Potty Training Is Not Rocket Science
Would you like to be so good at puppy potty training that you could write the following books?
- “How To Potty Train A Mastiff Puppy In A Week,”
- “The Ultimate Guide to Housebreaking A Puppy With NO Mess,” or
- “7 Tips For A Dry And Clean Puppy… Guaranteed!”
If that seems like an unrealistic goal for you based on where you are today with your leaky puppy, keep reading!
The truth is potty training is NOT rocket science.
It comes down to the fact that all puppies have small bladders and can’t hold them for long periods of time.
As long as the puppy is able to relieve him or 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 big dogs.
That is, until we brought our male Mastiff puppy, Junior, home.
Let me put it this way, the first month, oh…alright…two months with Junior taught me a few MORE things about housebreaking a Mastiff puppy.
And so it is with a renewed confidence that I share with you my 5 fast and easy steps to potty train your Mastiff puppy.
If they worked for Junior, they are guaranteed to work for your puppy!
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5 Steps To Potty Train a Mastiff Puppy Fast
1. Limit Water Intake Late At Night
Mastiff puppies have tiny bladders. And, in my experience, male Mastiff puppies even tinier!
Limiting water intake late at night will ensure that your puppy is not going to bed with a full bladder which he or she cannot possibly be expected to control.
After washing Junior’s bedding every…single…day…for…weeks…on…end, trust me when I tell you your puppy will not suffer if you pick up the water bowl at 8 pm.
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.
Many big dog owners use a divider in an adult size crate in order to limit a puppy’s ability to simply sleep on one side of the crate and pee on the other. If they are confined to a slightly smaller area, you will be more likely to be notified when your puppy needs to go potty.
If you are looking for recommendations for the best crate for a Mastiff puppy, I use the Extra Large Dog Crate for Great Danes to allow ample room and comfort as these boys grow fast. It comes with the divider which you can easily move and adjust as your baby giant grows.TIP #1 for Housebreaking a Puppy: Limit water intake late at night to prevent the urge to go in the middle of the night.
2. Limit Distractions While Your Puppy Explores
Do not think for one minute when you bring home your Mastiff puppy that you are going to be able to carry on with your daily activities and just add in a few more trips outside.
And 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.
Let me illustrate.
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.
Here is my advice: Limit distractions. Your puppy needs you more than you think.TIP #2 for Housebreaking a Puppy: Limit distractions. When you are not able to give undivided attention, utilize a crate or play yard to prevent accidents.
3. Reward, Reward, Reward with the Power of Treats
I am a firm believer in the power of food rewards in dog training and behavior modification.
The reason is simple. Dogs understand food. They do not have to learn what food means or why they should like it.
When we pair food, something your puppy inherently loves, with a skill or behavior you want to encourage – like peeing and pooping outside – we are able to make the connection in your puppy’s brain.
“Oh, so THAT’S where you want me to go?! Makes sense now!”
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to rewarding your puppy:
1. Timing is critical!
If you wait even just a couple seconds to go grab a treat, you may have lost your chance to make the food – pee outside connection.
To make this impactful, always take your puppy outside with treats in your pocket, ready to go. You may have to follow your puppy around as he or she sniffs, but be ready to draw out that treat the second your puppy starts to go.
2. Choose high value treats!
Let’s put it this way. There is a saying that “you get what you pay for.”
This is as true in potty training as it is in business. If you are using kibble to reward your puppy, for many puppies, that will not be enough to WOW them.
Consider soft, yummy treats like these or cut up string cheese or hot dogs. I have an entire section of my Amazon shop where I have curated my top recommendations for dog treats, so feel free to check them out here.
3. Put Treats in Multiple Locations Throughout Your House.
As a new Mastiff puppy owner, you will want to be making multiple connections in your puppy’s brain as he grows. Things like, “it’s not nice to bite,” “kids can be fun,” and “friendly strangers are the best.”
Having treats in numerous convenient locations throughout your home will ensure that you are always ready to catch your puppy doing the right thing or to encourage him or her in learning a new behavior or skill.TIP #3 for Housebreaking a Puppy: When we pair food, something your puppy inherently loves, with a skill or behavior you want to encourage - like peeing and pooping outside - we are able to make the connection in your puppy's brain.
