We got Barrett when he was barely eight weeks old. We thought he was 12 weeks, but after looking at his teeth, the vet estimated that he was approximately a month younger than that. That means he probably went to his first home at around 5 weeks, which was way too early. Getting Barrett at such a young age did have its advantages because although he had been with another family prior to us, he hadn’t had a chance to pick up any potential bad habits, and we could train him the way we wanted.
Because my two family dogs are both pretty spoiled and have picked up bad habits throughout the years, I went into Barrett’s training with strict rules and determined to train him to be a perfectly behaved pup (Delusional dog mom).
First thing on my to-do list was to ensure that Barrett was trained to go to the bathroom outside. In our first couple of weeks he had a few accidents but I started to learn his schedule, he started to learn mine, and we began to fall into a rhythm.
We went on many walks- both short and long. We stood outside every morning at some time between 4-6am. I hung a bell on our back door so he could ring it when he wanted to go out… and finally, Barrett was housebroken. He has had maybe 2 accidents in the apartment since November… and both of those were my fault– he was by the door and he had to go and I wasn’t on it to take him out in time.
So, without further ado, my tips on puppy potty-training. (Disclaimer: I am not a dog trainer- these are tips that worked for me but I honestly don’t know if it was just luck)
- Start by taking the puppy out frequently. If he/she goes to the bathroom, keep track of when that happened and try to develop a timeline of how often bathroom breaks need to happen.
- REWARD REWARD REWARD– carry treats in your pocket. The second puppy goes to the bathroom where he/she is supposed to- treat the heck out of the pup- this also includes cheering praises and looking ridiculously excited.
- Accidents- if you see puppy going inside, say NO forcefully, pick puppy up, and run him outside. If he does his business outside, repeat step 2. I am a firm believer in not scolding a dog for an accident that you didn’t see happen- I really don’t think he will know what he did wrong or why you are upset.
- Crate training- from night one, Barrett slept in his crate. I put him to bed when I went to bed. When I left him in the apartment, he was put in his crate with a treat. This eliminated the issue of him finding a spot to go to the bathroom somewhere in the apartment.
- Middle of the night bathroom run- From night one through about 2 months into having Barrett, I woke up at some time between 4am-5:30am, picked sleepy puppy up out of his crate, and took him outside to pee. Every. Single. Night. We developed a routine: he would go to the bathroom fairly quickly and then I would take him back inside… to sleep in my bed with me. He caught on that if he went to the bathroom, he got to sleep in the big bed.
All of these tricks worked well in my quest to potty-train Barrett. He has since graduated from night-time crating and I only put him there when he’s in the apartment by himself.
I would love to hear any puppy-training tips you might have (so I can store them for reference if puppy #2 becomes a possibility!)