Successfully potty-training your puppy can be helped by structuring their day with kennel time and exercise time.
Do you have a kennel for your puppy? Lifeline Puppy Rescue sell kennels NEW for $70 or used for $40. You can also find them on Amazon. We recommend starting with a 36" length kennel, that includes a divider to move as your puppy grows.
Kennel training as early as possible will help with potty-training, separation anxiety, and behavioral problems. When unsupervised, a potty-training puppy should ALWAYS be in a kennel to prevent potty accidents, chewing on non-toys, and getting into something dangerous.
Positive reinforcement for kennel training:
- Kennel training should always be a POSITIVE experience; a puppy should never be put in a kennel as a punishment or out of frustration.
- When first introducing them to the kennel, throw high-value treats inside to let them go in on their own.
- Feeding your puppy in the kennel, giving them special toys, and giving them puzzles toys are great ways for your puppy to enjoy their kennel.
- If your puppy cries when you first put them in their kennel and you take them out, they can develop the habit of crying just to be let out. The only time you should take them out after they cry is when it is around the time for a potty break.
- During kennel training, your puppy should be put in the kennel even when you are home. If they are only in the kennel when you leave, they will start to associate the kennel with you leaving. Putting them in the kennel often when you are home helps to normalize the experience.
- The #1 rule in kennel training is to keep things positive!
Time and space for the kennel:
- Using the divider, create a space that is the length of your puppy from nose tip to tail tip. Enough room for them to be able to go in, turn around, and lay down.
- This will cause your puppy's denning instinct to kick in and they will not want to potty in that area.
- They can only be in this small space for a certain amount of time. How many months old your puppy is, plus one is how long they should be in there for. For example, a 3-month-old puppy should be in that space for 4 hours before they need to potty.
- If you have to be gone longer, you will want to give them the full area of the kennel or section off an area of your house that is potty-proof. This way, they will not become uncomfortable being in a smaller space for a long period of time.
Developing a routine for potty-training:
- A potty-training puppy sleeps in the kennel overnight.
- When you wake up, or if your puppy cries before then, you should let them out IMMEDIATELY.
- If they are small, you can pick them up and put them right outside or hook them to a leash and take them directly to the potty area. Allowing them time to roam in the house before taking them out will have them looking for a place to potty inside!
- Once the puppy potties outside, they should be rewarded IMMEDIATELY with lots of praise in a high-pitched voice, petting, and treats for a job well done! We say you should pretend your puppy peed or pooped a million dollars!
- After your puppy has peed and pooped OUTSIDE, they are safe to be brought in to PLAY and lay around in the house for a while.
- If they fall asleep, put them back into the kennel for their nap. When your puppy wakes up, they will cry to be let out. IMMEDIATELY take them to the area you want them to potty and repeat the above steps.
- You can also try hanging a bell or something on the door. If your puppy touches it with their nose or paw, then you will give them a treat and open the door. Repeat this daily until they ring the bell or make the noise to go out!
- Provide exercise for your while they are out so they can channel any bad behaviors positively into exercise!
Your positivity, patience, and persistence will help your puppy succeed in kennel and potty-training.
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