How to Potty Train a Puppy When You Work — Crates, Potty Pads and More
It’s safe to say that very few of us can live without a job. However, that complicates things, especially if we have a dog. Learning how to potty train a puppy when you work long hours is no easy task. It takes perseverance, a whole lot of patience, and even equipment we have never thought about before!
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It is possible to potty train a puppy when we’re away for most of the day — but we need a technique. We need sound advice from dog owners who can share both positive and negative stories. We need to figure out how to recognize that a dog has to “go.” More importantly, we need to always have a back-up plan if we cannot find anyone to babysit the pup while we’re away.
Are you already overwhelmed? Don’t worry! In this guide, I’ll talk about all the ins and outs of learning how to potty train a puppy when you work long hours, part-time and from home. In addition, I’ll help you figure out if you’ll need to buy a crate or use potty pads. After all, there are pros and cons for everything in life, even potty training equipment.
How much can a dog hold it in?
Before we delve further into the matter, we have to figure out how often puppies need to “go” every day.
Now, if you look this up online, you’ll see that most experts recommend using a very simple equation in order to figure out how much time you have between potty breaks.
Puppy’s age in months + 1 hour = pee-free time.
In most cases, this equation works. But just like with humans, you cannot really predict these things. The system is flawed purely because each puppy is different. Even my dog couldn’t hold it in for as long as the equation said. I had to take it outside every hour or so.
Therefore, just to be on the safe side, let’s presume that the puppy cannot hold it in for longer than an hour. That is obviously a huge problem if you work all day long. The puppy won’t be able to go out to pee or poop; it will do it inside, possibly behind the couch or underneath the bed.
Thus, we have to make it a point to take the puppy out every day, no matter where we work or for how long. But that begs the question…
How often should you take the puppy outside so that it can pee and/or poop?
When talking about puppies, all bets are off. They are not aware of their needs, as they are still growing. The more they grow, the longer they can hold it in. But, until then, we have to help them out. For that reason alone, most of us who have to leave for work at some point usually resort to placing newspapers everywhere, hoping it will prevent damage.
But there is a better way! You just have to organize your time and ask for help when you need it.
Working 40 hours a week can easily drain us out. In fact, when we work full-time, we barely have enough hours in the day to take care of our own needs, let alone a puppy’s.
Thus, even before getting a dog, you have to consider if you are prepared for this kind of commitment. Older dogs are much easier to take care of when we are working full-time because they don’t usually have to be potty trained. More importantly, they don’t really mind being alone.
Puppies, however, have just been separated from their mothers, so they are scared. They are in a totally new place where all the furniture is big, and no one else is hairy but them! So, we have to help them adjust to the new environment as soon as possible. Otherwise, potty training won’t help — they’ll become too anxious, which leads to inappropriate elimination.
So what can you do if you work full-time? It’s rather simple — you have to create a routine that both you and the puppy will benefit from.
When you get up in the morning, check on the puppy right away. Take it outside as soon as possible. Wait for the puppy to relieve itself, then take it back inside. THEN, take it out again. Sometimes, puppies think they’re done, but actually, they are not. Thus, they might pee or poop again as soon as we get them inside. It’s better to prevent that by staying a while longer or by letting them out again.
While you’re at work
Now, figuring out how to potty train a puppy when you work doesn’t end with taking it outside in the morning. Oh, no. You have to ask for help, as the puppy cannot hold it in for very long. In fact, it definitely cannot wait until you come back. Thus, if you decide to leave it in a crate, you have two options. You can either hire a dog sitter or ask a friend or a family member to check on the puppy during the day.
That can be a problem if you live alone and your friends and family are far away. If that’s the case, I recommend getting a dog sitter. However, you have to check if you can trust that person with your furry child. Moreover, the sitter has to know how to continue your potty training when you’re away.
Unless the dog is a real genius, it won’t learn where to go potty in just a couple of days. Some dogs require months of training, not to mention various incentives. So, until the puppy is old enough AND potty trained, you’ll need some help. There’s no way you can do it alone.
