Great! You have a dog that lives indoors most of the time. Now what?
So, you found the most perfect little puppy Toy Poodle or Yorkshire terrier (Yorkie) and he’s just so gosh darn cute that you can hardly stand it. Life is absolutely wonderful, right? Ha ha ha! It doesn’t take you very long to figure out that your adorable little ball of fur has a bladder the size of a teaspoon, the holding power of a tea strainer and the attention span of a gnat. He’s lucky he’s cute. There's no better time to start potty training him.
Potty Training Your Small Adult Dog or Puppy the Right Way
But don’t abandon all hope just yet. Luckily, you have certain advantages in housebreaking that owners of larger breeds don’t. Tiny dogs are easy to confine and what’s more they can be litter box trained as a potty training method. Yes, that’s right, litter box trained. It’s not as easy as litter training a cat but it can be done. And, it does not mean that your dog can never be trained to go potty outside.
Choosing the Right Sized Litter Box
As for an appropriate litter box you can get a doggy litter box at your local pet store or you can improvise. I use an old over-sized dog crate because it helps keep my dogs from kicking litter all over. I start with the pelleted paper dog litter that has an attractant in it. The scent encourages the dog to go there and it stays in the litter box well. I have tried cat litter after the dog is well trained but I find it kicked out and tracked everywhere. You can experiment with it yourself later. Recently a product called the Puppy Patch has come out. I have heard some very good reports on it.
Establish a 'No Roaming Zone'
Now, confinement is absolutely critical. Free run of the house or even a full sized room is out of the question. If there is enough room for your pup to potty and then move away from it there is too much room. You will need to use a kennel or a playpen of some sort to limit his space.
You can also use a tie down for some situations. A tie down is a length of rope or cable with a clip on the end that you attach to your little doggy’s collar. It is attached to a piece of furniture and is just long enough for him to stand up, turn around and lie down. You can also attach his leash to your belt to keep track of him.
Make sure that when you have your puppy confined, either on a tie down or in his crate, that he has something to do. It's also a good idea to give him a chewy or a project toy so that he is not bored or thinks he is being punished for something.
Get on a Routine ASAP
Next is the routine: As soon as your pup wakes up in the morning he needs to be taken to his litter box to go potty. When he goes he should get treats and praise while he is still right there in the litter box. After that he can have about fifteen minutes of free play time under supervision. Keep an eye on him though because some puppies don’t do all of their business all at once and he may have to go again in just a few minutes.
After he’s been playing a little while take him back to the litter box and praise him for any success. If nothing happens give him a chew toy and put him in his crate, or whatever form of confinement you are using, for a half hour or so. Take him back to the litter box. Again praise him for any success.
He should be taken to the litter box after eating, drinking, napping and every ten minutes or so while playing. Success in the litter box should be rewarded with treats and a little free play time. Litter training, like potty training a toddler, is a learning and developmental curve. At no time should the little guy be punished, yelled at or have his nose rubbed in an accident. These things can actually slow down the process.
Keep the Litter Box 'Fresh as a Daisy'
Remember to keep the litter box clean to encourage the pup to keep using it otherwise you might catch him going potty right next to the litter box. With patience, vigilance and consistency your puppy can be litter box potty trained in a very short time. So good luck and have fun!
PS: If you need expert help and live in the Pikes Peak Region of Colorado Springs, you can reach out to me directly. Check out my Trifecta Package which generally solves potty training issues with either puppy or adult dogs that never were successfully trained within three sessions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurie Yakish is a dog trainer and dog behavior specialist working in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is certified through Animal Behavior College but more importantly Laurie was mentored by Gary Wilkes who pioneered clicker training and many other groundbreaking behavior modification protocols. Laurie is an active member of IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals). Dog obsessed since she was four years old, by seven she was frustrating the daylights out of her mother by stealing snacks out of the cupboards to use as treats to train her dog Pepper to play high jump.
You can learn more about Laurie by visiting www.dogtraininglauriesway.com