Potty training a puppy or new rescue is not easy. It takes dedication, consistency and lots and lots of patience. As dog parents ourselves, we know avoiding mistakes can save you a ton of time in the long run, not to mention lead to better results. Here’s 5 common potty training mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Not Using a Crate or Kennel
Puppies need constant supervision—it’s both essential to properly training a pup, and a natural part of their maturing process (in nature puppies were traditionally guided around by older members of the pack). All of which is to say that a crate or kennel is an important tool for training young dogs, including potty training. By helping channel your dog’s natural instinct to keep their living space free of accidents, a crate can really speed up the house training process. Remember: the more accidents your pup has in the house, the more likely they are to use the bathroom inside again. Kennels can also be instrumental in helping pups develop their “hold time” between bathroom breaks.
Expecting Too Much Too Soon
Consistency is arguably the most important element in house training a new pup. Because it can take up to several months to fully potty train a dog, patiently sticking to your training routine is absolutely essential. It’s not uncommon for new puppy parents to experience a few days or weeks without accidents and then prematurely assume their puppy is house trained. But by breaking the repetition of your routine too soon, you can undo lots of the work you’ve put in to train your fur baby. Until you’ve had a month or two without accidents, chances are your pup isn’t quite house broken yet. If you stay consistent and keep using positive reinforcement, you’ll get there before you know it.
Not Properly Cleaning up Accidents
Not thoroughly cleaning up accident stains can come back to bite you in the long run. Simply cleaning up an accident until it’s no longer visible is not always sufficient. Our pups have powerful noses, and if they can still smell an accident spot, there’s a good chance they’ll revisit that area when they need to potty again. To prevent that from happening, trade in the traditional soap-and-water for a deodorizing enzyme-based cleaner. Also, avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as such formulas can actually mimic the scent of urine, which will likely cause you more headaches in the future.
Using Potty Pads
Unless you’re limited by living in a high rise or have mobility concerns, potty pads are probably not a good idea. In fact, they can actually prolong or interrupt the potty training process. Potty pads have a way of confusing our pups by establishing a routine that says it’s OK to potty indoors sometimes. Oftentimes puppy parents will notice that when they remove the potty pads, their pup continually has accidents where the pads used to be. This is because the dog has been taught that a certain space indoors—where the potty pads were located—is fine for elimination. If you’re hoping for a speedy potty training experience, skip the pads.
Punishing for Accidents
This is the big one. This is the mistake almost every puppy parent makes at some point, and it’s the one that can be most damaging to your dog and their training. Keep in mind, your puppy is brand new to the world, accidents are going to happen. Rubbing your dog’s nose in urine or feces or spanking them isn’t going to make accidents happen less often. Such actions will likely only serve to confuse or scare your dog. Remember: our pups have short term memories and they’re unlikely to connect such disciplinary measures with the accident they had a few minutes ago. Positive reinforcement that incorporates praise and reward is the best approach to a well-trained puppy.
Bonus Tip (Use a Bell)!
One of our favorite potty training tips here at Cedarcide is simple and easy: Use a bell. By hanging a bell on the door and training your pup to use it you’ll always know when your dog needs a bathroom break. Check out this link for more info on using this strategy