How to Potty Train a Cairn Terrier Puppy

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Of all the many things you will teach your new Cairn Terrier to do in his lifetime, potty training should be the first and most important. The last thing anyone wants to continue dealing with is a dog who doesn't understand that the only place he is allowed to go potty is outside. One thing many new "puppy parents" tend to do is think they need to wait to begin potty training. On the contrary, you need to start working on this training from the moment you bring your new Cairn Terrier puppy home. 

Defining Tasks

The task is in and of itself, relatively simple in nature. You want your new puppy to learn how to let you know he needs to go outside and that at no time is it ever acceptable for him to go potty in the house. Cairn Terriers are by nature very intelligent pups who tend to learn quickly. Providing you remain consistent in your training efforts, by the time your pup is six months old, he should no longer be making messes inside that you have to clean up.

Getting Started

There are only a few things you need to get started potty training your Cairn Terrier. You need to have a spot in your yard that your pup will use as his personal bathroom. One word here, be sure you keep this spot cleaned up or he may start going in other spots. The only real supplies you need are:

  • Cleaning supplies – To clean up any messes.
  • A crate – For when you need to leave your pup alone and for training purposes.
  • A leash – To take your pup out into the yard.
  • Treats – For when he gets things right.

Beyond this, you need the time to work with your pup on a consistent basis and the patience to see it through until your pup no longer feels the need to go potty in the house.

The Crate Method

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Step
1
The crate
Start by choosing a training crate for your pup. You need one that is big enough for him to stand up, lie down, and turn around in.
Step
2
Relief
Take your pup outside every four hours (every two hours for those under 12 weeks of age) and let him take care of business.
Step
3
Plenty of praise
When your pup relieves himself, be sure you praise him and give him a treat in the designated area.
Step
4
No punishment
Never punish your pup for getting it wrong, accidents are going to happen during the training phase. Chances are he tried to tell you and you just didn't make the connection in time. Clean up the mess and keep working with your pup.
Step
5
Keeping an eye out
Keep an eye out anytime your pup is loose in the house. At the first sign of him thinking about going potty, leash him up and take straight out to his "potty" so that he can take care of business. As he gets older and you work with him, he will learn to "go" outside and not make messes in the house.
Recommend training method?

The Fast and Easy Method

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Step
1
Take one crate
Start out with a crate that is just big enough for your pup to stand up in, lay down in, and stretch out in. Be sure it's not too big or he might be tempted to use one corner as a potty.
Step
2
Well-placed
Choose a spot for the crate where your pup will still be able to feel as though he is part of the family. This should also be in a location where you can keep an eye on him.
Step
3
Watch and wait
Keep a close eye on your pup for any signs that he might want to go outside. These might include barking, whining, crying, or maybe sniffing and scratching at the floor.
Step
4
Lots of praise
Each time you take him outside and he goes potty, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this action several times a day, each time he doesn’t "go" outside put him back in his crate. Then try again in a few minutes. It won't take him long to get the idea that he when he needs to go potty, he needs to let you know.
Step
5
From here to eternity
The rest is all about spending time with your pup reinforcing the training you have been putting him through until he no longer messes in the house. Be sure to use lots of praise and treats to let him know he is doing a good job.
Recommend training method?

The Potty on the Spot Method

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Step
1
Set your schedule
Your pup needs strict routines when it comes to certain things, one of which is going potty at first. His first potty training step is for you to set up a routine or schedule--one which you and your pup must follow religiously if you want it to succeed.
Step
2
Grab some spray
Run out to your local pet store and pick up a spray bottle of potty training solution. This stuff is great, it attracts your pup to the area that you spray and also encourages him to go potty.
Step
3
Enter one Cairn Terrier pup
Time to hook your pup up to his leash and take him out to this newly marked patch of ground. Give him 15 minutes to go potty and if he doesn't, take him inside. Give him a few minutes and try again.
Step
4
Times to take him straight out
There are a few days when you need to take your pup out immediately. When he starts to look like he might be getting ready to go, first thing in the morning, after playtime, after meals and large amounts of water, and right before bed.
Step
5
Keep it going
Keep working on your training until your pup finally figures out that he needs to be doing his business outside and not in the house. Be patient, it will happen in good time.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Gunner
Cairn Terrier
6 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Gunner
Cairn Terrier
6 Months

My Cairn Terrier puppy is 5 1/2 months old and continues to have accidents. He may have them maybe three or four times a week. It’s always urine, never feces. I give him lots of praise when he does go outside; my question is should he be potty trained by now?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nancy, Some dogs, especially small dogs, do tend to take longer to potty trained. It is unlikely that he would never have another accident by 5 1/2 months, but it should be getting a lot better by now. The issue could be how much freedom he is being given. The more accidents that he has, the more successful trips outside it will take for to undo those accidents and for him to learn. This means that the more accidents you can prevent the quicker the training will go. I suggest crate training or attaching himself to you using a six or eight-foot leash. These two methods ensure that he cannot sneak off to pee. A combination of both methods is ideal sometimes. When you are home and want him with you, you can attach him to yourself by clipping his leash to your pants, and take him potty every two to three hours. When you cannot watch him, need to leave, or simply need a break, then put him into the crate with a wonderful food stuffed chew toy, so that he can entertain himself. In a crate that is the proper size, he should be able to hold his pee for five hours during the day since he is older. You can take him out every three hours while using a crate, to give him more opportunities to learn and to make him more comfortable though. After he pees outside, only give him two hours of freedom outside the crate. After that, put him back into the crate until it is time to take him back outside. This ensures that he is never free when his bladder could be full. Crate Training also helps prevent future separation anxiety, teaches him how to calm himself down, chew on his own toys when he is bored, and not bark if you give him a food stuffed toy to work on in the crate. Check out the article that I have linked below and the "Crate Training" and "Tethering" methods found there. You can do one of those or a combination of those. Also, start giving him four treats, one a time whenever he goes potty outside. The crate should be just give enough for him to turn around, lay down, and stand up. Too much extra space may encourage him to pee in there too if he can pee in one end and stand in the other end to avoid it. If your crate is larger, then you can block off the back section with a metal divider that comes with many crates or something else that he cannot chew up. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Max
Cairn Terrier
13 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Max
Cairn Terrier
13 Months

He still pees in a diaper. But will also let me know when he needs to go out. He was a rescue puppy that somebody dumped when he was about six months old. I have the diaper on him because I have wood floors and don’t want him wetting on them. So I’m at my wits end as to how to get him potty trained and not go in the diaper at all

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I highly recommend crate training pup and temporarily pup should always be either tethered to you with a hands free leash or in the crate while learning, unless you know he has just peed AND pooped and you have eyes on him 100%. That method will only give pup freedom when his bladder is empty if followed closely - to avoid as many accidents as possible. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the smell and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 2.5- 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if he has an accident sooner) of freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-8 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. If he hasn't gone poop yet during that half of the day, he needs to be tethered to you or returned to the crate, then taken back outside again in 30-45 minutes if you know he likely needs to go, less frequently if he likely doesn't need to poop. Pooping outside equals more freedom. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. Work on teaching "Quiet" by using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bruce
Cairn Terrier
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bruce
Cairn Terrier
6 Months

He is almost potty trained but still will pee inside almost every day. I take him out 3 or times a day and walk him twice a day.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
131 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on potty training, as well as crate training just in case you decide to use a crate to help with potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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