How Professionals Potty Train their Australian Shepherds
You have a new Aussie puppy! Congratulations on picking the best breed ever. I got my first Aussie when I was 14 years old….and have had one or more since then! That’s a LONG time! I have potty trained a LOT of dogs and here’s what you need to know about potty training your puppy. Follow this step-by-step guide and you will have a potty trained Aussie puppy.
Pro Tip: Be Patient. Some Aussies learn the potty game very quickly. Others take time. Puppies that were raised by the breeder in a clean environment typically potty train quicker, but it is not always a guarantee.
Step 1: Puppies have tiny bladders. They need to go out frequently. The key times to take a puppy out to pee are:
-After eating or drinking
- After playing
Anticipating your puppy's needs to pee will dramatically reduce potty training time. Getting your puppy outside before they have an accident is key to potty training.
Step 2: Reward the Proper Potty
As soon as your Australian Shepherd puppy pees or poops in the correct place in the yard, give them a small treat! I also say, “Good Potty!” It is important to associate “Go Potty” or whatever your command will be with the behavior, and reward them when they do it. Some people use the word “Hurry” as their potty command. But you can choose any command you want to pair with the potty.
If you take them out and they don’t potty or poop and start playing, don’t give them a treat. Just take them inside and put them in their crate. Give it about 15-20 minutes and try again. Potty training is serious business and as cute as they are when they are playing, potty time is a no-play time. Play time happens after the potty.
Once they have emptied out, you can play and enjoy them leak free for a bit!
Step 3: Correct the Naughty Potty
When your puppy potties or poops in the house, a correction must be made. Remember that your Aussie isn’t making a mistake on purpose. So don’t overreact. Make a gentle but firm correction. Simply tell the puppy “No” or “Bad Puppy” in a firm voice and pick them up and take them out to the puppy potty place. Wait for them to potty and then praise them and give them a little treat. “What a good puppy!” If they don’t finish their potty or poop, take them back in and put them in their crate. Wait 10-20 minutes and bring them out again.
Rubbing their nose in their mistake or other physical punishment does not improve your success in potty training.
PRO TIP: Don’t hold a grudge. Puppies don’t have a long memory and no matter what anyone tells you, they don’t hold grudges, so neither should you.
Step 4: Restrict their Roll (Keep your Aussie’s Range Small)
Restrict young puppies space. Don’t let them roam around the whole house. I use exercise pens to keep my puppies near me and out of trouble. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Puppies can get into a lot of trouble at a young age, especially Aussie puppies!
As your puppy grows up and becomes more mature, you can give them access to more and more space.
Restricting their space will help with potty training because you can watch easily for tell-tale pre-potty behavior (like sniffing the ground, etc). Most puppies don’t want to potty where they play so keeping them in a smaller area teaches them to hold it. Be sure to take them out frequently to prevent mistakes in the play area.
Step 5: Crate Train Your Australian Shepherd Puppy
Training your puppy to be comfortable in the crate is an important life skill whether you plan to use a crate beyond puppyhood or not. Crates are such useful tools and can potentially save your dog’s life. When I get a new puppy, I tend to keep them in their small restricted play area or the crate when I am not directly interacting with them.
At night I put the crate by my bed so when they wake up and whine or fuss, I can stick my fingers through the crate to comfort them. Unless they have to potty, they will usually go back to sleep.
As soon as I hear them fussing or whining at night and it has been awhile since they were out, I will get up and put them out immediately. I will carry small puppies to the potty area. If you don’t, they will jump out of the crate and pee first thing. Once they are older, they will get the routine down and head for the door.
6. Be consistent and Patient
Most Australian Shepherds take easily to potty training, but some don't. Be patient. Don’t give up. Keep the routine going. If you are seeing fewer accidents, you are making progress. If you start seeing more accidents, go back a few steps and give it time. I have found when you are consistent and use the steps above, it seems one day they just get it and then you have made it. Once potty trained, you rarely have issues again. If you see issues again, just go back to the beginning and it will be an easy fix.
If your puppy just won’t potty train or pees excessively, it’s time for a vet check. Bladder infections or other urinary infections can wreak havoc with potty training and are very uncomfortable for the puppies.
Congratulations on your new puppy, who if cared for properly will be your best friend for the rest of their life.
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