The key to all types of puppy training is consistency. The next component is patience. Lots of it. Potty training a puppy to use papers is much like house-training with an important difference. You can train your youngster to use a paper rather than, or in addition to, relieving himself outdoors. As with any type of training, it needs to begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. Teaching a dog to go potty on papers works well for small breed dogs. This may be important for many reasons, especially if the dog is primarily an indoor pet. Also, it may be difficult for some people to take their dog outside as in the case of the elderly or infirm, in case of illness of the animal, for pet parents who work long hours, or for those who reside in cities without easily accessible green space.
- Designate an obscure area with easy to clean flooring. A bathroom, mudroom or laundry room are good choices. Cover the chosen spot with layers of newspaper. In the beginning make the layers thick and cover a large area. As your puppy gets the hang of what is expected of him, reduce the amount of papers a little at a time.
- During training keep your puppy confined within his potty area to minimize “accidents” and to make clean-up easier.
- Take your puppy to the potty place on a regular schedule. Say his name and use a key phrase every time, such as “Go potty.”
- The younger the puppy, the more frequently he will need to potty. A puppy less than twelve weeks of age will not be able to hold his bladder for long intervals.
- Always visit the paper first thing in the morning, after each meal, after a nap and immediately following exercise. A potty break right before bed is crucial, and remember he will need to go 2 to 3 times during the night while he is very young.
- After removing soiled papers place a slightly soiled one on top of the clean papers to teach the puppy to return to the same spot.
- Following each successful visit praise your pup lavishly and provide a treat for reinforcement.
- Each week utilize less space for the potty until you have reduced the amount of paper to the desired small area your puppy prefers to use.
Use a white vinegar and water solution to clean the potty area daily. Remove and flush solids right away. Vinegar will help neutralize odors. Or you can purchase an appropriate product from a pet store.
Never hit your puppy or rub his nose in his waste. This is not only cruel, it teaches fear and is counterproductive.
After toileting, check your pet’s feet and use puppy wipes or a wet washcloth to prevent tracking from the soiled area.
Above all, be patient and consistent with your puppy. Potty training takes several weeks to become ingrained as a behavior but it will be well worth your effort. All types of training require repetition and a willingness to overlook mistakes while doling out tons of praise for your puppy’s successes. Your reward will be a happy puppy and you will be well on your way to establishing more good habits as your pet grows.
Next in this series: How to teach the “Leave it” command.