One of the most important first steps when you bring home your new Rottweiler puppy is house training, aka potty training.
The process of training your Rottweiler puppy to learn the appropriate time and place to eliminate takes determination and patience. The key is to remember that successful potty training is based on positive reinforcement and NOT punishment.
So how do you potty train your new Rottweiler puppy?
How to Potty Train a Rottweiler Puppy
Potty training should begin with developing a schedule that both you and your Rottweiler puppy can follow. You may also wish to use a repeatable phrase, such as “bathroom” or “potty,” each time you take your puppy to the elimination area so that they learn to associate that word with the action. Here are some do’s and don’ts of potty training a puppy.
Do’s of Potty Training
Follow these simple tips, and you will have your puppy potty trained before you know it!
Take Your Puppy Out Often. New puppies, especially those under 12 weeks of age, should be taken outside every one to two hours. Before 12 weeks of age, puppies are still developing the muscles necessary to hold their eliminations. It is also a good habit to take your puppy out after sleeping, playing, eating, or drinking.
Stick to a Feeding Schedule. Typically, it is recommended to feed your puppy two meals a day. Feed each meal at the same time each day. Dogs will naturally eliminate shortly after eating, so developing a consistent feeding schedule can avoid confusion and accidents in the house.
Use Crate Training as an Aid to Potty Training. Crate training is a very effective tool to help not only with potty training your puppy, but also with creating a safe place for your puppy to call home. Dogs are naturally den animals, so their instincts will tell them to find a quiet place to eat and rest at the end of the day. Dogs do not like to eliminate where they sleep or eat, so training your puppy to be comfortable in a crate is a great way to prevent them from having accidents in the house. The crate should not be used as punishment, but it should be used whenever your puppy cannot be directly supervised and for naptime and bedtime. Choosing the correct crate size is extremely important, especially for Rottweilers that grow rapidly during puppyhood. Keep in mind that your puppy should only have enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Any more room will give your dog room to rest in one corner and pee or poop in the other. Many crates come with a divider that can be moved as your puppy grows.
Always Practice Positive Reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the key to successful potty training. Positive reinforcement will teach your Rottweiler puppy that they get rewarded for going to the bathroom outside. Each time your puppy eliminates outside, immediately reward them with verbal praise, treats, or a favorite toy. The reward should immediately follow the event so that your puppy makes a positive association with eliminating outside.
Recognize When Your Puppy Needs to Go Out. Constant supervision is another important part of successfully potty training a puppy. Learning the clues or signals that indicate that your puppy needs to eliminate will prevent unnecessary accidents in the house. Most dogs will sniff, make circles, wander off, whine, or sit by the door to indicate they need to go to the bathroom.
Put Your Puppy on a Leash for Potty Breaks. You should always put your puppy on a leash when you go outside for a potty break. This will not only help get them comfortable with being on a leash, but you will also be right there to reward the good behavior. Furthermore, if your puppy is not on a leash, they will most likely start playing instead of finding a potty spot. You want to teach them to do their business right away, not play for 20 minutes then go find a potty spot. After giving a positive reward for a good potty, play with your puppy outside for a few minutes to avoid creating a negative connection with returning inside.
Don’ts of Potty Training a Puppy
You may have heard some conflicting advice on potty training your Rottweiler puppy. Here’s what you should NOT do.
Using Potty Pads With Crate Training. Puppy potty pads should not be used as a substitute for going outside, unless you have a special situation such as living in a high-rise apartment or have limited mobility. Allowing puppies to eliminate on potty pads inside the house can confuse your puppy about where they’re allowed to eliminate. This may slow down the potty training process and should be avoided if possible.
Using Punishment Instead of Positive Reinforcement. Punishment is never an acceptable or successful training methodology. Outdated “training techniques” used to suggest hitting a dog with a newspaper or rubbing their face in their excrement to “teach them a lesson.” Dogs do not associate these behaviors with doing something wrong. Instead, punishment teaches your puppy to become fearful of their owners or other people who try to punish them. Remember that potty training takes patience and kindness!
Not Following a Schedule. Failing to adhere to a consistent potty break and feeding schedule can create confusion for your puppy, and therefore leads to more accidents in the house. Having a puppy is a big responsibility, and it is your job to stick with the schedule and constantly supervise your puppy as you would a child. The more frequent trips outside, the better! The more often your puppy is allowed to successfully eliminate outside, the more quickly they will become potty trained!
Potty Training Troubleshooting
Here are a few common ways that puppy potty training goes wrong, and how to get things back on track.
There is Something Medical That is Influencing Your Puppy’s Behavior. Medical reasons for potty training problems are too often overlooked. If your puppy is only having urine accidents, is urinating with extreme frequency, and/or you see a drastic change in your puppy’s bathroom habits, your first visit should be to your veterinarian to check for any underlying medical issues.
You Need to Adjust Your Confinement Strategy. Confining your puppy is a necessary component to successful potty training. If your puppy is having accidents in their confinement area (crate or playpen) it is most likely too large of a space.
You Are Missing Accidents. This is the reason both confinement and active supervision are so important to the puppy potty training process. Every time you miss an accident, you’ve just extended the length of time it is going to take to potty train your puppy. In order for your puppy to fluently learn any behavior (in this case, eliminating outside) they must have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don’t want. If your puppy has an accident and doesn’t get any feedback, they are never going to understand what is expected of them.
Your Puppy Isn’t Making the Connection. So how can you use feedback to complete your puppy potty training process? If your puppy has an accident in front of you, immediately interrupt with a “No” and get them outside as quickly as possible. Do not yell and the puppy, rub their nose in the accident, or punish them. You are simply interrupting and getting them outside, then praising heavily if they finish outside. If your puppy has an accident and you miss it, simply clean it up as there is no learning that will happen at this point. Go with your puppy outside every time during this process. You need to praise and reward heavily for pottying outdoors, and you need to know whether or not your puppy is “empty”.
You Need to Teach Your Puppy a Way to Alert You That They Need to Go Outside. If your puppy understands that they need to potty outside but is having accidents near the door, it is likely they just haven’t learned a clear way to signal to you that they need to go. In this case, it is helpful to add in a bell or other audible alert that your puppy can use to let you know they need to go. A Professional Trainer can help you effectively teach a bell alert.