I’m fairly certain “New Puppy” exams are one of the highlights of working in Vet Med. They are certainly one of my favorite parts of working in a practice. An adorable puppy, an excited new family, and a lifetime of adventure ahead make for an exciting appointment. However, just because puppy appointments are lots of fun doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done! One of the most common questions I have found that new pet owners ask is how to potty train their puppy, so I thought I would cover some training strategies here!
First, potty training takes time and will take longer for some puppies than it will for others. Patience is key! If your puppy has an accident in the house, don’t get upset, yell, or (worst case) put your puppy’s nose into the mess. This does not do anything constructive, and it may cause your pup to have an aversion to pottying in front of you which means they won’t potty anywhere if you are there. Instead of letting emotions get high, calmly and quickly remove your pup from the situation and take them outside to “try again.”
Next, utilize a crate! Crate training can be beneficial for all aspects of your pup’s life, and they should be exposed to a crate from a young age so they do not fear it later in life. Crating can help with potty training because being in a crate prevents your puppy from getting into things, pottying in the house, and forming destructive behaviors when you are not there to correct them. Of course, your pup should be let out at regular intervals until they develop the bladder control to stay in their crate for longer periods of time.
Finally, repetition is your friend! Bringing home a new puppy can seem like a huge change in your normal schedule, but it’s important to establish a routine as soon as you can. Decide when and how much you will feed your new pup and then commit to taking them out to potty 10-15 minutes after each feeding. You should also plan to take them out right before bed, right after waking up in the morning, and right after they wake up from naps during the day. Typically during waking hours your pup needs to go out at least every two hours.
As veterinary professionals, the public looks to us for advice and encouragement in many aspects of their pet’s lives. It’s up to us to remain current on relevant health and training topics! The potty training process can be difficult for many pet families to master and is a commonly asked question during many puppy exams.