I tried to explain litter box transitions to everyone when they visited...but I know that sometimes it is better to have things written down. So here are some ideas to help set your puppy up for success with his or her new litter box...
Your puppy (along with ALL his siblings) has been consistently using the litter box at our home since he/she could walk. That does not guarantee that he will recognize your plastic box as a potty spot. Your puppy will have to LEARN that your plastic box is his/her new litter box. To help your puppy to understand his new potty spot you will need the following:
When you empty your litter box, do NOT wash it! You need to have some of the odor remain…or at least keep a tiny bit of used litter in the box when you add the fresh litter. The smell only needs to be subtle…as puppies have a very acute nose. I don’t want you to have a stinky home! I always empty our litter box if I start to smell it….and I always pick up and flush the puppy poops down the toilet, as soon as I see them.
If you use a cat litter box, make sure the sides are low on one side so your puppy can easily get in. If you use wood pellets, you will want to transition to paper pellets to reduce the amount of sawdust that tracks onto your puppies paws. But transition to paper pellets gradually by adding a little more to the box every day.
In the House:
Confine your puppy in a pen or small area and put him in the litter box after every play time, or nap. Don’t give your puppy a chance to pee anywhere but in his litter box for the first few days. Your puppy should adopt his new litter box within the first few days and start using it reliably.
Your puppy should not be allowed to run freely around the house. If he does, he may not be able to get back to the litter box in time. He will have an accident and then you are setting yourself up for future potty accidents.
If you want your puppy to follow you around the house…have him on a leash so you will see when he needs to go to the potty.
For the first several months I recommend that your puppy be kept in his pen when you cannot be with him. When you are playing with him inside, keep him in a single room with a litter box within a few feet of him.
Beginning Outdoor Potty Training:
When to begin outdoor potty training is an individual decision based on your lifestyle. I would at least wait for your puppy to become adjusted to your new home (perhaps the first week). After that you can start a out door potty training schedule. You may wish to keep the litter box in the house to avoid in door potty accidents. I would also recommend using your litter box at night time so your puppy doesn't wake you up to go. But feel free to do what seems right for your family and your puppy.
When does a puppy gain full bladder control?
Your puppies bladder is still very immature and does not yet have full control. He will not be capable holding his bladder reliably until he/she is 7 months old. That is the age that most dog owners find that their dog is fully reliable with outdoor potty training. At that age, most dogs can hold their bladder for several hours.
Puppy Potty Training is about Owner Training!
Your puppy wants to use the potty in his designated potty spots….but it is up to you to make that easy for him. When puppies have accidents it is NOT the fault of the puppy, but it is usually the owner who did not set the pup up for success. Make sure your puppy always has EASY access to his litter box. Learn to recognize your puppies signs when he has to go potty! Use a schedule with outdoor potty training so you learn to recognize the natural potty times of your puppy.
If your home was previously occupied with a dog or cat that urinated on the carpets or flooring…you may have more difficulty training your puppy. Do not let your puppy frequent carpeted areas with previous pet stains…he will smell ammonia and think it is OK to pee there. There are many Enzyme cleaners on the market that are suppose to neutralize pet odors…but it is very difficult to get the smell out completely…especially if it has soaked through to the padding under the carpet. It is better to keep your puppy away from the smelly carpet as much as you are able until your puppy is fully reliable and has a mature bladder.