Once your puppy knows that they will be rewarded for good behaviour, they will very quickly learn to do what is being asked of them. Respect your puppy’s individual development and ability to learn. This way, you will form a healthy relationship with them that will last a lifetime.
As you can see from these factors, each puppy will be different. How long it takes to potty train a puppy is unique to each dog, but you can speed up the process. Plan, implement and revise the training as they grow. Be gentle with your puppy, and yourself. You are both learning about each other. Make training fun, happy and positive – and your puppy will be settled into their new home in no time at all!