Attempting to potty train a puppy in an apartment building can prove to be quite difficult, especially if you live in a high-rise building and have a way’s to travel in order to get outside. We’ve made an easy to follow guide to help you on your journey!
How to Calculate How Often Spot Needs to Go Potty:
As you know, puppies have extremely small bladders. A good rule of thumb is to think of a puppy as being able to hold its pee 1 hour for each month of age. For example, if your puppy is 8 weeks old (2 months), this means they can hold their pee for 2 hours MAX. Maybe less if they’re a smaller breed dog or you have not started training. Do not expect your puppy to automatically hold their pee as this will only be more frustrating for both of you. Setting an alarm on your phone is the easiest way to keep track and save you from always watching the clock.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Playpen or baby gate
- Potty Spot (Pee pad or synthetic grass)
- Busy Toys (such as kongs, puzzle toys, etc)
- High-value treats
- Cleaning Solution
How To Housebreak Spot
Start by restricting where Spot can explore within your apartment. This will allow you to keep a close eye on him to prevent accidents inside as much as possible. Creating a safe space in a crate within play pen is key in potty training because puppies do not want to relieve themselves in the same space they relax and sleep. If you are using a crate, get one that you can adjust to the size of your pup. Only create enough space for them to sleep and relax and expand as Spot grows.
In order to find some sort of schedule, you will need to take Spot outside every hour to start. Each time that Spot pees or poops outside, reward them by giving them a high-value treat. High-value treats can include cheese, hotdogs, etc. Some puppies who are too anxious or distracted to take a treat while they are outside, but will respond well to excitement from YOU. Cheer them when they finish and use your clicker words, such as “YES!” or “GOOD BOY!” It’s important when using these words to exaggerate it and be as cheery as much as possible. This feels really silly at first, but will make the difference when going outside with Spot.
Pro-tip #1: Puppies tend have an easier time doing their business if they have a designated spot that already smells like them. Take them to that spot first to see if it will trigger them to do their business.
After Spot has mostly learned that outside = good, create a routine for him. Puppies tend to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning, after meals, after naps, after extensive play time or training, before/after going in the crate, and before bedtime. As soon as your puppy finishes these activities, pick them up and immediately take them outside.
Pro-tip #2: Keep an eye out for the following signs: pacing, circling, sniffing, hiking, or squatting. If you notice any of these signals at any time inside the home, make a loud noise (like a clap). This will surprise them enough to stop doing what they are doing. Then immediately pick them up and take them outside to finish. When they finish outside, reward them!
Keep These in Mind
Do not EVER punish Spot for making an accident in the home. Sticking their nose in the accident, putting them in a crate immediately etc, will only confuse Spot, cause anxiety and does not teach them anything.
As soon as you get a chance, clean accidents right away with an enzymatic cleanser. This will keep the space from smelling like urine so Spot won’t feel inclined to do their business there again.
When you’re not home, keep Spot in their safe space. As mentioned previously, dogs do not like to do their business in the same space they sleep or relax. Keeping them contained while following the schedule will save your sanity. While they are in their safe space, give them busy toys to stimulate their minds and make them love being there! Ensure that it is a toy they can play with unsupervised like a kong.
Consistency is key. If you work full time – have a family member, friend, neighbor or a regular dog walker help ensure that Spot is not holding in their pee for too long. This will also allow them to get plenty of exercise so they can nap before their next walk.
How to Teach Spot How to Use An Indoor Bathroom Area
If you live in a high-rise building, it may take too long from your apartment to going outside. Consider getting an indoor bathroom spot. This is a great option if you have a smaller pup who can’t quite hold it in.
Step One: Start by placing a pee pad or artificial grass in an accessible area in your home. Choosing an area with tile or linoleum is a good option for easy clean up just in case they have an accident. Keep this pee pad away from their resting area and feeding area.
Step Two: Introduce Spot to the pee pad and limit their access to anywhere else in the home and keep a close eye on them. You can do this after one of the common activities above.
Step Three: Once you notice the signals, place Spot onto the pee pad. Use a clicker word like “go potty!” and allow him to relieve himself.
Step Four: As soon as Spot relieves himself, shower him with love and treats IMMEDIATELY!
Step Five: Consistently do this. Switching between going outside and the pee pad will give Spot options. Slowly move the pee pad to the front door as he improves until you’re able to put it in an outdoor area (if possible).
Using Potty Bells
Potty bells is also another solution to knowing when Spot needs to go outside. This will be helpful in the future when they are completely housebroken and will let you know when they need to go. You can do this hanging a bell by the door and hitting it every time you leave the home with your pup. Do this every single time you leave with Spot and eventually they will associate this noise with going outside.
If you prefer to have Spot ring their own bell, purchase a bell that is made specifically for dogs. This will be easier for them to ring compared to traditional ones. Start by teaching Spot to ring the bell by holding it close to their nose until they bump it. Once the bell jingles, open the door and take your dog outside. Practice this every time you go out for a bathroom break. Keep this bell by the front door. Any time this bell makes a jingle, take Spot outside (even if they bump it accidentally!)
You are Amazing!
In case no one told you yet, you’ve got this! Potty training can be a frustrating process, but having patience and having the right tools is the key to success. The results are always worth it and will save your time, your sanity, and your home.