Cute and helpless, newborn puppies rely on their mama for everything from food to potty breaks for the first few weeks of life. After about two weeks, the pup undergoes a whirlwind of growth and development, which allows him to eat, move and potty all on his own.
Mama Cleans Him Up
Born deaf, blind and unable to do more than squirm toward his mama, a puppy would seem to have entered the world before all development is done. From birth to about 2 weeks old, your puppy is completely dependent on Mama. Her milk provides him with all the nutrition and antibodies he needs, and her tongue keeps him clean -- even when nature calls. Puppies cannot control their bowels to relieve themselves, and rely on their mama to lick their nether regions to stimulate potty time. When he goes, she cleans up the mess. Gross, yes, but a vital chore to keep the den area clean and keep everyone safe.
Go When the Urge Strikes
At about the two week mark, your puppy's development clicks into warp speed. His senses develop, allowing him to see, hear and interact with the world. Usually around the age of 2 or 3 weeks, he'll start getting the urge to go and toddle out to relieve himself. He won't need Mama to help, but he'll generally just let loose where he's standing. Puppies this age don't really have any bladder control, and when he feels the need to go, he will. Once your pup starts peeing and pooping by himself, getting him outside every few hours is a good idea.
Let's Go Outside
When your puppy first starts going potty by himself, there are going to be accidents. He can't control himself and is just learning those particular “having to go” sensations. You can never start house-training too early, even if it doesn't click for a while. Puppies generally need to potty within 30 minutes after eating or waking, so make it a habit to take him out immediately after meal times and naps. If he has an accident inside, clean the mess thoroughly with an enzyme-based cleaner that will completely eliminate the odor. If he can smell it, he'll return to the spot.
Potty Training Dos and Don'ts
For puppies just starting this whole going-by-themselves thing, you'll spend a lot of time outside. A good rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their bladder one hour per month of age. So if your pup is only about 1 month old, he needs to go out every hour. Don't expect your puppy to just learn to hold it, because his tiny bladder can only hold so much for so long. Don't punish him for any indoor accidents, just clean it up and take him outside more often. Take him out after eating, waking and regularly in between. Reward and praise him when he goes potty outside, using little treats or lots of love. Never send him out by himself -- always go with him, especially when he's little. It could take him a while to get the hang of it, but consistency and a good attitude on your part can help it go smoothly.
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