How to Potty Train a Labrador Retriever Puppy

How to Potty Train a Labrador Retriever Puppy
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Time icon3-8 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Your Labrador Retriever puppy is going to be a great companion. He will want to work hard around the house, play a lot, and work to please you. When it’s time to start training, trust your Lab puppy is going to do his best to learn everything he can during every training session. 

Potty training your puppy will be easy as long as you are dedicated to setting him up to succeed. He is intelligent and easy to train. You can begin training your Labrador Retriever puppy where to go potty and how to communicate his needs to you as soon as you bring him home. It will take some time and repetitive training for him to connect all the dots, but he will pick it all up quickly as long as you are getting him to his potty places as soon as you can. 

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Defining Tasks

Potty training a Labrador Retriever puppy will require you to have a potty spot set in place before training begins. You should know where you want your little Lab to go potty and avoid making changes to that spot during training. Taking him to his potty spot consistently and on time throughout the day and night will be key to successful potty training your pup. You will need to watch the signs and signals he will give to let you know he needs go. Getting your Lab outside as soon as you see these signals and not letting him have an accident is crucial for conditioning your puppy to let you know he needs to go potty. There will be other times you should be taking your Labrador Retriever puppy outside immediately without waiting for him to give you the signal that he needs to go. These times will include after meals and after waking from any sleep.

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Getting Started

You will need to pay attention to your Labrador Retriever puppy for signs he needs to go potty. Also, try to be around to get him outside every few hours before accidents can occur. You’ll need lots of treats for rewarding positive behaviors and patience, as this will take some practice and time. If you find yourself frustrated, try to catch your puppy earlier and get him outside. 

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The Open Door Method

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1

Go to the door

Train your Labrador Retriever puppy to go to the door he’ll use each time he needs to go outside to go potty. He can knock on this door, bark at this door, or stand at the door and wait for you to open it. Before you take your pup outside to go potty, take him to this door each time. Avoid carrying your pup outside. Set him down at the door and wait a moment before opening it to let him out.

2

Time to go

When it is time to let your Lab out, take him to the door and have him walk outside on his own after you open the door. Do this when he wakes from a nap or first thing in the morning as well as overnight waking to go potty.

3

After eating

After your Lab puppy has finished eating, take him to the door and have him wait for you to open it. You can knock on the door at his level each time and show him how to knock on it himself. Be sure to take him out to go potty after each meal.

4

On the hour

Depending on your Labrador Retriever puppy’s age, he should be able to hold it for an hour per month of age. Before that time is up, be sure to take him to the door to go outside. Once you are at the door together, wait a moment and then open the door to let him outside.

5

Practice

Be sure you are taking your Labrador Retriever puppy to the door and placing him at the door each time you need to get him outside to go potty.

6

Treats

Give your puppy a treat each time he makes it outside to go potty.

7

Command

As your Labrador Retriever is getting used to going to that door, start using a command such as "go potty" to ask him if that is what he needs. He should be able to go to the door to tell you he needs to go or if you ask using the command, he should start heading to the door on his own.

The Know Your Puppy Method

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Sleep and potty

Know your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to go potty as soon as he wakes up in the morning. It is also likely he will need to go potty upon waking from naps. If your Labrador Retriever puppy is awakened and is whining, the urge to go might be what woke him.

2

Meals and potty

You should know your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to go potty about ten minutes after eating each of his meals. Taking him outside about five to ten minutes after his meals will set him up to going potty outside and not inside.

3

Potty hours

Your puppy can usually wait for one hour before going potty for every month of his age. This means if your Lab is four months old, he should be able to wait about four hours before needing to go potty.

4

Overnight

If you are crate training your Labrador Retriever puppy, he will whine in the middle of the night when he needs to go potty. If you are not crate training, you might want to consider keeping your puppy in a place blocked off from the rest of the house so he does not pee in the house. He should require at least one trip outside overnight for the first few months.

5

Rewards

Be sure to give your puppy a treat each time he goes potty outside. This positive behavior based training will condition him to head out when he needs to go and not have an accident inside.

6

Practice

The moment you let your guard down and aren’t watching or paying attention to your Lab puppy or if you are not letting him out after meals and upon waking or every few hours, he is likely to have more accidents. Keep on top of potty training, as exhausting as it is, and your Labrador Retriever puppy will succeed sooner.

The Potty Place Method

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Choose a place

Pick an area within your yard where you will allow your Labrador Retriever to go potty. If you pick one area, you have a good chance of keeping the rest of your yard beautiful and free of dog poop or dying grass from pee spots.

2

Go outside

Take your puppy to the same place in your yard each time he needs to go potty. This will set him up to go to the same place when he starts to go on his own. While you are walking to the area, use words such as ‘go potty’ so he begins to connect going potty with that area.

3

Know when to go

Your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to be taken out to his potty area as soon as he wakes up from any nap or nighttime sleep. Do not make your pup wait. Be sure to get him outside and to his potty spot so he can go potty without having an accident. He’ll also need to go after each of his meals. Be sure to get him outside to his spot within minutes of eating so he has a chance to go when the urge hits.

4

Hourly

Your Labrador puppy should be able to hold it for one hour per month of age. So if you have a nine week old Labrador Retriever puppy, he should be able to wait about two hours to go potty.

5

Rewards

When you take your puppy to his special place and he goes potty, give him a tasty treat. Offering some enthusiasm will also get your pup excited and proud of his achievement.

6

Redirect

Your Labrador Retriever puppy is likely to have accidents if he is not taken outside to his special potty area on time. Be sure to watch for the signs he needs to go such as sniffing in the house or circling in an area inside. Get him outside right away to go potty. In the event your puppy has an accident, get him outside to his potty spot and try to be there earlier next time. Scolding him will be counterproductive.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 02/21/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Kyrie

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Labrador Retriever

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12 Weeks

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He is constantly peeing, as soon as u get back from somewhere I go straight to him as soon as I pick him up he gets excited and starts peeing everywhere as I’m holding him. He will just be getting back in after yawing the bathroom and he will walk into the room and look at me and pee on the floor. You can tell he feels bad, I constantly take him out through the day as much as I can being a college student but at this point I feel like he’s not trying with me

Feb. 16, 2022

Kyrie's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Hello! Here is detailed information on potty training, as well as crate training if 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.

Feb. 16, 2022

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Max

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Black Labrador Retriever

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3 Months

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Max is very stubborn and won’t come to me when I call him

April 18, 2021

Max's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Justin, Check out the two articles I have linked below for teaching come and motivating pup to do it, as you can see from the articles, come is something you start small with and build on gradually to gain reliability. Once pup has learned what come means, keeping a drag leash on pup in the house when you are there to supervise to make sure it doesn't get caught on something can also help them learn. When you tell them to come and they don't, simply go over to them calmly, pick up the end of the leash, then lead them back to where you called them from originally calmly. Repeat that a few times until pup comes willingly when you call, then let them go back to what they were doing before, rewarding their coming also. Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall More come - basic through advanced: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Expect a reliable come to involve a lot of repetition with intentional training sessions to practice that and other obedience commands. Training is mostly practice and consistency. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 19, 2021


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