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Puppy Potty Training

RachelKDRachelKD member
Third Anniversary

Hey everyone!  My name is Rachel and my husband and I just bought a house, our first, woohoo!  Only thing I'm concerned about is our puppy, Maximus.  He is a teacup chihuahua and he is not potty trained.  And the ENTIRE house is carpeted... We both work full time and then some so it has been hard to find the time to train him.  He has luckily followed the lead of our 1.5 year old dog, Nala, in many ways but not this one!  We are running out of ideas!  It is hard to discipline him because he is so physically tiny (2.4 lbs) so even a small two-fingered smack can be scary.  Yelling at him just causes him to run and hide without understanding why he is being yelled at (we have even tried the sticking his nose close to it thing suggested by others).  Aside from paying an expensive training school for pups, which we cannot afford (duh...just bought a house lol), does anyone have any ideas for potty training a 6 month old teacup chihuahua?

We don't want him to ruin our new carpets but I don't want to keep him crated 24-7!

(Our current place has hardwood floors... much easier to clean up after a puppy on... Hence the urgency to teach him to go outside!)

Any advice is appreciated!! Thanks!

Re: Puppy Potty Training

  • image RachelKD:

    It is hard to discipline him because he is so physically tiny (2.4 lbs) so even a small two-fingered smack can be scary.  Yelling at him just causes him to run and hide without understanding why he is being yelled at (we have even tried the sticking his nose close to it thing suggested by others).  

    First of all, read the FAQs in the board header. You're going about potty training all wrong if you think punishing/disciplining him is the way to go. Positive reinforcement for performing desired behaviors works VASTLY better.

    Sticking his nose in accidents doesn't tell him "Don't go in the house." It tells him "Don't go AT ALL!" This basically leads to pain, confusion, and misery on his part when he goes anywhere, because he thinks he's doing something bad. Likewise, physical punishment is NEVER a good thing!!

    You need to take him out OFTEN and praise and reward him like he just cured cancer every single time he goes outside. Placing a command word with the action of going potty is helpful to get him down to business once he learns it (repeatedly saying "go potty" or "go pee" as he's going will help him learn the command).

    You need to keep him crated if he's having accidents all over the house. Either that, or keep him babygated in a noncarpeted room (like the kitchen). Clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner (Got Pee or Nature's Miracle) to break down the enzymes in the pee/poop so your pup can no longer smell it.

    If you're away from the house for more than 7 hours MAX, you NEED someone coming over to let him out to potty, more frequently if you don't crate him. A puppy can literally hold its bladder for as many hours as it is months old +1 (meaning a 4-month-old puppy can hold it for a max of 4-5 waking hours; a 6-month-old puppy can hold it a max of 6-7 hours). Obviously, they can hold it longer overnight when they're sleeping, just like people can. If you can't come home at lunchtime, you need to get someone to come over and let the dog out, simple as that.

    My DH and I, sadly, would never have gotten our puppy 2 years ago if we'd known there was no way to let her out during the day when we were at work. Thankfully, my dad and a couple of friends rotated coming over TWICE every day to let her out when she was very young, and kept coming over once a day when she got a little older and could hold it longer. She was housebroken fast, because we crate-trained her.

    You're probably going to have a harder time completely housebreaking him at this point if he's been going inside during the day all this time. He doesn't yet understand that outside = awesome.  

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  • DjinxsDjinxs member
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper

    First of all, please don't smack your dogs, even with just two fingers. All that does is teach them fear and fear-based training is not conducive to a good, trusting relationship between you and your dog.

     Also, running a dog's nose in a previous accident is confusing and most of the time does nothing that you want. They don't know what you're trying to tell them. If they have an accident and you catch them in the act, quickly grab them, say "no", and bring them outside or to whatever "potty place" you have designated. Then when they go outside, make sure to praise them and give them treats. They'll figure out that going where you want is awesome and yummy, going inside is not nearly as pleasant.

    Positive training is, in my opinion, the best way to go. It's what we're doing with our puppy. There are going to be accidents. They're babies. It happens. Try not to get frustrated or angry. Make sure you're taking them out every couple of hours and give them lots of praise and treats when they go where you want them to. We keep our pup with us as much as possible when we're at home so we can catch her if she starts sniffing or circling or squatting. Then grab them and take them outside.If you can't watch them and they're still having accidents pretty regularly if left alone, I would keep them in a crate. But don't use the crate as punishment. It should be a fun place! We give her treats and peanut butter filled kongs while she's in there to keep her occupied.

    When you do spot an accident, be sure to clean the spot well with a cleaner like Nature's Miracle. That gets rid of the scent, too, so they don't keep going back to that spot to mark. We have very light cream carpets and the Nature's Miracle gets rid of everything from dog poop and cat puke to the gross mystery substance I found on my husband's side of the den...

