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When Mike and I (Steph) brought Django home, we instantly fell in love with him. He was adventurous, playful, mischievous, and absolutely adorable. Like most dachshunds, he was also notoriously hard to housebreak. Django had a ton of accidents throughout our Brooklyn apartment. Although they became fewer as he grew out of puppyhood, he still had regular accidents until he was 7-8 months old.
Potty training your puppy can be a daunting task if you have never done it before. That is why we sat down with Steffi Trott, the founder of SpiritDog Training in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, for potty training tips. In this DJANGO Dog Blog article, we also share some of our favorite potty training products that we used with Django and link to other current best sellers and customer favorites.
Puppies that are less than 3 months cannot hold their waste. Just like human babies, the instant they have to go, they’ve gone. Trott suggests that you start potty training your puppy when he is between 12 and 16 weeks old. At that point, he should have some control of his bladder and anal sphincter muscles. While most puppies are fully potty trained in 4 to 6 months, some can take up to a year.
Some factors that can influence potty training are:
Puppies usually need to go potty 5 minutes after eating and 15 minutes after exercising. If you see any of these common signs, immediately leash your puppy and take him outside to relieve himself:
While you might not like the idea of keeping your puppy in a crate, it is the easiest way to potty train him. Dogs spend the first few weeks of their lives learning that a den is a safe, clean place to live. This makes it relatively easy to train your puppy to love his crate.
When Mike and I were potty training Django, we bought a MidWest Homes folding dog crate. To prevent accidents throughout our apartment, we kept Django in his crate throughout the night when we slept and for short periods of time during the day if we had to leave Django alone in the apartment (in addition to a potty training tactic, this was equally to ensure Django's safety while we were away). Although Django continued to have accidents in our apartment for several months, he quickly learned not to soil his crate. To this day, we have a crate in out home because Django loves it! We never close the crate door on him. Django simply loves having his own soft, cozy space to rest, hang out with a chew toy, and get away from his rambunctious toddler brother if need be.
Your puppy’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If he is still growing, block excess crate space so he cannot go at one end and sleep at the other (most crates come with dividers to accomplish just this). If your puppy starts whining or scratching, immediately take him to the bathroom. If you miss his potty signals, he will think it is okay to go inside his crate. Then he will have no problem leaving little “presents” around your home too.
Mike and I never used potty pads. We knew dachshunds were notoriously hard to housebreak and didn't want to encourage Django to go potty inside of the house. With that said, potty pads are great tools for certain dogs and situations. If you work full time away from home or the winters in your area are brutal, using puppy pads can set your puppy up for success. He will eventually learn to pee or poop directly on the pad and not on your carpet, duvet cover, or sofa.
Amazon has several disposable puppy training pad options, including these best-selling puppy pads by Glad. Reusable puppy pads are also an environmentally friendly option. To prevent reusable pads from smelling like urine, mix a tablespoon of vinegar in with your detergent and then wash them as normal.
The downside of potty pads? “I have clients who come to me because their 6-month-old puppy is still peeing inside on them,” Steffi Trott told us. They have become too used to them and do not want to go outside. To combat potty pad dependence: slowly move your puppy's potty pad toward the door. Every time you move it, make sure he watches. Once he uses the pad in its new spot, shower him with praise (or reward him with a treat if you are sure he is completely empty). Before you know it, he will willingly go outside and without the potty pad.
Training your puppy to ring a potty bell to go outside allows your little one to easily and clearly communicate when he needs to go to the bathroom. Dog bell training is convenient for both you and your dog and helps prevent accidents.
When Django was a puppy, Mike and I trained him to ring a bell whenever he needs to go outside. To this day, Django still rings a bell whenever he needs to go outside to pee or poop. If he really has to go poop, Django will aggressively ring the bell over and over until we run over to take him out.
We cover exactly how to bell train your puppy in this article: "How to Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell to Go Potty Outside."
It is important to keep your puppy on a potty training schedule. For the first few days of your potty training program, Trott recommends taking him out “every 20 minutes or so.” It will reduce the likelihood of accidents and make sure he gets off to a good start, even if he is thrown off by his new environment.
Once you get past those first few days, you should take your puppy out (1) after eating/drinking, (2) after playing inside, (3) after spending time in his crate, (4) after waking up from a nap, or (5) before bedtime. He should be able to hold his bladder for one hour for every month of age. For example, a 5-month-old puppy can wait 5 hours to poop or pee.
Here is how often your puppy should go potty. Keep in mind that if he is having accidents on this schedule, you will want to take him out more often.
Potty Training Schedule
|6-7 months||12 months and older|
|Daytime||1 hour||2 hours||3 hours||4 hours||5-7 hours|
|Nighttime||3-4 hours||4-8 hours||8 hours||8 hours||8-12 hours|
Because your puppy has an immature digestive system, he cannot handle a lot of food. Feed him three times a day until he is 6 months old. The type of food he eats will determine how often he needs to go potty.
If you have any questions about housebreaking your puppy or want to share a potty training experience, please leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
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March 22, 2021
I have a three year old son and just finished training him. I figured now is the best time to try to train my puppy. I didn’t realize it would be so much harder. Thanks for all the tips!