Most dogs are trained to relieve themselves outdoors, however if you live in an area that is affected by cold weather, then it makes a lot of sense to teach your dog to use an indoor potty area.
Similarly, small dog owners that are frail or infirm may also wish to train their puppy to use an indoor potty. Those living in a high-rise building or working long hours often do this too. The dog will need to relieve herself several times a day, therefore teaching them how to use an indoor potty area is very important and best started on as soon as possible.
Two basic methods are available for teaching dogs how to use an indoor toilet area.
Method 1: Inside the House Potty Training – Using a Small Area for Confinement
The most stress-free indoor potty training method for the majority of dogs is to confine them to a room that is very small or a small area in the house. The space that you create in your house can have a gate with several panels which can be arranged in different sizes as well as shapes. It is important to note that the space that you have created should be big enough to only hold the puppy’s bed, food and water bowls and potty area. No empty floor space should be visible.
Many dog owners are surprised as to how small the confinement area is, however if you give the puppy additional space, this will confuse them and make the training process take much longer.
You want to encourage your puppy to use the potty area to relieve herself. Of course, the puppy will not want to potty in its bed or where it will eat. Therefore, it is likely for them to use the potty area, since it is the only other space available.
Certainly, it is up to you, the owner, to keep the potty area clean and quickly remove any fouling whether it be liquid or solid. By doing this you prevent your puppy from stepping in its own pee or poo and spreading it throughout the confinement area. You don’t need to leave the potty area dirty for the puppy to recognize it as their potty area. While there is some truth to the old wives tale that a trace of scent is needed so that the dog can recognize it’s potty area it is not necessary for you to leave piles of poo to create a trace of scent.
Some owners simply leave a piece of paper that has a splash of urine on it under a freshly placed paper, however, you may find that you have a puppy that is a “clean freak” and will not use a dirty litter area. It is at this stage that you may begin to have an issue.
When you are away from home, it is best to leave your puppy in the confinement area.
Once your puppy is out of the area and in your presence, you should ensure that the puppy is supervised closely at all times, this will ensure that the puppy does not have any accidents. Ensure that you take your puppy to their confinement area once you believe that it needs to relive it’s self.
You may be able to tell that it is your puppy’s potty time because you have her on a schedule, she shows signs of wanting to go or you recently gave her something to eat or drink.
If your puppy is very young or new to potty training then, you may want to carry her to the paper for the first couple of times; this will prevent them from having accidents and to know where the confinement and potty area is.
The more mature the puppy becomes, the more likely it is that they will know what to do; you will just need to let her walk with you to the paper so she knows the path and can go there anytime the need arises. Once you recognize that your puppy is going to the potty area and using it correctly then you should praise her and reward her. This will let her know that she has done something good and encourage her to continue.
When your puppy reliably uses the restricted potty area for at least a month, then you can begin to increase the size of the confinement area.
For those puppy owners that use an exercise pen as their confinement area then they can possibly enlarge it by simply adding an additional panel or even another whole exercise pen creating a huge pen. Once your puppy is reliable in the enlarged pen you can enclose a potty area within the pen for the puppy by using a puppy gate or closed door.
However, if you used a small room as the confinement area, then it can be enlarged through adding on another room or hallway using, again, closed doors or puppy gates. Each month another room can be added if the puppy does not have any accidents.
If you see that your puppy has started to have accidents, then it could be that you have enlarged the area too quickly. All that you need to do to address this problem is revert to the smaller confinement area and after a month, if the behavior is good, slowly increase the area once more.
Space should continue to be added until the puppy can freely run everywhere in the house and take herself to the potty area whenever she needs to relieve herself.
Method 2 – Indoor Potty Training – Crate Training
The crate training technique is an excellent choice for owners that do not have sufficient space to create confinement areas. This approach is also helpful for people that have dogs that are not responding well to the small area method. Often these dogs either have destructive tendencies when in the small confinement area or simply decide to potty in the bed or bowls instead of the area provided. The crate training technique will only work if the owners can take the puppy out often for potty breaks.
See the chart beneath for guidelines:
- 6 – 12 weeks old – every hour.
- 12 – 16 weeks old – every 2 hours.
- 4 – 5 months old – 3 hours.
- 6 – 7 months old – 4 hours.
- 8 – 11 months old – 5 – 6 hours.
- 12 months and older – 8 hours.
- 6 – 12 weeks old – every 3 – 4 hours.
- 12 – 16 weeks old – every 4 – 8 hours.
- 4 – 12 months old – every 8 hours.
- 12 months and older – every 8-10 hours.
The night schedule is on the assumption that the puppy was not fed or given liquid three hours prior to bed. Also these are only guidelines and your dog may require a different schedule or a different pace of schedule.
Instead of leaving the puppy with access to his confinement area, you will leave her in a crate. It is at this stage that the puppy will wait until you take them out of the create to the potty area.
In order to train your puppy using this technique it is important that you, as the owner, train the puppy using the crate and trips to his indoor potty area instead of trips outdoors.
Safety note, never leave a collar on your puppy when you are leaving them unsupervised in their crate as a number of things can happen, especially if the puppy should try to escape. You should be completely sure that the crate you have for your puppy is safe, as the puppy could seriously injure or kill itself in a bid to escape.
Always ensure that an indoor potty area is defined and the puppy knows how to get to this area from an early stage. It is, therefore, a good idea for the puppy’s crate to be kept close to the potty area. This will help the puppy to go quickly to the area without having any accidents, getting into trouble or being distracted along the way. The place where you position the puppy’s crate could be permanent, or if you believe it is not ideal for your home, then you could move it further away as the puppy has more control and becomes more reliable.
As with the confinement area technique, you may also find it helpful to carry the puppy to his papers for the first few weeks, as this may prevent any accidents from taking place on the way.
Once your puppy is more mature and has grasped the concept of potty training, allow her more freedom to walk the path to the potty area on her own as you continue to housebreak her. It is a good idea to follow your puppy from their containment area or crate to the potty area a few times, when it appears they are heading to the potty area, just to ensure that they actually went to the potty area and did their business.
If your puppy is six months old, then they would likely have reached a more reliable stage in using the potty area without having accidents and it is at this stage that you can start to give them more freedom around the house.
Once you are happy that your puppy does not have any other behavioral problems that would necessitate that she be left in a crate when she’s home alone, then you can leave her in the room that her potty area is in. Remember that although you will increase the puppy’s access in and around the house, it should always be done gradually or you will run the risk of the puppy having accidents. Usually due to them having their territory expanded too quickly.
Therefore, potty train your puppy and expand her area gradually so that the puppy can continue to grow and advance with the training methods used.
Also, remember once the puppy starts to have accidents it will need for you to go back to a smaller space and gradually increase it’s space in accordance with its response to the potty training. Never do anything too quickly as you want your puppy to grasp the correct approach and have access to the house as well as understand where the potty area is.