How to potty train a puppy when you work from home
Working from home seems to be the dream for some people. In essence, you don’t need a clear schedule as you are the master of your own time. The work hours are usually flexible enough for you to do whatever you want during the breaks.
However, learning how to potty train a puppy when you work from home can be difficult too. For instance, you might get caught up in work so much that you completely forget there’s someone in the house who cannot “go” alone. In addition, you might not be able to get the puppy out on time, every time. So what is the best strategy here?
Just like some people use apps to remind them to drink water during the day, you ought to set up a few alarms. Given that we’ve already established that a puppy can hold it in for about an hour or so, we recommend that you set the alarm to ring every hour or an hour and a half (just in case). That way, you’ll certainly be able to take the puppy outside in time, not to mention get a well-deserved break.
On another note, this sort of puppy training is also incredibly beneficial if you’re in a hurry. By creating a good routine for the pup and always taking it out to pee or poop at the same spot, you’ll help it master the pattern and learn faster. Top that off with a few treats every time it listens to your command, and you’ve got yourself a nice obedient pooch!
How to potty train a puppy when you work part-time
Finally, there are dog owners who get the best of both worlds. They can go out during the day, earn a living AND train their puppy if they work part-time.
Still, working part-time doesn’t mean we can leave the puppy in a crate until we get back. Even that amount of time could be too much for it to handle, so it could destroy its wonderful habitat and relieve itself. If the dog is way too young to be left in the crate for that amount of time, hiring a dog sitter is, once again, a good idea. And speaking of…
Hiring a dog sitter
I have said that a dog sitter should be able to continue the potty training routine you’ve created for the puppy. However, here I would like to remind you that not everyone can or should be a dog sitter.
Indeed, for some, it would be a lot easier to ask a family member to babysit the pup while they’re gone. Still, you have to understand that not everyone will care enough to actually keep an eye on the puppy.
Yet, that’s necessary if you’re learning how to potty train a puppy when you work. You have to put in the effort, day after day until the pooch is independent enough not to soil your floor.
So what kind of a dog sitter should we look for?
We ought to hire someone who:
- Has had dogs before or is a dog owner right now. This is usually the best option overall, as such people have gone through puppy training before and probably know how to handle a puppy’s tiny bladder.
- Is a parent. As many of you already know, we tend to treat dogs as children. And in essence, they are sort of like toddlers. They love to roam around the house, touch everything, make a mess sometimes and sleep on the couch. Thus, someone who has experienced parenthood will know how to meet all the needs a puppy might have, and then some.
- Absolutely loves dogs. A dog hater is a huge no-no, of course, so this one is self-explanatory.
- Has dabbled in dog training. Ideally, the dog sitter will be someone who does that for a living. However, even someone who has had to train their own dog will do. All it matters is that they are patient enough with a furball that’s just learning where to pee and poop and that they know how to entertain the dog so that it doesn’t get lonely.
How to potty train a puppy when you work — crates and potty pads
Pros and cons of dog crates
- The puppy will think the crate is its home. Thus, it will try its best not to soil it until we get back home.
- A crate resembles a den, which is an awesome benefit most dogs will appreciate. It’s a place they can call their own, and a type of shelter where they can hide when they get bored with us (or other pets).
- It can serve as a bathroom. If we get a small crate and cover it with absorbent pads, the dog will instinctively know that it should relieve itself there, as it smells like #1 and #2.
- If we leave the puppy in the crate for too long, it will spoil it. This can easily cause distress and make the dog too anxious to continue its potty training.
- No one likes to be confined to a small space, especially not a dog. Thus, if the crate is just not big enough, it will try to escape or wallow in self-pity (and possibly its urine or poop too).
- It can collapse if we don’t assemble it well. In addition, if the dog is eager to get out, but the crate is not stable enough, it might fall onto it while we’re at work.
