Saturday, January 8, 2011

Potty Time

Potty training is a common obstacle when raising a puppy, specifically with a small breed.  There are some tools and rules that can help.

First of all, it is recommended that you practice crate training.  Corralling a puppy in a kitchen as opposed to a crate isn't often effective.  The kitchen is still part of the house, and puppies can't distinguish the kitchen from any other part of the house, so if it's OK to potty in the kitchen, then it's OK to potty in any other part of the house.

You will need to purchase a crate that will suit your dog at maturity so that your growing puppy doesn't grow out of his crate.  Most giant crates come with a divider panel that you can adjust as your puppy grows.  Keeping your puppy crated during the night and while you are gone will keep any potential mess contained.  Also, since most dogs do not appreciate soiling their sleeping area, a crate encourages them to hold it until they can go outside.  However, holding too long can be harmful.  Puppies, depending on the age, need to be let outside to potty OFTEN, and yes, that means during the NIGHT too!  Generally, all puppies need to potty first thing in the morning, as soon as they wake up from any nap, during play time, and right after they eat.

When letting your puppy out of the crate to go potty it is important not to excite your puppy before you are able to get them outside, otherwise they may not make it to the back yard.  Giving a command like "pee-pee"
 or "potty" is usually a good cue to get them to know what is expected of them.  As soon as they deliver, praise and treat them.  ***This time of year when it's very cold can be challenging for potty training.  Remember to give them the time necessary to get the job done.  Rushing because we want to get inside can lead to accidents.

It's also very important to not allow yourself to become lax!  We often think that our puppies are 100% potty trained by a young age, but this is when "accidents" begin to happen because owners let their guard down.  Generally, most medium-large breeds will need potty training until 12 months of age or older.  Small breeds tend to take even longer.  Of course, this isn't a rule, just an observed average.  Most puppies end up continuing crate training up to two years of age or longer simply to prevent destructive behavior, and this reinforces potty training.

So remember, the hardest part of potty training is self-discipline and being consistent with your puppy.  Happy potty training!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

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