How to Potty Train a Puppy

Bringing home your new puppy can be an exciting and joyous time for everyone involved. One of the very first things you will be doing with your new canine companion is building trust, beginning obedience training and of course house training so that he can live as a happy and welcomed family member within your home. Potty training should not be as stressful as it may seem, and you most certainly never have to punish your puppy for a misplaced potty accident! Preventing mistakes and helping your dog to learn what you do want him to do instead of punishing unwanted behavior leads to a lifelong reliable potty habit!

Prevention

When we speak of prevention, we mean that your puppy should not be given the opportunity to potty outside of his designated potty place, be it a puppy pad, litter box or outdoors. Prevention includes keeping your puppy contained in a safe and properly sized crate, playpen or quiet room whenever you cannot keep your eyes on him at all times. Doing this keeps him from being able to potty on your floor or furniture, and thus potty mistakes are reduced if not prevented completely.

However, to make sure he also never potties in his confined space it is up to you to make sure he is able to relieve himself as often as he needs. He should be given potty breaks and taken directly to his potty place every 40 minutes to 1 hour, about 20 minutes after eating or drinking, directly after all play and training sessions, first thing when he wakes up and last thing before bed. If you remove food and water from his reach within 4 hours of bed time and he is allowed to eliminate before sleep then he should sleep throughout the entire night without needing another potty break. With consistency, this popular potty schedule will enforce a habit in him, making his needs predictable and easy to manage.

Prevention also means cleaning up any messes that have happened. According to Shelly, if your puppy makes a potty mistake, rubbing his nose in it, yelling at him, hitting him, or making him go into his crate are all punitive consequences that can directly harm, if not completely break, the trust he has in you. Furthermore, dogs simply do not understand this form of learning the way a human does. He will not associate his potty action with your anger, but he will associate you with the pain or punishment that you give him. Clean up any mess with an enzymatic cleaner and consider how he was given the chance to make this mistake. Did you ignore his body language giving the signs that he needed to go, or were you not paying attention? Perhaps he was out of your sight for a short time and that is when it occurred. Find the mistake and fix it to prevent further problems.

Rewards

It was B.F. Skinner, the famous scientist who discovered that behavior that was rewarded with a primary reinforcer, such as food, is more likely to happen again than behavior that was nor rewarded. Likewise, he found that behavior that was punished did happen on occasion but not as often as if nothing occurred afterward. Through his proven research we are able to correctly and easily train our new puppies that relieving themselves in their designated area is a rewarding behavior.

If you reward your puppy for doing his business in the correct place, then praise and a reward will tell him that what he did was correct and it brought along something he desired, such as food or play. While he begins to associate his need to potty with going to his potty place, he will develop a behavior that lets you know he needs to go. This will take some observation skills on your part, as no two puppies ask to go in the same way all the time. For instance, your puppy may bark, whine or scratch at the door when he needs to go. Another may paw at his leash, as he associates the leash with going out. When he is taken to his place and relieves himself, he will associate this behavior with the rewards that follows. In time, just going potty is a self reinforcing behavior all on it’s own for the relief he gets when he goes and the association he has been conditioned for with going in the right place.

Be patient with your puppy during this process. Work on training at his own pace but stick to your schedule. Your consistency in his potty and meal schedule will speed up his house training process substantially. Keep in mind that young puppies are not able to hold it for long as their bodies are still developing. This is why it is so important that you are the one who takes him at the right times, so he will never become comfortable doing his business in the house. With adamant consistency, your puppy will potty in the right spot every time!

Dogs That Don’t Shed

A very popular and common request heard coming from people in search of their perfect canine companion is that they wish for a dog who does not shed! Heavy shedders and even dogs with a moderate shed can cause havoc on our vacuum cleaners and our sinuses as we breathe in their floating hair follicles in the air.

All Shapes and Sizes

The non-shedding dog breeds are also consider “hypoallergenic” in nature. They truly come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and even instinctual drives. As these breeds were created for a variety of tasks from hunting to companionship, each one will come with his very own personality and quirks. Don’t judge a dog based on his coat type alone, though, as the breed under that hair is also vital to your new relationship being successful.

One of the most common non-shedding dog breeds is the Poodle. This dog comes in 4 different sizes; the standard, the moyen, the miniature, and the toy. While they are all of the same breed, their size can play a role in the instincts and drives that they carry with them. Over the years the smaller Poodles were being bred for their size, health, and temperament and their work ability has been virtually bred out of them. The standard Poodle however may still carry with him the instincts to hunt and retrieve as his ancestors were created to do. This breed can have a variety of hair styles from the working dog cut to the show style, and vary rarely some owners will allow their Poodle’s fur to become corded, in which it looks like dread locks!

Other common non-shedding breeds are:

  • Maltese dogs are small and commonly white. They were bred specifically to be constant and loving little companions, charming humans with their sweet and playful personalities.
  • Lhasa Apso dogs are another small dog breed that was bred to be both watch dogs and pets. Their personalities are often reserved towards strangers as they remain loyal to their owners.
  • Schnauzers have a more wire coat than the soft long or curly hair as other long hair breeds. They also come in 4 sizes; giant, standard, miniature and toy.
  • Yorkshire Terriers are small dogs that can weigh between 4 and 15 pounds as adults. Their silky fur is very fine, soft, and must be brushed at least daily to prevent tangles.
  • Italian Greyhounds are a smaller breed than the Greyhound but looks almost incidental. Their very short, very thin coat means they virtually do not shed.

Mixed Breeds

Aside from these purebred dogs, there are purposefully bred mixed breeds that can also fit the bill of a non-shedding dog. These are typically dogs that have been crossed with a Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier or Shih Tzu. These dogs include, but are not limited to the Labradoodle, Aussiedoodle, Yorkie-poo, and Teddy Bear. These dogs all have the constantly growing hair that must be cut or clipped at some point, but most do not need it as often as their purebred parents. For example, a purebred Poodle may need to be clipped every 6 weeks while the Labradoodle can be allowed to be clipped only every 4 months. These mixed breeds tend to have a look of their very own that allows the owner to decide how they can look; shaggy or neatly clipped.

Even with the slack in how often they need to get a hair cut, these dogs will still need to be brushed every day. Dogs with this hair type that are not brushed often develop hard to deal with tangles and mats. When not taken care of, a mat or tangle can grow large quickly, pull the hair on the dog and cause rips in the skin. The matted fur allows bacteria to infect the skin tears as well as fungus from built up moisture to grow. This leads to a very painful and very dangerous situation for for a dog, so daily brushing is a much needed preventative measure for the health of your non-shedding pet.

If you are considering a non-shedding breed for your next canine companion, consider the work that may be needed in his grooming as well as the other requirements for any breed you wish to bring home. Mixed breeds can have their own special requirements in comparison to purebreds, but you should consider your lifestyle and ability to care for a non-shedding dog before you make one your next best friend!