We provide this page to help answer some of the common questions new puppy owners have.
- General Information
- How to potty train your puppy
1. General Information
Here are some tips to follow to maximize the enjoyment, and
minimize the aggravation, of your new family member:
- Puppies are babies, not toys. They need to sleep a lot, be fed
a lot, be kept warm, and have water available at all times.
- The first vaccination shots do not totally protect your puppy from
deadly diseases. Consult a vet, and follow his recommended
schedule. Until your puppy has at least two series of vaccinations, do not
take him to locations where other dogs have been.
- Feed a
high quality dog food, and do not switch food until the puppy is about 6
months old. (This makes housebreaking much easier for both you and
- Any behaviors your puppy exhibits that would
be objectionable in an adult dog should be discouraged immediately in
- Puppies are very inquisitive and will eat and
drink almost anything, some of which are deadly. Keep all poisons
out of the puppy’s reach.
- Chocolate-eating for a puppy can
cause fatal heart problems later in life.
- Never leave your
puppy (or any dog) in a closed vehicle – it can lead to a horrible
- In all training, consistency is the key. Unwanted
behavior can only be changed by catching the puppy in the act.
Moments later, the puppy won't understand why you are upset.
- Anything you don’t want chewed on should be kept out of
range of the puppy. Offer your puppy a variety of toys and rotate them often to
prevent boredom (a major cause of destructive behavior).
- Rewarding good behavior is far more effective than punishing bad
- Unless you plan on breeding your pet, have it spayed or neutered at about 6 months of age.
Additionally, this eliminates the risk of several cancers common to dogs.
- A puppy loves having his own bed and will retreat there when he
needs a break.
- I.D. your puppy with collar tags, micro-chips, or tattoos.
2. How to Potty Train Your Puppy
Potty training is, to most owners, the first and most important kind
of training a puppy needs. When it comes to potty training, all pups are
not created equal. Some breeds are known for being easy to potty train
while others are more difficult—this should be one of the things you
look into as you explore different breeds.
Individual puppies also vary. Be patient. A puppy is a baby, and babies
need time to master acceptable potty procedures. Young puppies do not
have complete control of their bladders or bowels, and sometimes by the
time they realize they have to go, they simply can't hold it any longer.
It's your job to keep your puppy off your carpets until he's reliably
trained, to teach him where he should go, and to be patient when he has
an accident. At least your puppy doesn't wear diapers!
Here are some guidelines to help you potty train your puppy. These
procedures will work whether you're training your puppy to go outdoors
or to go in a litter box indoors (which many toy dogs are trained to
do). I don't advocate paper training, especially with a dog that you
will eventually want to potty outdoors. If you paper train him to go
indoors, you'll just have to retrain him later to go outdoors. Why not
start by training for what you really want?
Most puppies will signal that they're about to potty. When your pup is
loose in the house, keep a close eye on him. If he starts to turn in circles,
sniff the floor, or arch his back while walking, pick him up and take him out.
Once a baby starts to go, he can't stop if he's on his own feet. Help him get
to the right place; then praise and reward him with play or a treat when he finishes.
- Crate or confine your puppy when you can't watch him, always.
Train other family members to do the same.
- If you feed your puppy a commercial dog food, feed dry food. It
will keep his stools more solid.
- Confine your puppy to rooms with tile or other washable flooring
so mistakes don't ruin carpets.
- Keep your puppy on a schedule. Feed him at the same time every
day, and try to get up and go to bed close to the same time every
day while he's being potty trained.
- Puppies need lots of water, especially if they eat dry dog food.
However, while you're potty training, feed your pup at least four
hours before bedtime, and remove his water two hours before bedtime.
- Take your puppy to potty after every meal as well as the first
thing in the morning, the last thing at night, every time he wakes
up from a nap, after an active play session, and in the wee hours of
the morning if you hear him moving around. Take him on a leash to
the place you want him to use—that will teach him to use that spot,
and also teach him that he can go even on leash with you standing
right there. That can be important if you're away from home.
- When you take your puppy to potty, don't play with him until
after he does his business. If he doesn't go within 10 minutes, put
him in his crate for 10 to 15 minutes, then take him to potty again.
When he potties, praise him and reward him with a treat or short
playtime. Wait a few minutes before you take him in-sometimes
puppies don't finish on the first try, so give him time to be sure
he won't have to go again in three minutes.
- Keep your puppy's potty place clean—pick up feces every day. You
don't like to step in it, and neither does he.
- If you don't have the time or patience to potty train a puppy,
then adopt or buy an older puppy or adult dog that is already potty
Puppies do have accidents. It's very important to remove all trace of
odor from any place your pup potties. Regular cleansers won't do it—you
may not smell urine or feces after washing the area with soap and water,
but your pup has a much more sensitive nose than you have. If he smells
waste odors, he'll think he's found the toilet. Pet supply stores sell
several types of special cleansers designed to eliminate odors. An
inexpensive alternative for urine odors (but not feces) is a 50-50
mixture of white vinegar and water. I keep a spray bottle full when I
expect puppy messes to clean up.
If you see your puppy start to go in the house, say “No” or “Anh!” pick
him up, and take him out. When he's finished, put him somewhere safe and
clean up the mess. Don't yell at your puppy or punish him for accidents.
Don't rub his nose in it. If you don't see him start to go but find an
accident later (a minute later is later), just clean it up and scold
yourself for giving him the opportunity to make a mistake. Puppies don't
go in the house to be mean or to “get you.” They do it because they
haven't learned where they should go. Remember, he's a puppy, not a
child. You can talk until you're blue in the face and he still won't
understand why you're upset about the peepee on the rug.
If your puppy is still having regular accidents in the house at four
months or older, talk to your veterinarian. Some medical problems can
interfere with housebreaking.