There are several medical issues that can interfere with potty training. Dogs with a urinary tract infection (UTI) will urinate frequently in small amounts, and will not have much control. You may also notice excessive licking of their genital region. If you notice a change in the consistency of their stool, the cause could be a gastrointestinal issue. Some common causes in puppies are intestinal parasites, having eaten something not in their normal diet, or a sudden food change. If a food change is necessary, do it gradually over 5 to 7 days. If you suspect any of these issues could be a problem, you should consult with your veterinarian.
Crate training is a great way to start your puppy off on the right paw. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean, so a properly sized crate, introduced gradually, will create a home base for your puppy and will keep him from having accidents when you can’t watch him. Use the crate when you’re unable to give your puppy your full attention during the day, as well as at nap time and bedtime. Selecting the right size crate is critical, and it should be big enough so that your puppy can comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down but not much bigger. If you opt for a crate that’s too large, your puppy will be able to potty in one corner and sleep comfortably in the other, defeating the purpose of crate training.
In the 1950s Blanche Saunders was a staunch advocate of pet-dog training, travelling throughout the U.S. to promote obedience classes. In The Complete Book of Dog Obedience, she said, "Dogs learn by associating their act with a pleasing or displeasing result. They must be disciplined when they do wrong, but they must also be rewarded when they do right." Negative reinforcement procedures played a key part in Saunders' method, primarily the jerking of the choke chain. The mantra taught to students was "Command! Jerk! Praise!" She felt that food should not be an ongoing reward, but that it was acceptable to use "a tidbit now and then to overcome a problem." Saunders perhaps began the shift away from military and police training methods, stressing repeatedly the importance of reinforcement for good behaviour in training—a move toward the positive training methods used today.
It's very important to put your puppy on a regular and timely feeding schedule; What goes in on a regular schedule will come out on a regular schedule. Every pup is different; some poop immediately after eating; with others it may be 30 minutes to an hour after eating. Unless advised by your vet for some medical reason, do not free-feed. That is, do not leave food out all the time. For two reasons: First, your pup's elimination schedule will be random at best. And second, she will not necessarily associate you as the provider of her food (see our article on being a pack leader and winning a puppy's respect and trust).
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Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors--and few of us do because it's not recommended--you'll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training: