Potty training your new puppy may be the greatest reason why so many families don’t want a dog or have surrendered their current dog. We have personally potty trained over 350 puppies in the past 10 years. We have learned through much experience the “art” of potty training English Golden Retriever puppies and below are some very important tips on how to potty train your Golden Retriever or any other breed.
Never Trust Your Golden Retriever!
First and most important, do not trust your Golden Retriever. Recherche Goldens spends two-thirds of their training hours house training each individual puppy. Nevertheless, we don’t trust them. We watch them diligently at all times in the house. We block off areas in our house so they are not able to wander off out of view. The biggest mistake families make is allowing their puppy to wander freely and are shocked to find an “accident” in the bedroom or a shoe chewed up in the laundry room. Again, do not trust them! The Bible verse for puppy training is “Lead me not into temptation…” (Matt. 6:13). Even if they don’t have a problem with pottying in the house, they most likely will be going through a chewing/destructive phase from around 5-12 months of age. Never leave a puppy alone without supervision. If you are not able to watch your English Cream Golden carefully then you need to crate your pup or put your pup outside.
Catch Your Puppy “In the Act!”
The greatest success you can have is to have your puppy cry, whine, bark or even ring a bell to use the restroom outside. The goal of every dog owner is to train your puppy to communicate to you that they need to use the restroom outside. The second greatest success may surprise you. Some think never giving your puppy the opportunity to potty inside is the key. I don’t believe that. We believe in watching your puppy carefully and giving your puppy the chance to communicate. If they don’t communicate and squat to go, then there’s a golden opportunity to verbally correct your puppy. Whenever I see a puppy start doing the pace back and forth or the circling, I wait and get ready to pounce. At the moment they start squatting, we jump up and strongly correct verbally with a “Bad!” “No!” Depending how close they are we may also clap our hands and stomp our feet as we make our way to them. The severity of our correction depends on the sensitivity of our puppy. Some pups are very sensitive and just need a soft “Uh, Uh!” and to stop immediately. Some pups are just a little more strong-willed and it takes a very loud “NO!” for them to stop their potty and be taken outside. Once they potty outside we praise them and reward them if we have a treat available. We recommend having a “Lickety Stik” or a small bag of treats to give to your pup by your door. If you are consistent and persistent your English Golden will learn that going inside is wrong and outside is good. Now what I’m about to say is VERY important. If you find an “accident” on the floor then it means you have failed and not the puppy. If a puppy is able to potty out of sight and you were not able to catch them, then you were either too distracted, too busy or didn’t block them off. Always make sure they are being watched and if they have an accident you are able to correct them immediately. If you discover an accident then tell yourself “That is my fault.” It’s not your puppies fault…it’s your fault. Never correct a puppy after the fact. Until they get older, they have a very short memory and can’t remember why you are yelling at them. Also, never “rub your dog’s nose in it.” English cream Golden Retrievers are very sensitive and smart. They want to please you. If you physically correct them, you are simply going to make your Golden Retriever scared of you. You will lose their trust and continued training will be hampered.
Be Mindful of Pitfalls for Goldens!
Recherche Goldens spot trains every puppy and we never allow our pups to use the restroom on hard surfaces. We train our pups to use the restroom only on pine shavings, grass or dirt. They are trained from even before they are weaned to do this. On the other hand, there are certain areas of a home that are very much a pitfall for a puppy. These are areas that appear very much like grass or dirt. Areas they tend to favor for accidents include carpet, rugs, doggy beds, etc… Whenever they are in these areas they will believe they are on a potty spot and be more prone to potty. Watch them carefully in these areas. If your puppy does have an accident, clean it up very well to take the smell out using a carpet cleaner like Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and if they can smell their potty they will be much more prone to potty there again and again. If they are pottying on the same spot constantly another helpful thing you can do is to feed them on the potty spot. They naturally do not want to sleep or eat where they potty so that can help discourage them.
Know Your Golden Retriever’s “Schedule!”
Remember that a puppy will need to use the restroom after they wake up in the morning, after naps, after playing hard and after eating. During the day, a 12-week old puppy (Puppy Academy) usually will not hold their restroom for longer than 1-2 hours a day. A 16-week old pup (Canine College) can do around 2-3 hours and a 6-month-old (Doggy Doctorate) can hold it around 3-4 hours a day. If you keep a consistent schedule with feeding and pottying them, they will be much faster at mastering potty training at your home. We personally have been feeding them first thing in the morning around 8 am and again around 2-3 pm. We feed them 1 ½ cups of food at each sitting. If they are having problems with constant urination then perhaps it would help to monitor their water intake. Some Golden Retrievers love water….I mean LOVE water. I had a puppy that drank and drank and drank all day long. You can just imagine how many times we had to potty that dog! It seemed ever 30-60 minutes I had to let them out for potty!
In the Beginning…
The beginning is very important when you take them home. Make sure you teach them where to potty. Take them to the exact same spot to potty every time. Take your Golden out the exact same door every time. Use the same key word when pottying your puppy (like “Let’s Go” or “Potty”). Treat when you potty them. Buy some pine shavings and sprinkle it around where you want them to use the restroom. Some families even have purchase bells or the Tell Bell and put them on the door. You can teach your English Golden Retriever to ring the bells or Tell Bell every time they need to use the restroom. There’re many great YouTube videos on doing this. One of them can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQTTm5YeqEI.