How to Potty Train a Schnauzer

Medium
1-6 Months
General

Introduction

Potty training is one of the most important things you can train your pup to do. Not only will this help keep your home far cleaner and fresher smelling, but it teaches him to respect your home in the same manner as he would his den out in nature. Potty training a Schnauzer can be challenging at times, but just when you think you can't get any more frustrated, your pup will suddenly figure it all out and start begging you to take him outside, so he can take care of "business".

Defining Tasks

The idea is to teach your pup that at no time is going potty in the house acceptable and that the only place he is allowed to go potty is outside. This might seem like it would be simple, but no matter which method you choose to follow, you should be aware there are going to be accidents. Unless you actually catch your pup in the act, there is no point in punishing him for the mess, he will have no clue why you are upset with him. The best way to succeed with this training is to use positive reinforcement methods. 

Getting Started

There are several things you can do to help the training process along, starting with carefully planning your training strategy. Proper planning is a vital part of any training program, as are supplying your pup with plenty of love, affection, exercise, and good quality food. Be aware that every dog has his or her own personality and you may have to adjust the training methods to suit. You will also need a few supplies, including:

  • A crate – For when you can't always have eyes on your dog
  • Treats – To reward your pup for getting it right
  • Leash – To take him outside on
  • Patience – You will need plenty of this if you want to succeed
  • Time – You need time to work with your dog every day until he is fully potty trained

In reality, the most important part of potty training your pup is your having enough patience and the willingness to work with your pup until he masters this skill. 

The Quick and Simple Method

ribbon-method-2
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Watch your pup
Keep a very close eye on your pup while he is out and about in your home. If he whines, fusses, starts circling one spot, or gives any indication he needs to go potty, be sure you take him out immediately.
Step
2
If he goes
If you take him outside and he goes potty, be sure you praise him and give him a treat.
Step
3
Make a routine
Be sure to take your puppy out as soon as he wakes up in the morning or after a nap and shortly after he eats and drinks.
Step
4
Keep it real
Realistically, puppies can usually be expected to hold their bladder for about one hour per month of their age. Be sure to schedule potty breaks between meals and sleep times so your pup will be in the right place at the right time.
Step
5
Every day a little longer
Keep working with your pup extending the amount of time between trips outside. It will take a while, but in time your pup will learn to go potty out in the yard where his potty on the lawn happens to be.
Recommend training method?

The Crate Training Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Buy a crate
Pick up a crate for your pup. It needs to be just big enough for him to stand up in, turn around in, and lie down in, no more. Anything larger will give him enough room to choose a spot to pee or poop in while leaving the rest of the space to nap in.
Step
2
Find a spot
Choose a spot for his kennel that makes it easy for you to keep an eye on him. Find one that is in the same part of the house the family spends the most time in, so he feels like he is part of the family.
Step
3
Add one pooch
Get your pup comfortable in his crate and place him inside it between potty breaks.
Step
4
Get some relief
At first, take your pup outside every 30 minutes to give him a chance to go potty.
Step
5
Praise works
Be sure that every time your puppy goes potty when you take him outside to his spot on the lawn that you give him plenty of praise and a treat.
Step
6
Keep an eye on your pup
While your pup is loose in the house, keep a close eye on him. If he shows any indication that he is thinking about going potty (sniffing, circling, squatting, lifting a leg) take him straight outside. The longer you work with him, the longer he will be able to hold himself. Keep working with him and in no time at all, he will learn where he is expected to go potty.
Step
7
Never punish him
At no time should you punish your pup verbally or physically for making a mess in the house. If you catch him in the act, you can say "NO!" in a firm voice and take him outside to finish. Reward him when he is done.
Recommend training method?

The Potty Spot Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Choose your schedule
Start by setting up a potty break schedule for your pup, he will do much better at potty training if you follow the schedule very carefully and make sure he gets outside every hour or so.
Step
2
Spray the spot
Using puppy potty training spray available at your local pet store, choose a spot in the yard that your pup can use as his personal toilet and spray your chosen "potty spot" liberally with it.
Step
3
Bring on the Schnauzer
Put your pup on his leash and take him out to the spot. Let him have about 15 minutes to wander around on the leash and go potty. If for some reason he doesn't go, don't worry. Take him back inside and wait a little while before trying again.
Step
4
Times to take him straight outside
There are a number of times when you need to take your pup outside, even if he has gone recently. These include when he wakes up in the morning or after a nap, after a meal, after he drinks a lot of water, and right before bed.
Step
5
Work hard
Continue working on this training until your pup starts to let you know when he needs to go potty. It may take a little time, but your pup will learn to master this important skill even if he does it just to make you happy at first.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lola
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months
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Question
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Lola
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months