Crates can be quite dangerous. However, it’s unlikely a crate will collapse, especially if we have someone who can check on the puppy while we’re away. Plus, if we leave the pup in the crate for just an hour or so, it will not find it so distressing.
Pros and cons of potty pads
- Potty pads are the ultimate emergency blanket when it comes to housebreaking a dog. We can easily get the puppy to relieve itself in any part of the house, as long as it does it on the potty pad.
- These can soak up urine much better than newspapers, so it’s unlikely the puppy will damage our floors.
- Some potty pads come with odor eliminators and blockers.
- Once used to it, the puppy will have a hard time learning to pee or poop outside. As such, we should use potty pads ONLY when we have no other choice.
- The puppy can easily mix up the potty pad with some other similarly shaped item in our home, like a carpet.
- Having a potty pad could breed laziness, as it’s far easier to take the dog to it than to take it out for a walk.
Confused? I bet you are. These pros and cons lists are here just so that you can understand that you have to put in the effort if you really want to learn how to potty train a puppy when you work. Therefore, here’s a nifty guide that will certainly shed some light on how to make the whole process a lot easier.
Techniques and advice
Create a routine as soon as the puppy arrives
Consistency is key when it comes potty training a puppy, so you have to act fast. Remind yourself often that you are now in charge of another living being. Wake up early in the morning and immediately take the puppy outside so that it can go potty. In essence, create a routine and stick to it.
Use verbal cues
Just like with any other form of dog training, you ought to use verbal cues whenever you’re taking the dog outside to pee or poop. Use anything you want; for example, “Go potty” or “Hurry up.” The puppy will pick up on those cues (sooner or later) and will know that it’s time to do something.
Feed it at the same time every day
Whether the puppy eats twice or three times a day, it’s important to try to maintain a routine. That way, you will also learn when the puppy needs to relieve itself, which will make the whole process a lot less troublesome than it appears to be. However, never feed the puppy before work. That could easily trigger the call of nature as soon as you leave. In general, puppies will have to go potty about an hour after they’ve eaten, so keep that in mind.
Be patient and don’t yell
Without the crate or the potty pads, you’ll have to be patient and persistent. It might seem as if the dog will never learn where to go potty. But in reality, you just have to repeat the same steps every day and always give the dog a treat once it does something right. Additionally, you should never yell at it if it has an “accident” even though you’ve been training it. It happens to the best of us!
If the dog has an accident, remember to clean that spot thoroughly. Dogs are attracted to the smell of urine and feces, so if they sense it, they will try to soil the same area again. In order to prevent that, I recommend that you use an enzymatic cleaner. That should effectively remove the odor and stop the puppy from relieving itself at that spot.
If you catch the puppy pooping or peeing in the house, calmly clap your hands or say “No” or “Oh-oh.” That should be enough to make it stop. Then, just take the puppy outside so that it can finish what it started. In any case, never yell or show your anger. That would only teach the puppy not to do that again in front of you. It won’t stop it from hiding behind a couch and doing the #1 or #2 there.
If you decide to use a crate or a potty pad
- Make sure the crate is big enough for the puppy and never leave the dog in it for longer than a few hours.
- Use a bigger potty pad at first. Then, downsize little by little until the dog is using the ground as its bathroom.
- Whenever you can, avoid using both these items and take the puppy out for a walk (or a light stroll in the backyard). It’s always better if it relieves itself outside, as you cannot keep a potty pad in your home forever. Likewise, you cannot rely on a crate to train your puppy — dogs need their space, and in any case, you didn’t get a dog just so you could keep it in jail, right?
Final thoughts on how to potty train a puppy when you work
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new from this guide and are now aware that figuring out how to potty train a puppy when you work at least 8 hours a day is not that easy. Know that it will be difficult at first, but every puppy can be housetrained — you just have to be patient! However, if you need extra help, remember that there are additional techniques that can help you eliminate bad behavior. Every problem has a solution — even when the problem is a puddle of urine you’ve just stepped into!