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Cartoon Dog reading paper on potty

Better Dog Bathroom Habits

Your new puppy is coming home, and along with all of the excitement and fun comes the anxiety of potty training. But before you stress yourself out from the mere thought of it, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Many of us think of our small dogs as our children, so it is important to remember that, as with children, potty training does not occur overnight. There are those wildly lucky pet parents whose puppies seem to have been born with that "instantly house trained" gene and miraculously, their little dog seems to effortlessly know exactly where to "go." But for the other pet moms and dads, there's one word to live by: "patience."

Repeated behavior, enhanced with positive reinforcement, is what will make proper potty habits stick. This can take weeks, or in many cases, up to six months. While lots of people use the crate training method, others prefer to solely use disposable training pads. Stay-at-home moms and dads may even choose to immediately train their puppies to only do their business outdoors because they're around their new puppies all the time.

One of the more popular training methods these days is to teach your dog to ring a bell hanging from the doorknob as a signal when they need to go out. After your little dog sees you repeatedly ring the bell when you take them out, they will realize that ringing the bell equates to potty time. Just be sure the bell is hung low enough for them to reach!

Regardless of the method chosen, patience will always come into play in a very big way. Losing our tempers and scolding the puppy (i.e., yelling) will be completely counterproductive, and your puppy may end up believing that going to the bathroom in general is a bad thing. In effect, housetraining will become even more of a challenge and progress will not be made. When accidents happen, an assertive "no" will do the trick. However, this has to be done when your baby is actually "caught in the act." As Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan says, dogs live in the moment. Therefore, letting your puppy know that you are displeased about something that happened 15 minutes ago is useless.

To instill confidence in your little one and properly acknowledge their progress and good behavior, praise (verbal alone or along with treats) is sure to make your puppy pleased with what they've accomplished. And they'll clearly see how something as simple as potty time makes mom and dad so proud!

- S. Athanasiou


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