Potty Training Milestones and Setbacks: What to Know


Bringing a new puppy home is so much fun, but no one looks forward to potty training. Whether you’ve got an obedient pooch or a headstrong puppy, potty training is never easy and it’s never without setbacks.

Let’s talk about some of the most common puppy potty training hurdles and how to get over them.

Hurdle 1: You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

Dogs go potty for two reasons: to eliminate waste from their tiny puppy bodies and to mark their territory against other dogs. Understanding the dual elements of their urge to go will help you communicate better! Remember that during the early stages of potty training, your dog will need constant supervision because immediate positive feedback works. It will take about 4-6 months before your puppy is consistently going outside rather than inside, and some dogs take up to a year to become fully potty trained.

Hurdle 2: You’re Unable to Supervise Your Puppy Constantly
Most pet owners can’t commit to supervising their puppy full time for 6-12 months…it’s just not realistic! That’s why crate training is recommended by most dog experts. Introducing her to a crate as a safe, neutral space will condition her to avoid “going” when she’s in it. Never use crating as a punishment as your dog may learn to associate it with negative emotions. When you can’t supervise your puppy, leaving her in her crate for a few hours is a great way to build up her ability to hold her waste.

Hurdle 3: Your Puppy Goes in Her Crate…and It’s a Mess!

We know, we know. This is the worst part of potty training. It’s important to understand the limitations of your puppy’s ability to hold her bladder and stool. Depending on the size and age of your dog, she may only be able to hold it for 2 hours or so at first. Eventually that time will stretch out, but try to either be there to take her out often or have a dog caretaker let her out of her crate a few times a day the first month or two after you bring her home. You may want to keep her crate near your bedroom so you can hear her rustling in the night; it’s possible she’ll need to be let outside in the wee hours for those first few weeks, too. She won’t like being in her crate with a mess, either, so she’ll figure it out!

Hurdle 4: Your Pet’s Poops and Pees are Totally Unpredictable
As your pet gets a little older, her potty schedule should become relatively predictable. Very young puppies under about 4 months can stand to eliminate urine every two hours or more, and typically poo about two to three times a day. As your puppy gets bigger, so will her waste. By the time she’s about 6 months old she should be able to “hold it” for as much as 7 hours at a time, but expect accidents to happen. The best way to make your puppy’s pottying more predictable is to put her on a schedule: eating, walking, and playing should happen at roughly the same time each day so her body learns what to expect.

Hurdle 5: Your Dog Goes Inside and Seems Ashamed
Although it’s heartbreaking (and frustrating) to watch your scared pooch use the potty inside, her shame means she understands the concept of potty training. Remember: positive reinforcement works best, so be proactive by regularly taking her outside to go and when she does, shower her with praise! Be very consistent about using a specific phrase to encourage her to go such as, “Go potty!” A firm, “No!” is fine when she goes on the rug, but immediately taking her outside to finish and praising her when she does is a step in the right direction.

Hurdle 6: You Stepped on Poo! Inside!
That’s ruff. Potty training isn’t all up to your pooch; it’s your responsibility to learn her signals, too. Puppies let us know they need to go outside in different ways…some scratch at the door, some walk in circles, and some dip into a hidden room for some privacy. Learn the signs your dog exhibits just before she goes to the bathroom so you can scoop her up and take her outside before “disaster” strikes. That way, she’ll go where she’s supposed to and you’ll have another opportunity for praise!

Dogs potty train at different rates, and it’s important to remember your pooch may not get the hang of it as quickly as others. Even once your dog is almost fully potty trained, it’s fair to expect accidents. Even human children still occasionally wet the bed well after they’re out of diapers.

It’s crucial to remember that puppies are just babies, and they’re taking in a lot of stimulus at once. For them, potty training is just part of the puzzle. A little love, a lot of patience, and consistent rewards are all you need to get your puppy well on her way to using the potty when and where you want her to.

Are you currently potty training? Good luck from your friends at DogVacay!



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