What you need to know about
potty training a Cocker Spaniel puppy
Need Help With Potty Training?
New puppy owners usually struggle a bit
potty-training their pup.
Here are some ideas:
Keep an important idea in mind: don't focus your effort on teaching your
dog not to go potty in the house... teach your dog to go potty outside.
Do you see the difference between those two strategies? One is trying to
convince the dog to NOT do something, the other is training a dog to want to do
something. There's a big difference.
Pick out a good spot outside, preferably a small lawn area. Take your dog
on a leash to this same spot every time. The smell of the urine
from her previous efforts will encourage her to go again. Ever notice that
they sniff for a good spot? Well, guess what smell they are hoping to
find! Do not clean up old poop at this spot until the dog is completely
Teach your puppy words for elimination.
"Go Potty", "Go Poop", "Do Your Business", "Let's Get Crapping, Baby!"
(Well, OK, maybe that last one wasn't so good.)
Use one of these phrases repeatedly as you try to get
her to go, then praise her enthusiastically when she actually does it.
Eventually, she will learn the phrase just as she would any command, and she'll be able to do it when you use the magic
ANTICIPATE your dog's need to go potty. As soon as the dog wakes up from a nap, go outside for a potty break.
After it's been a certain amount of time since the last potty break, take the dog out for another. The younger the
dog is, the shorter the period of time between potty breaks should be.
COMPLETELY clean up any potty accidents in
the house. The smell of urine in the carpet will encourage her to go there
again, so you must remove the smell entirely. And remember that a dog's
sense of smell is about a hundred times better than yours... so if you
think running a damp towel over it is going to do the trick, you are sadly
mistaken. Three little words for you: Carpet Cleaning Machine.
At night, place the dog in a tightly enclosed area with room enough only for a pillow or dog bed.* A dog will not pee
or poop in their own bed if they can possibly hold it. Take advantage of this and limit their night-time sleep area so
that there is nowhere to go without soiling their own bed. The easiest way to do this is to place the dog in a
small kennel or animal carrier. The size of the container is critical... it must only be large enough for
the dog to turn around in. If you pick too large of a container, this strategy will not work. See my
Products For Cockers page for a suggestion on a good crate (kennel) that is
just the right size for an adult Cocker. (Put an empty cardboard box inside half the crate if you are crate
training a puppy.) If you're
going to keep your dog in a small container at night, be sure to take the dog outside for a pee or poop FIRST THING in the
morning. If the dog has soiled the bed by the time you get there, you'll know the dog does not yet have the
bladder capacity to hold it all night.
The following evening, wake your spouse up at 3 AM and instruct them to take the dog out for a potty break.
(Watch out... you may end up in the dog house, though!)
Make sure there is always a way for the dog to get outside without your help... for example, a doggie door, or a door left open.
Don't expect that the dog will alert you when she wants to go outside. If
it is impossible to provide a way for the dog to get outside without your help,
hang a small bell next to your back door and teach the puppy to play with it. This way, if the puppy
goes to the door hoping to be let out, she'll play with the bell and you will know to get up and let her out.
It's a LOT easier to potty train a puppy during dry, warm months. Puppies aren't likely to want to go outside for
a potty break if it's crazy cold outside, or raining or snowing. Therefore, unless you live somewhere with totally
mild winters, you will make the job of potty training MUCH easier for yourself if you acquire your new puppy in Spring
All indoor activities should be preceded by taking the dog out for a potty break. Your carpet will appreciate it!
If a dog is almost ready to pee or poop, but hasn't gotten around to doing it quite yet... any physical activity
will usually trigger the urge to do it. So, if a dog wakes up from a nap and you immediately start playing with
her on your carpet... you're just ASKING for trouble! Potty break first, play time second.
Whenever your puppy cries or whines, assume she has to go potty!
(Yet, the same behavior in your teenage daughter is completely normal.)
She may be signaling her frustration that she knows she is not supposed to pee in the house, yet she can see that all
the doors are closed. And remember, always assume your puppy needs to go potty immediately after she wakes
up from a nap.
Stop water intake a few hours before bed time.
This will help the puppy sleep through the night without waking you up to go outside.
Praise the dog when it poops or pees in the right spot, GENTLY scold when it does it in the wrong spot.
As with any training, do not ever hit the dog. You want her to be your friend, right?
When taking the dog outside for a pee or poo, use a leash.
You'll be able to control the dog better, and keep it from fooling around when there's business to be done.
Trying to train your puppy to pee on paper or pads inside your house is a VERY bad idea.
You do not want your puppy thinking it's ever OK to pee or poop inside the house!
Always train your puppy to go potty outside!
* This technique is called Crate Training. There is a lot more to it than what I have summarized here.
For more information, click here
There is an excellent article about potty training written by a professional dog trainer, Pam Young, LVT
What else have I learned as a breeder of Cocker puppies?
Check out my tips on buying a Cocker puppy and my
tips on raising a Cocker puppy. You'll
also find a lot of good advice in my list of frequently asked
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