One of the first big hurdles you must overcome with a new puppy is house training. It’s the one thing that puppies need to learn as quickly as possible to minimize mess and put them well on their way to maturity.
However, potty training isn’t easy! It’s a full-time job that requires tons of attention.
Young canines have small bladders and can’t hold their urine in for very long. As a result, accidents will happen. They can be a huge problem at night when you doze off to sleep and can’t keep a constant watch on your dog.
So what do you do? Should you use pee pads?
The Problem with Pee Pads
The go-to for many novice puppy parents is to line a crate with puppy pads. On paper, it makes sense. You want to keep your puppy contained throughout the night to avoid accidents and messes throughout your home.
A crate placed in your bedroom is the way to do that. With how poorly puppies hold their bladder, you might assume it’s wise to line it with pee pads.
But here’s the reality: You must avoid that mistake!
That’s right; the common practice of using pee pads in crates is not the recommended approach. It’s not just us who think that. Vets, trainers, and behaviorists all agree, too.
Pee pads can be a useful tool in your potty training arsenal, but using them in a crate ultimately teaches your puppy that it’s OK to urinate where they sleep.
It sets your puppy’s progress back and can create additional behavioral problems you’ll need to correct.
Consider how much damage it can also cause to your puppy’s health and well-being.
Pee pads contain a layer of plastic that puppies can chew off. They could easily choke on that material while you’re sleeping. Furthermore, some dogs will experience stress and anxiety, having to sleep in their own filth.
It’s an all-around bad idea that you should avoid. Pee pads have a purpose, but you should never use them to line a crate at night.
So if you can’t use pads overnight, when can you use them?
Pee pads are best for those who live in an apartment or don’t have the means to leave the house multiple times a night. In those cases, you can use pads to designate an in-house toilet for your dog. But even then, there’s a chance that it could confuse your dog.
You must choose the same spot every day and get your dog used to using the pad. Then, your training needs to focus on moving your dog’s potty breaks outside.
Related: Best Indoor Dog Potty Systems
How to Successfully Potty Train a Dog at Night
Housebreaking your puppy can feel like an uphill battle, and there will be moments when you don’t want to deal. But remember that the struggle you’re going through will pay off in the end.
This challenge is only temporary, and you must have patience and support your pup.
The best way to potty train a puppy is to take them out whenever they exhibit signs of wanting to pee. This requires you to listen closely.
Many dog owners raising puppies will keep crates close to their beds at night so that they can easily detect when it’s time to go.
Hopefully, you’ve already learned to read your dog. You probably watch them closely throughout the day and spring into action whenever you see those telltale signs. Your pooch may start whining, pacing back and forth, and pawing at the door. Many of those same signs exist at night.
Some younger dogs will whine just because they need some comfort at night. But eventually, they’ll calm down and limit whines and noise to times of potty stress! It’s your job to listen up and take action.
Quickly bring your pup outside like you normally would whenever your dog is ready.
Understanding What Your Puppy Can Handle
No one said potty training a puppy would be easy!
If you have difficulty getting up or listening to your furry friend’s calls, you can try to understand their pee habits better and create a schedule. Some dog owners see great success in setting multiple alarms to bring out their dogs.
As a general rule of thumb, puppies can hold their bladders for about an hour per month of age. So a four-month puppy can usually hold it in for four hours before they release the floodgates.
For a six-month-old pup, it’s six hours, and so on.
Of course, this isn’t an exact science. Smaller dogs will need to go out sooner. However, you can use that trick to get a better idea of when to let them out.
Establish a Routine
One of the best things you can do to optimize your potty training efforts is to set a nighttime routine. Your goal is to get your pup comfortable with going outside and slowly increasing the time they need between potty breaks. The earlier you have a pattern, the better!
Provide the final meal of the day approximately one hour before bed. Then, take your dog out to do its business before hitting the hay.
Keep your timeline tight every night. Falling into a rhythm will make it easier for your pup to understand what they need to do.
Another important tip is to treat outside time seriously.
Avoid playing with your dog during these brief outings. You want them to learn that these short trips outside are for doing their business and nothing more.
Provide simple commands in an authoritative voice. You can use something as simple as “wee wee.” Establishing this command will encourage your dog to do what it needs to do.
Provide praise when they urinate or defecate, but don’t get too excited. Remain calm, pay little attention to their pleas for play, and lead them directly to bed. Follow that same routine when taking them out in the middle of the night.
Overcoming the Potty Training Hurdle
As long as you stick to your training techniques, your dog will get better and better with every passing night. They’ll slowly learn how things work.
Your pup’s ability to hold its bladder will also improve, buying you much more time between potty sessions. Before you know it, your dog will be fully housebroken, and you can finally kick those accidents to the curb!