I was in Atlanta last Monday with a new Home Dog Training client helping her and her family with their 12-week-old Brittany Spaniel puppy.  Puppies are “brand new” and have normally been adopted out before their Doggie Mommie has been able to teach them all their “doggie stuff”. So, when it comes to “What do I need to teach him?”, the answer is “Everything”. 

Potty training your new puppy

Daphne, their Brittany Spaniel, had a great temperament and showed a strong ability to learn and obey her newly adopted family. As with all new puppies, I focused my lesson on appropriate behavior, socialization, and fundamental obedience.  All of these items helped establish the appropriate focus Daphne would have to provide my clients going forward.  On top of that, we spent a lot of time with Daphne’s potty training. This is what I would like to focus on today…

All puppies are cuddly and loveable.  All we want to do is to hold them and play with them and we believe that nothing they could do would ever bother us.  We can easily put up with some jumping and barking because, as I said, they are so cute.  What becomes bothersome very quickly is stepping in their poop on the living room carpet.  This instantly pushes Potty Training to our “A Priority” for our new puppy.

The initial question that you need to address in regard to “Toilet Training” is the method you will use to keep your new puppy from pottying on your carpet, sofa, etc. To correctly answer this question, you must be aware that there is more than one method when potty training.  Both methods will ultimately teach your new puppy not to potty on the carpet, furniture, etc., but one method will teach them to potty outside and the other will guide them to potty on Wee-Wee pads.

Even though both processes will “solve the problem”, picking the inappropriate method will cause challenges for you in the long run.  For example, if you successfully teach your puppy to use the Wee-Wee pad in the kitchen when he needs to potty and later decide you want him to potty in the back yard, reteaching him can often be extremely difficult to accomplish.

It is almost like teaching your child to write left-handed and then trying to have him switch to writing with his right hand. Besides teaching your new puppy a new process, you need to “unteach him” what he already knows.  It can be a long, uphill battle.

Robin and I have a standard list of questions and guidelines we often review with our clients with new puppies needing potty training.  These questions will often guide our clients into making the best decision regarding their puppy’s potty-training process.  We would like to review them with you:

1) BE AWARE OF HOW BIG YOUR PUPPY WILL BE AS AN ADULT: I like to use a general guideline that if a puppy will be 20 pounds or more when he reaches adulthood, teaching him to potty outside in the back yard or on a walk is the best way to go.  Even though you may do a really great job in training him to use the Wee-Wee Pads in the powder room or pantry, “big dog poopy” is never a great thing to have inside the house.  You really don’t want to experience “that smell” as you are on the sofa watching the game or sitting down for dinner.

 2) THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR SCHEDULE AND YOUR DOG’S BLADDER:  All of us can understand when I mention “the call of nature”.  With this concept now “bouncing around inside your head”, think about putting your dog in a situation where there is no way he won’t make an accident.  To be quite blunt, he can only “hold it for so long”.

If your schedule requires that you will be out of the house for ten or more hours and your dog will be left alone during that time, the call of nature will probably “ring”.  Based on your dog’s size, you are going to have to make accommodations.

If you have a dog that is going to be over twenty pounds when he reaches full size, we recommend that you hire a dog walker or ask a friendly neighbor to let your dog out in the middle of the day.  You could do the same thing with a small dog, but training him to go on Wee-Wee Pads would be easier and less expensive in the long run.

3) LIVING IN A HIGH-RISE:  Sometimes our bladder is “very impatient”.  All of a sudden “we get the urge” and the next message we get is “now!”. Our puppies and dogs will often get this same message.  The problem is that if we live in a high-rise and have a lot of steps to go down or a long elevator ride to take, “now” may happen in a location we really don’t want.  Even though we do our best, we don’t have enough time from “warning to wee-wee” to get outside.

Because of the “elongated travel time” associated with high-rise living, we always recommend Wee-Wee Pad training for small dogs (under 20 pounds when adults).  Even if you don’t live in a high rise, if the “travel time” is going to be over five minutes to get your dog to his “wee-wee spot, we recommend wee-wee pad training.

Living in a high-rise environment with a large dog requires extra vigilance.  As mentioned earlier, you don’t want your large dog pottying in your apartment or condo because of the smell.  This means you must be extra vigilant in your outside potty training.  You will have to watch them more often and engage in vigilant food and water management.

4) HAVING A SAFE OUTSIDE ENVIRONMENT:  This is a consideration that normally applies to smaller dogs.  If “the outside” of your home is a hectic, urban environment or there are no quiet, open places where you can take your dog to “do his business”, we recommend that you engage in Wee-Wee pad training.  An environment that contains cars racing by in the street, large crowds on the sidewalk, and loud noises (i.e. the downtown of large cities) can be very unnerving for even the most well-trained dog; small or large.  If your dog is scared, they probably aren’t going to want to go potty.

Please understand that none of these guidelines should completely negate another.  Think of them as a list of suggestions that you should consider as a whole when determining the appropriate Potty Training program for your new puppy.

I have done a great deal of talking about “the two Potty Training processes”.  I would now like to briefly review the two processes for you.

a) TAKING YOUR DOG OUTSIDE TO POTTY: I normally encourage most of our clients to train their dogs to potty outside. This is a process that is centered around management and scheduling.  This process requires our clients to consistently manage their dog’s actions and nutrition. Based on the control and management they have built; they can then establish their dog’s potty schedule.

I almost always find that Potty Training Outside is quicker to complete than Wee-Wee Pad Training.  This is because my clients have far more control over the process.  Their objective is to ascertain their dog’s potty schedule through repetitive observation, management, and adjustment.

b) POTTYING INSIDE ON WEE-WEE PADS: Although my “second favorite” method of potty training, this is often well suited for small dogs. As I just mentioned, the Potty Training Outside method is based on the schedule. The difference with Wee-Wee Pad Training is that it is determined by environment.  The goal in this training is to associate the Wee-Wee pad as the one and only place your dog ever wants to go to the bathroom.

Wee-Wee Pad training requires a far more passive methodology than Outside Potty training.  You must gradually allow your dog to “understand” that the Wee-Wee Pad is their toilet.  The passive nature of this training means that it normally takes longer to successfully achieve.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 great dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.