4. Never Go Longer Than 20 Minutes Between Potty Breaks
This one relates to #2 above as it is so easy to get distracted with… life… when trying to potty train a Mastiff puppy.
Frequency and consistency matter. A LOT!
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.
If you are wondering how long can puppies hold their pee….. the answer is about 20 minutes.
In fact, with Junior, I learned that some puppies can’t even hold their bladder that long.
Junior peed on his Big Barker Premium Dog Bed not once, not twice, but three separate times while playing in my bedroom.
Operative word: considered.
The key is being consistent. If you take your puppy out every 20 minutes for the first few days in your home, you will prevent accidents before they happen.
Remember that puppies catch on quickly. If you allow your puppy to get in the habit of relieving him or herself in the house, you will have an uphill battle convincing them to go outside.
However, religiously committing to the Every 20 Minutes Rule (with treats on hand every time) will ensure your home stays dry and clean for good. I promise!!TIP #4 for Housebreaking a Puppy: Let your puppy out every 20-30 minutes. You will appreciate the joy of being a doorman while minimizing accidents in the house. Read more TIPs here...
5. Never Scold Your Puppy! EVER!
I know what you are thinking, “Geez that is pretty dramatic.”
Not one for sensationalism, I choose my words carefully. When I say “Do not scold your puppy,” I mean just that.
Here is why:
1. Your puppy has no idea what you are scolding him or her for.
Yelling at a puppy for peeing in the house is like yelling at a baby for crying. It makes no sense and does absolutely no good. And it destroys your budding relationship at the same time.
Let me set up a common scenario:
Your puppy pees on the ground and comes to you. You scream, “No, no, NO! BAD puppy!!”
What do you think your puppy just learned? Not to pee on the floor?
Perhaps the answer to that question will become more clear when your puppy starts to avoid coming to you.
2. Scolding only reinforces fear and uncertainty.
Yelling doesn’t actually teach your puppy anything other than to fear you. Learning how to potty train a mastiff puppy, or any puppy for that matter, involves rewards, praise, and encouragement for doing the right thing, not punishment for having an accident.
Puppies are simple creatures with small bladders and a desire to please. Punishments only serve to confuse, not bring clarity to the concept of peeing outside.
Consistent trips outside with lots of treats, praise, and encouragement ensure your puppy understands what you want while enjoying being with you. Remember that you are building a bond and a relationship for a lifetime!TIP #5 for Housebreaking a Puppy: Yelling at a puppy for peeing in the house is like yelling at a baby for crying. It makes no sense and does absolutely no good. And it destroys your budding relationship at the same time.
Bonus: Set Appropriate Expectations
My experience with Junior taught me that not all puppies respond the same way to the aforementioned 5 steps. So this BONUS is absolutely critical.
Remember that your puppy is a baby and perfection is an impossible expectation that is both unfair and unreasonable.
Realize that a few accidents are not the end of the world. And they do not mean you are destined for a pee-riddled home.
Give your puppy as much grace as he unselfishly gives you.
If you do, I promise you will be writing your version of the book, “How To Potty Train A Mastiff Puppy In A Week,” before you know it!
Let’s summarize the 5 keys to successfully potty train a Mastiff puppy:
- Limit Water Intake Late At Night
- Limit Distractions
- Reward, Reward, Reward
- Frequency & Consistency Matter
- Never Scold Your Puppy! EVER!
- BONUS: Give Your Puppy GRACE!
Do you have a puppy you are currently attempting to potty train?
What tips for housebreaking would you add to this list? Share with me in the comments below.
If you or a friend have been blessed with a new puppy, here are a few more posts from the Big Dog Mom archives that may interest you both:
- Mastiff Puppy 101: Wild Puppy to Gentle Giant, Guaranteed!
- How to Socialize a Puppy at Home: 15 Creative Tips [That Work!]
- The Ultimate Guide To Cutting Dog Nails And Having Them Love You For It.
- Puppy Fear Periods: The 5 Things that Can Save Your Puppy!
- Feeding Giant Breed Puppies for Dummies – The Protein Myth & More
- 8 Foolproof Ways to Find a Great Dog Trainer for Your Big Dog
- The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money on Pet Medications
- A Bomb Proof Big Dog Starts With A Socialized Puppy