After you bring home and then cuddle and play with your new pup, you need to learn the ins and outs of how to potty train your puppy. We spoke with professional dog trainer Krystal Nierman and posed 10 questions new dog owners have about how to potty train a puppy.
Q: How old should my dog be before I start potty training?
A: You can start potty training as early as you'd like. However, most puppies don't have full control of their bladders until they are 12 weeks.
Q: How long does training take?
A: This depends on the individual dog. The American Kennel Club says the process can take anywhere between a few days and a few months.
Q: What do I do once I'm outside with my puppy?
A: Pick a spot, stand there, and give the puppy a full six feet of leash, on either side of you, to go potty.
Q: What if my dog doesn't go? How long should I wait before bringing him back in and then back out again?
A: Wait 5-10 minutes outside. If he doesn't go, keep him on the leash for 15 minutes inside. Then go back outside again until he goes.
Q: What's the best method of praise after my dog goes?
A: For some dogs, it's treats. Others prefer verbal and physical praise or play.
Q: How often should I take my dog outside?
A: This depends on the age of the dog and the success she is having with potty training. Generally, it's every 1-2 hours at first and then up to 4-5 hours.
Q: Is a feeding schedule important?
A: Absolutely! Dogs' bodies work on circadian rhythms. Some need to go immediately, and others can take 20 minutes or longer.
Q: Do puppies need to go more often than older dogs?
A: Yes, they do. As their bladder grows, so can the length of time between potties.
Q: What should I do if an accident occurs?
A: If you see your puppy going inside, it's OK to yell, "stop," and then rush her outside. If you don't see the puppy make the accident, then just clean it up.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: Potty training is all about repetition and consistency.
Many dog owners get help from dog trainers during this important time in their dog's life. There are also resources available to help dog owners, such as the American Kennel Club's free crate training e-book and their video about potty training puppies.