Our puppy came to us at eight weeks old. A puppy this young really has very little, to no control over when and where they go potty. They just don’t have the control at this age. So expect to do a lot of cleaning up for a couple weeks, until they gain more control. The first few days can be the worst! I remember bending over to clean up some piddle…and then she would poop while I was doing that! Endless amounts of cleaning spray and paper towels… I thought it would never end. But it did (and we are now at 16 weeks old). Here is what we did.
- Establish a routine. This is what we did: when we got up in the morning (puppy is crated at night), put puppy outside to potty. She usually pees twice, and sometimes poops, too. Then inside to play. Then outside to potty. Then inside to eat/drink. Then outside 10 minutes later (or less!). Eating usually made her have to poop, so often it was IMMEDIATELY after she ate. We learned this quickly. Pretty much, we repeated this all day long.
- ASSUME your puppy has to go potty after they wake up, eat, drink, chew, or play. Really. After all of these things, all day long. You will be outside a lot. Good thing is, the longer it goes on, the less you have to go outside. The older they are, the more control they learn.
- WATCH for signs! A puppy that is playing happily then all of a sudden gets up and starts sniffing around…. Usually has to go potty. Our puppy had a distinct “Circling” behavior when she had to poop so we would watch out for that as well. Keep your eyes open to her signals and soon you will be able to get to them BEFORE they do it inside.
- Halt indoor accidents. Personally, I waited until our puppy was more like 10-12 weeks before I started this, because I didn’t feel she really had any control until then. When I did catch her going “inside”, I would CLAP my hands very loud, and say “AH!” scoop her up and set her outside telling her to go potty. The clap/ah sounds startle them into stopping what they are doing, and then you praise outside when the go potty in the proper area. We try to simply disrupt the unwanted behavior, and then praise the good behavior.
- Give them a command. When we first got our puppy, and would she potty outside, I told her “Good POTTY!” We kept this up for several weeks. Then, I would start saying “Go Potty” when we first went outside, and soon enough, she learned the word “Potty” and now when I say go potty, that is what she does. Some people use something like “Do your business” or “Hurry up” – which sounds a bit more dignified in public.
- Clean it up! When your puppy has an accident inside, be sure to use a stain and odor remover/cleaner that contains natural enzymes that break down stains and odors. Other cleaners may leave scents behind, or even enhance the odor of the urine. Some great cleanup products are here.
- Be patient. Puppies have a lot to learn and it takes time. Patience and persistence will pay off in the end!
So, we are only two months in, but all is going well for us. Our puppy consistently goes to the door if she has to go potty, and we have not had any accidents inside for two weeks. Any accident we had prior to that was really my fault, for not paying attention or being lazy. Hopefully we continue along this path!