Potty training is the most important thing for your new puppy to learn, and the sooner the better. There are two ways to potty train your dog; “passive” training and “crate” training. You will have to decide which method fits your personality and lifestyle. For dog guardians who live in apartments, I recommend the “crate” training method, described below.

The “passive” method consists of simply watching your dog, and correcting him when he even appears to be attempting to relieve himself in an unwanted area. When you first bring your puppy home you want to watch him closely as he inspects his new surroundings. Look for signs that he might have to “go”. A sure tip that he is looking for a place to “go” is he will start sniffing the floor, sort of wandering in circles. The next thing he will do is squat, and you know what comes after that! It is at this moment that he starts to sniff that you want to pick him up and bring him outside so he can do his thing. If there is a specific place outside you want him to go, you can train him to do that too. In addition to watching your puppy carefully, he should be repeatedly brought outside every half hour or so to see if he might have to go. If he does indeed decide to go, he should receive lots of praise, consisting of verbal and physical affection. Let him know he did a good thing. Dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement. For those who have a specific place outside that you want him to use, first let him learn that he should go outside, then use the same method to move him to the area you would like him to go. Remember, lots of praise, it’s very important!

The “crate” method involves putting your dog into a small kennel, just big enough for him to turn around and lay comfortably, but not big enough for him to be able to relieve himself in a corner and avoid the mess. Dogs don’t “go” where they sleep. This method teaches him to “hold it” until he is let out of his crate, giving you control over when he goes. This is a better solution for those who are living in apartments and have to take their dog for a walk when it’s time to go. The crate should NEVER be used as punishment! Only use the crate with positive reinforcement.

Your first crate will be small, and your puppy should be in it when you are sleeping and when you are not home. If everyone in the household works during the day, try to arrange so that someone can come home during lunch and free him from the crate to relieve himself. Your puppy should not be left in his crate for more than four hours. Try to make his crate fun. Throw toys and treats inside and try to get him to go in on his own. Try feeding him in there. If he won’t go in to eat, feed him just outside his crate, gradually moving his food inside the crate until he is eating inside and is getting more comfortable being in it.

Expect that for the first three days, your puppy will whine when put into his crate. Some puppies might need less time to adjust, others more. If you are in an apartment, you might want to warn your neighbors, and possibly get them some ear plugs, along with some for yourself. When he whines, you must ignore it. If you come running, he will see that whining gets results, and continue to do it. After a while he will learn to love his crate, and go in it willingly and when he needs comfort and security. As he grows, you can purchase an adjustable crate. Remember, it should not be too big or he will go in the corner. Adjust the size to be big enough for him to turn around in it and lay down, no more. When you first get home, bring your puppy outside first thing, then use the “passive” method, watching closely and bringing him outside when needed.