If you have a new puppy in your home one of the first things you want to accomplish is potty train your puppy. No one wants their home to smell like a kennel and constantly cleaning up potty accidents after a puppy gets annoying and stressful.

Most dog owners know that puppies don’t understand that they have done anything wrong. It is their natural instinct to potty when they need to. The connection between the brain of a puppy and the bladder and bowel doesn’t really start to mature until closer to 4 months of age. So puppies have to be taught potty training. Here are some tips that will make this easier for you:

  1. Do not free feed your puppy. What does this mean? Simply this: feed your puppy on a schedule 3 times per day. Give a measured amount of food at each feeding. Pick up the food after 10 minutes whether the puppy is done eating or not. What does this accomplish? You can determine the exact amount of food the puppy has eaten, you know when the puppy has eaten, which in turn, will help you determine when it’s potty time for your puppy.
  2. Remember that young puppies will always have to go potty at these times: immediately upon waking in the morning or waking up from a nap. After playing and about 5 minutes or less after eating.
  3. Do not scold your puppy for accidents. It does absolutely no good to come upon an accident, go get your puppy, rub his nose in it then scold him. Puppies/dogs only understand correction or praise within 1.0 to 1.5 seconds of doing the behavior. Rubbing their noise in it is a confrontational move on your part and not the way you want to train your puppy.
  4. When you absolutely cannot watch your puppy, confine him to a small gated space in your home or crate him.

What about overnight accidents? A puppy is best kept in a small indoor crate or pen at night until they are old enough to hold off the need to potty for several hours at a time. Also, avoid feeding or having your puppy drink lots of water right before bedtime and do not put food or water in their crate with them at night. Take the puppy out immediately before crating them for the night. And remember the rule of thumb: for every month old a puppy is, generally speaking, that’s the number of hours they can hold it. Plan on getting up during the night with your puppy. Yes, it’s inconvenient but it’s your responsibility to train this puppy right.

Again, whatever you do, never resort to physical punishment when your puppy has an accident. Puppies haven’t learned a good potty routine yet and they wouldn’t know why they are being punished. What they will know, is you’re not safe.

These tips will help reduce the number of accidents in your home over a short period of time. The most important thing to remember is to start training your puppy as soon as you bring him home. Behaviors are much easier to change when a puppy is still young.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children, and remember “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010