Potty Training Is Not Rocket Science
Prior to bringing Junior home, I could have written this post with countless other titles; “How To Potty Train Your Puppy In A Week,” “Potty Training Your Puppy With NO Mess,” or “7 Tips For A Dry And Clean Puppy… Guaranteed!”
The truth is potty training is NOT rocket science. There are so many fantastic resources to help you through this process and most of them are pretty common sense. In fact, when I just checked AKC.org there were 614 articles that resulted from the search for “potty training.”
It comes down to the fact that puppies have a small bladder and can’t hold their pee pee for long periods of time. That’s it… in a nut shell.
As long as the puppy is able to relieve him/herself frequently throughout the day, and you keep the puppy reasonably confined in your home until they have more control over their bladder, the puppy will get potty trained. And typically, that process is a fairly quick one. A few days to a week is all it has ever taken for any of my dogs.
That is, until we brought innocent little Junior home.
Let me put it this way, the first month, oh…alright…two months with Junior taught me a few more things about potty training a puppy. I am hopeful you will heed my warning and read the following cautionary list of 5 things you should NOT do when attempting to potty train your puppy. I have countless spots in my house and elsewhere as evidence that they are true.
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5 Things NOT To Do When Potty Training Your Puppy
1. Allow The Puppy To Drink Water Late At Night
Why, you ask?
Well, because if you are lucky then you will be up frequently throughout the night letting the puppy outside to potty. If you are unlucky, like me, you will have to wash bedding every…single…day…for…weeks…on…end.
The general rule of thumb is that puppies want to stay clean where they sleep. Meaning they will not soil their bedding if they can help it. One thing many people with big dogs do, and I did as well, is use a divider in an adult size crate (I use the Extra Large Dog Crate for Great Danes to allow ample room and comfort as these boys grow fast). This allows the puppy to be confined enough to not soil their bedding but allow them to grow into their crate so you don’t have to buy more than one. These are a fantastic tool and, despite them not working for Junior, I highly recommend them.
Unfortunately for me, Junior defied all of those “rules of thumb.” He lives by his own set of standards and laying in his own pee pee (or poopie) was well within the accepted limits for him.
Nothing I tried seemed to work for Junior; wee wee pads, peeing right before bedtime, or setting my alarm for 1am to let him out. He was a completely healthy puppy who just didn’t care where he went. He lived by the motto, “when you gotta go, you gotta go.”
We live in Arizona, so limiting water intake is not something I take lightly. I will say though, for Junior, when I focused more on his water intake earlier in the day and picked the bowl up a couple hours before bed, he slowly got better about staying dry and clean at night. Not entirely, but better.
2. Get Distracted With Kids, Phone, Friends Or Anything Resembling A Normal Life
This one is a huge NO NO!
Do not think for one minute when you bring home your puppy that you are going to be able to carry on with your daily activities and just add in a few more trips outside to let the puppy go out and potty. Having children definitely makes potty training more complicated. Even if you don’t have children, my guess is you enjoy talking on the phone, or eating, or reading (blogs like Big Dog Mom), or showering.
My experience with Junior taught me that some puppies just need more of you. Period. And that includes your full and complete attention.
I have no doubt Junior was giving me little signals before all of the many times he peed or pooped in the house. My mistake was not being attentive enough to notice them.
Like the time I passed him on one side of the counter to the other side 5 feet away and watched him pee on the floor. Or the time when Junior and Sulley were playing and Junior peed on him. Yes, Junior peed ON Sulley! Amidst my commands to stay right where he was, poor Sulley stood up, bewildered, dripping with Junior pee pee.
Even that time, I have no doubt Junior gave a few signals in the minutes leading up to that moment that signaled he had to go. If only I had recognized them one minute earlier.
3. Do Not Walk Your Puppy To Their Designated Potty Area
During the process of potty training Junior, I learned how very important this one is.
For me, walking Junior ALL the way out to the grass entails a walk of about 10 yards, in Arizona, where we have nice, sunny weather, almost every day of the year. Pathetic, right? Yes!
The fact that I would open the door and assume Sulley would just teach Junior how to logically go to the grass to eliminate or that Junior would logically follow him, did not involve much logic on my part.
I had to learn this the hard way.
Like the time Junior was outside for over an hour playing with his ball in the grass and I let him in and watched him head straight for the bottom step of our carpeted staircase to the upstairs and pee on it. Not near it… ON it.
Or the time when Junior logically followed Sulley out and pooped in the grass like such a good boy. But because I failed to be out there with him, I watched with horror from the door as he very illogically laid down in his poop.
I like to think I could have prevented that one by directing him AWAY from his poopies had I been standing next to him.
4. Wait Longer Than 20 minutes To Let Your Puppy Outside To Potty
This one relates to #2 above as it is so easy to get distracted with… life… when trying to potty train a puppy. The problem is puppies don’t always understand that we have responsibilities and a million other things on our to do list and finding a break every 20 minutes can be a challenge for anyone.
With Junior I learned that some puppies just have teeeeny-tiiiiiinyyyy bladders. Almost so small, you start to question their very existence.
Like when Junior peed on his Big Barker Premium Dog Bed not once, not twice, but three separate times while playing in my bedroom. In each of those cases he was let out within the hour, but longer than 20 minutes from the time of the horrendous accident. Naturally, with each of those incidents, I considered buying a waterproof cover for the Big Barker. Operative word: considered.
My advice: In addition to investing in a waterproof cover for your Big Barker, be sure to let your puppy out every 20-30 minutes if possible. If nothing else you will come to appreciate the challenge of being a doorman.
5. Expect More Than Your Puppy Can Deliver at His/Her Age
This one is REALLY hard for me. As I mentioned in the beginning, I had always had success potty training puppies in the past. So much so, I have had friends ask me to train their puppies. True story.
When we brought Junior home, my expectation was that as long as I followed those “rules of thumb” for potty training him, all would be well with the world and we would have a dry and clean home.
I realize now that my expectations for Junior were more than he was able to live up to.
Perhaps his microscopic bladder, disdain for a dry crate, lack of desire for a pee-free playmate, or contentment with the padding of poop when laying in the grass are all indications that Junior, like all puppies, is unique in his own way and should be trained as such.
In fact, I am going to start a new “Rule of Thumb” starting today: “If you have trained one puppy, you have trained one puppy.” Brilliant, I know.
If you keep that in mind, and are sure to avoid making the same mistakes I did in potty training Junior, I have no doubt all will be well in your dry and clean world.
I would love to know if there is anything else you would add to this list of NOT TO DO’s while potty training your big puppy. Please leave me a comment below or drop me an email at Stephanie@bigdogmom.com.
Click the links below and share this information with your friends who have been blessed with a new puppy. You may also want to share with them A Bomb Proof Big Dog Starts With A Socialized Puppy and The Ultimate Guide To Cutting Dog Nails And Having Them Love You For It.