Puppies will steal your heart, but you might experience buyer’s remorse the first time your little doggie goes potty on your brand new couch. With their tiny bladders and their unpredictable nature, puppies make more messes than a tumultuous toddler. Before you send your puppy packing, however, consider these 5 potty training techniques for your cute, but incorrigible new companion.
A regular feeding schedule: A regular feeding schedule can work wonders for predicting potty times. Do not withhold food from your dog, but try to give her “mealtimes” as you would yourself. Little dogs typically eat 2 or 3 times a day, which makes it easy to implement a “breakfast,” “lunch” and “dinner” feeding schedule.
After your dog eats, watch her closely. Try taking her out every ten minutes after she eats until she eliminates. Eventually, you will see patterns in your puppy’s potty habits and will be able to predict when your dog needs to go out.
Of course if your little doggie is exhibiting any tale-tell signs of having to go potty such as circling, sniffing, or pacing take her out as soon as possible. Do not worry about getting off-schedule. You want to establish a routine that is structured, but also one that is practical, as well.
Crate training: This housebreaking method may be a good option for owners who work and cannot constantly track their dog’s potty habits. Choose a crate that is only large enough for your dog to turn around in, in order to ensure she will not have accidents. Take your puppy potty before putting her in the crate, and immediately after letting her out of the crate.
Sometimes puppies can be trusted in larger confined spaces, such as a bathroom or laundry room. Try using one of these rooms as a “crate” if your dog doesn’t like being confined.
Association: Some puppies may not bark when they have to go outside. If this is the case, you may be waking up to a present on your welcome mat every morning. For a “silent signaler” tie a bell to a string and hang it on your doorknob. Before you take your dog outside, ring the bell to let her know it’s time for a potty break. Since dogs are associate learners, it won’t take long for your dog to nudge the bell with her nose when it’s time to go outside.
Infant diapers: It may be a bit unconventional, but some breeders are using disposable diapers as a house-breaking technique. Simply put a “preemie” diaper on your puppy and cut out a small hole for her tail. Unlike toddlers, dogs do not find diapers appealing for going potty. You will teach your little pup bladder control as she learns not to “doo-doo” as she pleases in your house.
Doggie litter boxes: Is your pup giving you the business rather than “doing the business?” If you have a tiny dog that prefers the comforts of your living room to the great outdoors no matter what you try, it may be time to consider using a litter box. They come in a variety of models and sizes to accommodate your pet’s needs.
A basic plastic pan costs around $20, and can be found on-line and in most pet stores. Covered litter boxes are a bit more expensive. They may be a good option however, for a “doogy diva” who likes being outside, but dislikes going outside. They are made of wood and have an artificial grass top for a natural feel. These more elaborate boxes start in the $200 price range. Visit doggysolutions.com for information on covered litter boxes.
Whichever method you try, remember to be consistent. Stick with one technique for at least 2 weeks before moving on to another one. If you find yourself getting stressed out, feel free to take a break. In time (and with lots of doggie treats) your dainty dog will start to surprise you. You’ll soon find yourself cleaning up fewer messes and having more time to enjoy your petite little pup.
Jennifer Gilbert is a freelance pet writer whose rambunctious Papillon, Kallie, is the inspiration behind many of her articles.