  • DjinxsDjinxs member
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    Ha. LuckyAngel beat me to it. Yeah. Everything she said.
  • image Djinxs:
    Ha. LuckyAngel beat me to it. Yeah. Everything she said.

    Wink Glad we could back each other up!! 

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  • Ditto Lucky 100%.  Take him out often (puppies can only hold it 1 hour for every month old they are, sometimes +1, and I would recommend taking him out every 30-60 minutes at first to set him up for success), crate him or tether him to you with his leash when you can't supervise closely, and praise/reward a TON for pottying outside. If you catch him in the act of pottying in the house, interrupt (clap your hands, shake a jar of pennies, etc.) and immediately whisk him outside. If he potties outside, praise/reward like crazy.  Hitting, yelling, rubbing his nose in the pee/poo, and other similar techniques will do more harm than good, so I would recommend stopping them immediately.
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  • the PP's mentioned everything i was thinking.  it takes alot of dedication, time and patience but if you keep at it, the puppy will learn.  I nearly cried the first time my pup asked me to go to the bathroom outside unprompted!!!
    imageimage
  • Ditto what everyone else said.

    One addition, have you considered getting potty pads or another inside potty spot for your little guy?  Of course it's better to have someone come home and take him out but at least that would offer an alternative.

  • image prettywittyandi:

    Ditto what everyone else said.

    One addition, have you considered getting potty pads or another inside potty spot for your little guy?  Of course it's better to have someone come home and take him out but at least that would offer an alternative.

    I'm personally not a big fan of potty pads - they often just confuse the dog and make him/her think it's ok to potty inside (whether on the pad or not) rather than creating a clear distinction between inside (not ok to potty) and outside (ok to potty). I've also noticed that pad-trained dogs seem to have trouble in new/different environments (other people's homes, pet-friendly hotels, etc.) because they don't know where to potty and end up having accidents. Just my $0.02 because it's ultimately a personal decision.

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  • image Caz1221:
    image prettywittyandi:

    Ditto what everyone else said.

    One addition, have you considered getting potty pads or another inside potty spot for your little guy?  Of course it's better to have someone come home and take him out but at least that would offer an alternative.

    I'm personally not a big fan of potty pads - they often just confuse the dog and make him/her think it's ok to potty inside (whether on the pad or not) rather than creating a clear distinction between inside (not ok to potty) and outside (ok to potty). I've also noticed that pad-trained dogs seem to have trouble in new/different environments (other people's homes, pet-friendly hotels, etc.) because they don't know where to potty and end up having accidents. Just my $0.02 because it's ultimately a personal decision.

    Ditto everything Caz said. Just make a 100% clear indication to always potty outside, never ever inside, pad or no. 

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  • Thanks everyone! That helps.  I had been giving him treats but we have been more regular with it since posting.  And thanks for the advice about which cleaners to use!  Nala (the older dog) never went inside really so I never really had to deal with it before and I appreciate the input!
  • Every learning style is a little different from breed to breed so with your breed the best thing to do is research the his breeds learning style (i.e. steady and stern or patient and laid back).

    Check out: http://animal.discovery.com/pets/how-to-potty-train-puppy.htm

    http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/house-training-your-puppy

    For our puppy it took almost a year with a bad work schedule to train him. We crate trained him so thats easy for when your gone, (make sure its roomy and he has things to do) if there is an accident its confined. We would change out the blanket and clean up as needed when there were accidents. If you dont want to leave him in a crate/kennel keep him in a non-carpet area, bathroom or laundry room with puppy training pads or a litter box - My brother had great success having a litter box for his 5 month old mini schnauzer and hes now 100% potty trained 3 months later, the litter box is still in his puppy area (Laundry room) for when my brother and his wife are gone but its more there as a just in case. Also I would recommend getting a spot cleaner for accidents, they are handy and clean up accidents quickly without staining. We use a Bissell SpotBot and its amazing for more then just puppy accidents.

    Good luck, I hope you get your little guy potty trained, it takes time but he will get there!

    ~E~
  • First! Read Cesar Milan's book. Dogs are animals, not humans; so your kind of discipline is not going to work. They don't understand smacks, time-outs, or yelling.

     What I did with my pup (She's 8lbs now, fully grown) is take her out every hour. I kept her tethered to me with her lead and everywhere in the house that I went, she went with me. After a few days to a week, I took her out every two hours. Then every three hours without being tethered to me. I set an alarm on the watch to go off every three hours so that I wouldn't miss it. (Even in the middle of the night) Now we take her out every four hours and she sleeps through the night. I come home during my lunch break to let her out, which isn't ideal but I can't stand to leave her crated for so long without a break. We did, however, get one of those HUGE crates that people use for great danes so that she would have more room to move around. If you can't get a break during the day and you have one of those huge crates, you can put a pee pad on one side of the crate and her bed on the other. Just be sure to test that out because when we tried it, but puppy had anxiety and tore the thing to shreds.

