Paper Training Your Puppy

An alternative to using crate training to help potty train, is to paper train your puppy. You can use either newspapers or special potty pads that are scented to encourage your puppy to eliminate on the potty pad. The idea is to gradually decrease the use of the paper/potty area, and also to move from using the paper inside the house to outside the house, then outside without the paper or pads.

One Important Note

I believe crate training is the best and most important tool for potty training your puppy. However, I am realistic because people have to go to work or school during the day. You cannot leave a puppy in the crate for more than a few hours at a time.

Unless you are going to come home every few hours, or have a dog walker come over every few hours and take your puppy to go potty, then paper training may be a good situation for you. Paper training may be used in conjunction with crate training, but not as a substitute in my opinion.

The downsides to paper training is that:

  • Your puppy will be going potty inside the house for a time.
  • You will have to double-train your puppy using a crate at the same time, or at a later time.
  • Puppies don’t always hit the paper or potty pad.

Some of the upsides to paper training are:

  • You can leave to go to work and school without having to come home during the day.
  • Your puppy will have his own area to move around in and go potty when he needs to.

It may smell a little during this training period, but what is your alternative if you are gone all day? DO NOT leave your puppy in the yard all day, or your puppy will take a very long time to potty train, and may never learn. Then you would never want to let your dog into your house, and this is not the reason you got a dog in the first place.

Paper training will take patience, and the puppy should never be punished for making mistakes. They should be praised and rewarded for doing things correctly, not punished for doing the wrong thing. There will be accidents, this is just inevitable, no matter what training technique you use.

If your puppy does have an accident, be sure to clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the odors completely. Your puppy will return to the same spot to eliminate if any smell remains, so make sure you clean it well.

Paper Training Basics

The key to paper training is to enclose your puppy in an area, such as a kitchen, laundry room, garage, etc. and to have potty pads or newspapers set out in one corner for their potty area. Do not give them too much room. Give them just enough room to have a place to sleep, a place for water, some room to move around, and a place in the corner to go potty.

Choose only one area to confine your puppy. This area should have a hard floor, not carpet. Once you choose where you will confine your puppy, use this area only. Do not move the area around, do not leave paper or potty pads anywhere else in the house other than in their confined area where they will stay when you go to the store, go to work, go to dinner, etc. Use an x-pen or gates to confine your dog and to create a cozy space for them.

To teach them to go on the paper, simply put them on the leash and lead them to the paper or potty pads. Give the command to ‘go potty’ and allow them to sniff around. Keep telling them this command until they go. Once they go potty, give them lots of praise. Make a big deal about it and make sure your puppy knows they did a good job.

If your puppy does not go potty, go play with them for a while, and return and try again after about 10 minutes. You may also want to wait until your puppy eats or drinks water first, then take them over to their paper or potty pads and repeat the process.

By doing this for a few times, your puppy will quickly learn that the paper or potty pads is where they are supposed to go potty. This will be your puppy’s area whenever he is out of his crate and you cannot watch him, or if you have to leave. By using this technique, WITH other proper potty training techniques such as crate training and training them to go potty outside, your puppy will quickly be potty trained.

You can learn more about paper training to easily potty train your puppy.

Crate Training Your Dog

A client of mine asked me about crate training a dog. She felt it is cruel to put the dog in the crate where they are confined in such a small area. Well, it could be cruel, if it it is not done properly. Crate training your dog is a great potty training technique, and definitely has its benefits.

Here is how I answered her.

One of the best things you can do for your dog and for you is to integrate crate training into your lives. It takes time and patience, but it will be well worth it. Some people protest the use of crates and think it’s cruel. Remember that they’re thinking in terms of being human, not a dog.

We humans might not like being in an enclosed space, but dogs think differently. If properly trained, dogs will think positively about their crates, viewing them as safe havens just for them.

The idea behind crate training is that the dog should view the crate as his den, somewhere where he feels safe and comfortable. It’s a place he doesn’t mind going to when you ask him to, or when he just feels like it.

For you, this is a safe, convenient way to confine and control your dog. The crate is a great tool for times when you are out of the house and need to leave your dog unsupervised. And with your dog used to a crate, traveling in a car while in a crate will be no problem.

First, choose an appropriate crate for your dog. You want the crate to become your dog’s “den,” so pick one that he can stand up and turn around in comfortably. But you don’t want it too large so that he might be tempted to use one corner as a toilet. Place it somewhere where it’s quiet, but also in a room where he can still be part of the family.

Introduce your dog to its crate by leaving it out with the door open. Put a soft piece of material, such as a towel or blanket, inside, unless you are potty training him. In this case, do not add any bedding. You can also put his favorite toys inside.

Entice your dog into investigating his new den by placing a treat into it. When he does go inside, give him plenty of praise and affection. You always want your dog to associate pleasant, positive feelings with the crate.

Leave the crate door open in the beginning. Just let your dog go in and out as he pleases. As time goes on, use treats and a command, such as “crate time,” to show your dog you want him to enter the crate.

You can feed your dog near or in the crate, creating more positive association with the crate. While he’s
eating, you can begin closing the door for a few minutes at a time. Do this several times a day.

As your dog gets accustomed to the door being closed, increase the time you have it closed. Stay by the crate at first, then leave for a few minutes at a time. Remember not to do too much too soon. Take your time and be patient. This whole process may take weeks.

When your dog can stay in the crate comfortably and happily for a half an hour or more, you can leave the house for a time. When you leave the house and when you come home, don’t make a big production out of it. Keep arrivals and departures low-key and quiet.

Also crate the dog from time to time when you’re still in the house so your dog doesn’t think being crated means being alone.

If you’ve progressed to crating him at night, you might want to keep the crate in or near your bedroom so you can hear him make noise when he needs to eliminate. When you do let him out, make sure he knows it’s just for a potty break. Take him straight outside and give your usual command for going potty.

If your dog is still a puppy, keep in mind that he will need to go potty every two hours or so, depending on his age. Since a dog will tend not use his “den” as a toilet, you will have to pay attention to the time your puppy spends in the crate and let him out for potty breaks.

The crate is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of deal. You are responsible for the proper use of the crate and
the care for your dog.

Puppies younger than nine weeks should not be crated. Always let your dog go potty before crating and try not to crate any age dogs longer than six hours. Also, limit the amount of water your dog drinks before going into his crate. Let him drink, but allow him time to go potty after drinking and before going into the crate.

If your dog cries when in the crate, and you have followed all the rules about drinking water and making sure he has done his potty, do not let him out. He is crying for attention and trying to manipulate you. If you let him out,he will figure out that if he wants to be let out, all he has to do is cry. Let him out only when he has stopped crying. This will be his reward.

Never use the crate as a punishment. You might be tempted to send your dog into the crate as a “time out” when he’s been naughty, but that will only create problems and negative association with the crate. Correct the bad behavior, replace it with a good behavior, and carry on as normal.

The crate is not a replacement for proper training. If you need help with crate training, ask a reputable dog
trainer.