There are few things more adorable than a playful, fluffy, puppy, bouncing throughout your house with unbridled energy. However, bringing a new furry addition home to your family is a major responsibility. That requires a tremendous commitment of time, effort, and patience.
One of the more challenging issues new canine owners face is getting their pup to be potty trained throughout the night. Puppy yaps can be cute but can be much more appreciated when you are not hearing them from your bed in the middle of the night!
If you take a proactive approach, these early days (and nights) do not need to be a stressful experience for you or your pup. Consistently following these suggestions will allow you to soon have a well-trained pup, who is sleeping through the night. Nighttime potty training does not have to be so ruff for anyone!
How to Potty Train a Puppy
It is important to know that younger puppies can only hold their bladders for only a few hours at a time. As they age, their ability to do so increases. Which subsequently, they will be able to go longer without a bathroom break.
So for the first few months of your puppies life, a nightly potty trip will be necessary. For younger puppies, more frequent nighttime breaks may be needed and will lessen as they grow. Considering this, there are some things you can do prior to bedtime to provide consistency with your dog and begin to establish a predictable routine.
First and foremost, you want to be sure your dog is drinking enough water throughout the day. With that said, a helpful tip is to remove access to water two hours before your pup’s bedtime. An empty bladder is a happy bladder! Access to clean, freshwater throughout the day is pivotal to your dog’s well-being.
However, while attempting to teach your dog that sleeping is more for sleeping than for potty visits. Ending water breaks prior to bedtime will ease the urge to go for your dog and allow your dog to be more successful.
Of course, if your dog is exhibiting signs of excessive thirst, or has been exposed to extreme heat, water comes first. Especially before any training goals, as much as you may desperately want to get some shuteye.
Best Practices For Nighttime
Speaking of sleep, puppies seem to have two extremes of energy levels: hyper and exhausted. Puppies sleep periodically throughout the day. Young puppies with full bellies can very easily begin a bad habit of napping after their evening meal.
This may sound harmless but often can result in a second wind. Which can happen later in the evening when the human family members are trying to wind down and end their day.
Try to avoid this habit from developing by keeping your dog alert and active after dinner. A brisk stroll outside or a game of fetch will mentally stimulate your pup. Along with helping avoid him/her falling asleep too early. Then the family is ready to retire for the night, your dog will be ready for a rest too!
It should be noted that you should not take your dog for a walk or play fetch with them straight away after they have been fed. It is best to give your dog time to digest their food first, usually 30-60 minutes later. This is also wise, so you can give their stomach a chance to settle down beforehand, roughly 30 minutest too.
Puppies are not known for their manners. So when the bathroom gods beckon, your dog will most likely whine or bark to be let out for that very necessary potty break.
Although this may seem to be a positive behavior, as your dog is attempting to communicate his/her needs to you. Acknowledging this behavior with a trip outside can backfire on you. It is important whenever possible to avoid rewarding these midnight noises. Doing so creates some bad habits you definitely want to avoid.
Best Way to Potty Train a Puppy
So what to do? Your puppy needs a potty break at some point during the night, but on the other hand, you cannot positively reinforce poor behavior. The solution is to plan predetermined potty breaks on your own terms, not your dog’s. Try setting your alarm three to four hours after you go to bed.
This may sound like a hassle, as the last thing on your mind when your head hits the pillow is waking back up! But this practice will ensure your dog will be able to go to the bathroom after holding it for a reasonable amount of time. Without encouraging the undesirable behaviors of late-night howls echoing from his/her crate throughout your silent, sleeping home.
As previously mentioned, very young pups under sixteen weeks may require two or three overnight bathroom breaks. This will happen until their bodies become physically capable of keeping their bladders fuller for longer periods of time.
When your alarm goes off and the potty break has arrived, it is crucial that you ensure this is a low energy, non-stimulating experience for your dog. You want your dog to get the message that nighttime is for sleeping and not playing. Bathroom breaks are not for playing but are for quickly doing your business and getting back to bed.
It may be helpful to have the potty supplies readily available by the door to lessen preparation time. Some items to have handy would be a collar, (young pups should never be crated while wearing their collars, as they can be a serious choking hazard) a leash, waste bags, and even a flashlight. Once you have what you need, quickly proceed outside.
If you have been researching general potty-training advice, you know it is recommended that your dog has a designated area to consistently use for eliminating. Continuing to use this area will help your dog understand that they are outside to do a job. Avoid talking to your dog in a playful manner and strive to keep a serious tone. The goal of your visit is to be swift and productive.
What Phrases Are Best For Potty Training?
One exception to this rule is to come up with a word or phrase said in an expressive manner at the moment your dog begins eliminating. Phrases such as, “Hurry up,” or “Go potty” work well. Timing is pivotal, as you want to utter the phrase the moment your dog begins going to the bathroom.
Over time and with repetition, your dog will begin to associate this phrase with the physical act of relieving him/herself. You might be wondering why that is important. Well, in the middle of the night during a torrential rainstorm, time is of the essence!
With continued use, this phrase will almost become a command for your dog to do his/her business in a timely manner. You will be most grateful for having put in the effort when the weather’s not cooperating, or you simply need to go back to sleep!
When your dog is finally done, it is helpful to immediately go back into the house with the same swiftness and no-nonsense attitude with which you emerged. Bring your dog directly to his/her crate, make sure he/she is secured, and go back to your bedroom. Avoid making a grandiose emotional goodbye as you exit, as this will encourage your pup to engage with you.
The message needs to be clear: you did what you needed to do and now it is time to go back to sleep. In the event, your dog is now more awake and alert and begins making noises to get your attention. Try very hard to ignore them and walk away without addressing them. Any time you do not ignore the whimpers, it teaches your pup that annoying noises will mean Mommy or Daddy will do whatever I want!
How Long Does It Take To Potty Train a Puppy?
Remember the time, effort, and patience that was previously mentioned as being such an important part of puppy training? Try to keep reminding yourself that your goal for your dog is gradual and generally consistent progress.
You may have an off night, your pup could have a training setback, or maybe he/she is feeling under the weather. These are examples of situations that may seemingly put a halt to your dog’s training progress. You may feel as if for every paw forward, you are taking two paws back. Remember that this is in fact not the case.
Your puppy’s progress is a spiral advancement, not a straight diagonal line up. Some nights will go better than others. But overall you will get the sense that your dog is learning what is expected behavior at nighttime.
The one major benefit you have going for you is that time is on your side. As the days and weeks tick by, your pup’s body will continue to develop, and that bladder will become stronger and grow larger. Bigger, heftier bladders mean longer time between eliminations, which means more uninterrupted sleep for you!
Even if you are not a terrific trainer, or only adhere to some of these tips, the calendar is your best friend in this endeavor. Eventually, your dog will sleep through the night, without bathroom visits, with or without adequate training on your part.
However, by implementing these practices consistently, you will assuredly achieve success at a much quicker rate. And a much quicker rate means more uninterrupted sleep for you even sooner! Doesn’t that sound like a dream?