     Welcome to pethood. It's not all rainbows and butterflies and no one ever tells you what it's really going to be like.

  • The only thing I will add is this: 

    1. I totally agree with acting like your dog "cured cancer" as a PP put it, every time they go potty outside (using the command even as they begin to go if they don't know the command yet). Treats are okay, but positive interaction should be more motivating to some dogs. 
    2. Agreed on not going with puppy pads. 
    3. Crating is not mean as a ton of dog owners think it is. They think it's their cave and end up really liking it, and it saves your home. I don't crate my dog anymore because he is 6, but the crate is there and he actually sleeps in it until we get home because he is used to being in there when alone and likes it. It's his space. The first time I crated him he cried so bad I had to leave the house I felt so horrible making him stay in there, but you really have to trust me, they get used to it. Also, it helps to cover it with a thin blanket on the sides if you want to make it more cave like. 
    4. Consistency, consistency, consistency. I have a BS in animal science, have had dogs my whole life, and it still took me 6 months to potty train my dog, which is like unheard of that it would take that long from everyone I talk to. He knew he had to ask me to potty, but didn't get the outside part. So he came to pee on me instead of asking to take him outside to pee. He's really attached. (oiy) So anyway hopefully your dog will pick up on the outdoors part more than the with you part! 
    5. Good luck!
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  • Sorry one more thing, the PP said make sure the crate is roomy- not if your potty training. It should be just enough space to lie down really bc your puppy naturally wont potty where he sleeps.
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  • First! Read Cesar Milan's book. Dogs are animals, not humans; so your kind of discipline is not going to work. They don't understand smacks, time-outs, or yelling.

    NO to Cesar Milan. His dominance methods of training are outdated and generally instill more submissive fear-based responses than positive reinforcement training does.
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  • Cesar Milan trains dogs based on their natural intuition. It's not outdated. It's based on animal science. It's not fear-based. Submission is not the same thing as fear-based. I agree not to work with punishment over positive reinforcement, but Cesar Milan does not punish.
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  • theteno said:
    Cesar Milan trains dogs based on their natural intuition. It's not outdated. It's based on animal science. It's not fear-based. Submission is not the same thing as fear-based. I agree not to work with punishment over positive reinforcement, but Cesar Milan does not punish.
    His techniques are dominance based. Dominance theory has been disproven in recent years. He does not train by positive reinforcement, which has been proven far superior. 
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  • CM pokes, jabs, chokes, drags, provokes, and otherwise does a bang up job of intimidating the dogs he works with into "submission". Dominance theory has been debunked for years and even the guy who came up with the whole "alpha wolf" dog training scenario says he regrets it now that more research has been done. 

    Positive reinforcement training is the way to go. Or Nothing in Life is Free. This doesn't mean you never correct the dog or say no, but you certainly don't "alpha roll" them or anything. You are completely in control when it comes to potty training and you need to make it so that ANY accident the dog has in the house is actually your fault for not being vigilant. 

    The dog should always be with you, we kept our pup tethered to use by a leash, so that you can see any signs that they're circling or getting ready to squat. If you can't be watching them, they should go in the crate. Frequent potty breaks since the pup is so tiny. Tiny bladder! Give him lots of treats and praise when he goes potty outside so that he associates going outside with awesome stuff. We even managed to get our dog to (more or less) go on a cue by saying "go pee" when she squatted to pee and praising a LOT. Now I can take her out and say "go pee" and she will.
  • I have two mini schnauzers currently.  One is 2.5 years and the other is almost 4 months so we are going through the training phase right now too.  Lucky for us though my job is all through our apartment and so it is easier.  Things that I've done are to block off the rooms so that he can only be in the same room you guys are in.  This way he isn't off in a different room by himself where he can mess on the floor away from you seeing it.  The whole idea is to catch him in the act and having a word that he recognizes that tells him he did something bad like "No" or we use a sharp "Ah Ah".  This way also if you are watching you can start to tell his signs that he needs to go.  Lola will go to the door and look at you for a few seconds before squatting.  We taught Lily how to ring a bell to tell us she had to go.  Also take the dog out often and have a phrase like "go pee" but then stop talking and let the dog sniff around the grass.  The more talking you do, the more confused they get as to what you want them to do.  Also when they do go outside make sure they know they did a good job by a treat or even just a "Good Boy" with a pat on the head.  They'll get the picture.  And if this doesn't work check out Cesar's website.  He has a lot of really good training tips that have helped us out in the past.  I hope this is helpful =)
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