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Potty training troubles are some of the most common issues found in young dogs, and even some of the older ones, too. It can also be one of the most frustrating problems we come across. And don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Here are some strategies to help teach your pup good habits.

If you have a young puppy from the age of newborn to 6 months old, it’s important to know that his bladder is very small, and he might not have the best control of it. How can we work around this? Easy! Take him out every 15 to 30 minutes, or anytime you feed or water him, to try and empty his tank. Make sure that he is secured on a leash and find one spot in your yard or outside of your apartment that you always want him to go to. Dogs learn through habit and repetition. Start young! Once you are at that designated spot, ignore your puppy. He may jump up on your leg and beg for your attention, but don’t let him have it. As soon as he realizes he can get your attention, suddenly going potty is the last thing on his mind. However, if you let him do his own thing, he will get bored soon enough and move on to do something else. Now it’s all about the waiting game. Pay attention to his body language, and as soon as he hunkers down to let it go, give a cue such as “go potty” or “hurry up.” When he finishes, praise him with love and maybe even a treat or two. Make sure he knows how genuinely happy you are with him!

Although this may work for the time being, he is a puppy and he is still going to make mistakes. If you catch your pup doing the no-no in the house, interrupt it the best you can. Loud, quick noises often catch puppy’s attention and make them stop what they’re doing. But don’t be scary! You can give him a gentle “no” and take him immediately outside to his spot. When you go back inside, make sure to clean up any accidents with scent-removing cleansers. Dogs will often go where they’ve gone before, so if your pooch smells his pee, he is likely to go back there again.

If the struggle continues and you feel you are getting nowhere, try sleeping with your puppy on the couch. Lay something noisy all around the couch (such as newspaper) and all the way to the door where you normally take your dog outside to go potty. Once you are asleep, if you hear the newspaper crinkle and you see your pup walking around, immediately take him outside. Odds are, he’s looking for a place to go.

When the crate is involved, be certain that you have the correct size for your pooch. If a dog has too much room in a crate, he may feel like he can pee in one corner and retreat to the opposite side — that way he isn’t getting his paws messy and he can lay down. However, if you have the correct size of a crate, he will want to hold his pee as long as he can so that he doesn’t get it all over him. Even dogs hate that stuff on them! If you have a wire crate that is too large at the moment but you know the dog will grow into it, use a wire separator to create the correct size. These often come with purchased wire crates. Alongside this, make sure you take him out frequently. If he holds it too long, it doesn’t matter how big the crate is. Just like humans, dogs can only hold it in for so long. If he goes potty, it may not necessarily mean that he did it out of rebellion or on purpose.

There is also the concern of those who pee on purpose to show dominance and ownership of items in the home, or even people. Some dogs will lift their legs on chairs, couches or T.V. stands. Many male dogs have this issues before they are fixed because of all the hormones being produced and raging through their bodies. You can give corrections for this and still take them outside, but getting them to stop the behavior is going to be a much more difficult challenge. The best way to snuff out this bad heavier is often neutering your pup, though even that’s not a guarantee. Have patience and be consistent — and that’s the best you can do!

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