My puppy used to walk on a leash like a pro. Now she absolutely refuses to walk on a leash. What causes this behavior and what can I do to help her walk on a leash again?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brisa, Pay attention to pup's body language and the environment. Some pups don't want to walk because they are afraid of a neighborhood dog in a fence barking, construction workers, funny objects (like yard decorations), and things we would never think twice about. If pup isn't familiar with something (no matter how normal it may seem to us) it can feel scary to pup and be a reason why they don't want to leave the safety of the yard. If pup seems nervous or something might be bothering them in the environment, work on helping pup overcome that fear first by using play and treats to distract pup and then reward pup for any confidence, calmness, or tolerance they shows around the fearful thing. Practice this further away from the scary thing first and very gradually work up to pup being able to pass that thing as her confidence grows with your help. Simply spending time sitting outside with pup daily in the environment pup is uncertain of - without expecting walking yet - can help the area become less scary or distracting. Next, spend time getting pup used to leash pressure in general if pup's not familiar with coming forward toward you when there is a leash tug. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Next, if pup still won't walk, take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. If pup won't leave your yard - your first goal is just to leave the yard. When pup reaches that goal - go home as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime. If you make your goal something huge like the whole neighborhood at first you are less likely to succeed - work up to distance overtime. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dog's have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, she will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. I suspect pup is nervous or distracted about the environment or not sure how to respond to leash pressure - so don't skip over desensitizing pup to the environment and leash if pup seems at all nervous about those things - freezing and looking like a deer in headlights is one sign of nervousness. Finally, make sure pup isn't in pain or sick, causing her not to want to exercise in any form due to feeling bad. If you have reason to suspect pup is ill or injured, definitely see your vet. (I am not a vet) Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lola
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months
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Question
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Lola
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months

I’m having trouble getting my puppy fully potty trained. I’ve been using the crate training method and stay on a schedule. I also use a leash, praise her when she goes outside, and keep her in a controlled play area to keep a close eye on her. However, she still won’t notify me when she needs to go and will relieve herself in the house if I don’t take her out in time. It’s been about a month and a half, and she’s still not fully potty trained. How can I teach her to notify me when she needs to go, or does this happen naturally as she gets older? Is she too young to be fully potty trained?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brisa, It takes the average puppy about 2-3 months of potty training work to become potty trained with a good trainer (and longer if pup is given too much freedom or the schedule not followed). Potty trained at this point simply means that pup will try to hold it on their own between scheduled potty trips. Once pup reaches the point where they are trying to hold it between trips, it then takes another 3-6 months for pup to start alerting you when they need to go, so after 2-3 months pup shouldn't be taking accidents if you have been really diligent early on and stick to pup's potty schedule really well, but don't depend on pup to alert before age 6 months. If you do depend on pup to alert too soon and give pup too much freedom and inconsistency with schedule you will actually regress with potty training quite a bit. It sounds like you guys are doing well, just stick to your schedule and give pup more time. Prevent as many accidents as you can to help pup learn the quickest that they can. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rosco
Miniature Schnauzer
8 Weeks
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Question
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Rosco
Miniature Schnauzer
8 Weeks

I want to be able to potty train her and stop her from biting me so much

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

Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty and crate training just in case you want to use the crate to help with potty training. Following all of this is information on nipping/biting. 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. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Rusty
Miniature Schnauzer
1 Year
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Question
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Rusty
Miniature Schnauzer
1 Year

How do I get him to be able to potty in the right place all the time? And also how do I train him to tell me when he needs to potty?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Scott, Many dogs once they have been fully potty trained for about 6 months will begin to alert you they need to go on their own. Occasionally a dog won't learn on their own, in which case I recommend teaching pup to ring a bell when he needs to go outside. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out To teach him to go potty in the correct location outside every time you will need to take pup to that specific spot on leash, tell pup to Go Potty, then reward with a treat when he goes. To teach a specific spot in the yard you will need to do this for several months to create a strong habit of him only going there. When he is inside or in other parts of the yard you do not wish for him to go potty in, you will have to either supervise, confine to a crate, or keep pup leashed if his bladder is not empty. Generally, for inside the home I recommend giving pup 2-3 hours of supervised freedom in the home after they have gone potty outside. After that either attach pup to yourself with a hands free leash or crate pup until it's time to take pup potty again - 3-4 hours after they last went potty. Pup should be able to hold it for longer in a correctly sized crate without anything absorbent in it when you are gone for longer periods during the day and overnight by this age. Don't expect pup to hold it past 7-8 hours during the day however. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Finn
Miniature Schnauzer
1 Year
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Question
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Finn
Miniature Schnauzer
1 Year

My dog is 1 year old and never pees in the house. He can hold is urine for many hours, longer than you would anticipate. He still is having poop accidents in the house. He can be outside for over an hour and come inside and poops. Always in the same area in the kitchen. I always clean the area thoroughly after every accident with Resolve pet cleaner. He won't go poop on a walk or if I have him on a leash for an hour in the yard. I can see he needs to poop but he is stubborn. Just won't do it when I put him out, especially if it is raining. He has an inside accident about once a week, but it would be more often but I am constantly putting him out in my fenced yard. I leave his poop in the yard hopping it will help him remember to go, but it is like he prefers to go inside. What can I do? I am home with him all day because I am retired. He jumps at the door when he wants out and sometimes alerts with a bark, but usually it is because he wants to play and bark outside, not necessarily to go. He is kenneled at night and does usually get up once a night to pee, but usually does not poop at night.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sheila, I recommend crating pup when you can't supervise them and you know they haven't pooped yet, and attaching pup to yourself with a hands free leash when you can supervise, to prevent pup from sneaking off to poop when you aren't around. When outside, tell pup to "Go Potty" and slowly walk pup around on a leash, encouraging pup to sniff. When pup does poop outside, give pup three treats, one at a time while praising. The leash keeps pup from being distracted, the walking about helps pup feel the urge to go. Pup doesn't get freedom until they have pooped during that part of the day. I would stay consistent with that for at least 2 months - crating pup when you can't supervise and tethering them to yourself when you can, unless you know pup doesn't have to poop because they already have during that half of the day. Most dogs will need to poop after eating at some point in the morning, and during the second half of the day, often after dinner. Pay attention to when your dog tends to go and how many times per day, so you will have an idea of whether they are "empty" and can be free or not. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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