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How To Potty Train a Golden Retriever

Updated July 18, 2022
How To Potty Train a Golden Retriever

Every puppy owner must know how to potty train a golden retriever to prevent accidents.

Constantly cleaning up pee from the carpet or wooden floors is frustrating, and at times, you may think your puppy will never learn.

The good news is that every dog owner has gone through that, and every puppy learns that it should go outside eventually.

However, you should be dedicated, patient, and consistent to effectively potty train a golden retriever puppy. Like children, puppies aren’t fully aware of their actions and what’s right or wrong.

Fortunately, golden retrievers are among the best trainable dog breeds, so success is guaranteed if you pick the correct potty training method and handle accidents wisely.

When To Start Potty Training

The success of potty training largely depends on the puppy’s age. Don’t expect a one-month-old puppy to pee outside. Veterinarians and breeders recommend waiting until the puppy is at least 12 weeks old, which equals three months.

By that age, the puppy’s bladder is almost developed, and its attention span is sufficient to memorize basic commands and rules.

Signs a Puppy Needs To Go Potty

As a rule of thumb, you should bring your puppy outside to go potty every time after it drinks, eats, or naps. Getting the puppy outside should also be your first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.

However, puppies don’t always go potty on a timer, so you should know the signs a puppy needs to pee.

Bring your puppy outside if you notice it circling, sniffing the ground more than usual, whining, pawing, otherwise asking for attention, or sitting at the front door.

Sitting at the front door or pawing the owner are signs of potty training success, indicating that the puppy already understood it should go outside.

Take It Outside Often

The trick to preventing accidents in the house is taking your puppy outside as often as possible. Some breeders recommend taking a golden retriever puppy outside every 20 minutes, while others every hour.

There’s no right or wrong timing, but the point is to take the puppy outside before an accident occurs. A month-old puppy can hold its bladder for about an hour, a two-month puppy for two hours, and a three-month-old puppy for three hours.

However, each dog is unique, and it’s best to take your puppy outside a bit more often than advised to eliminate any chance of accidents. Every accident in the house takes your training a step back.

Suppose you’re taking your puppy outside every 30 minutes, but it doesn’t go. Then, you can increase the time intervals to 40 minutes. You will figure out the right time interval eventually.

Set a timer for when you have to take your puppy out. Remember that you aren’t taking it out to play. Puppies have short attention spans, so any distraction can interfere with your training.

If you take a puppy outside to go potty and start playing, it will forget why you brought it out initially. If a puppy hasn’t gone potty in ten minutes, take it inside.

Pick One Spot

Dogs prefer to go potty where someone has already done that. For this reason, puppies often pee on the same spot. If you don’t clean up accidents properly, a puppy will sense the smell and pee in the same place again.

This habit can be annoying if your puppy has chosen the carpet or corner behind the sofa as its favorite spot, but you can use it to your advantage. Take your puppy out to the same spot every time.

This way, your puppy will associate a specific spot with going potty and will automatically go there every time you bring it outside.

To avoid confusing your puppy with multiple potty spots, learn how to clean up puppy accidents correctly. Soap and water aren’t sufficient to get rid of the smell.

Even if you don’t sense it, your puppy does since its sense of smell is much better developed. First, blot the spot with paper towels. Don’t rub it because the odor will only become more persistent if you do.

Next, apply an enzymatic cleaner to the pee spot and let it soak for a while, following the instructions on the label.

If you can’t find any enzymatic cleaner in local pet stores, use vinegar diluted with water. Then, blot the spot again, and the smell should be gone.

Reward It

The best way to train a golden retriever is to reward it. Golden retrievers are eager to please the owner and love food, so you can either pet your puppy and praise it verbally or give it age-appropriate treats.

This way, your puppy will start associating rewards with going potty outside and be more willing to do it again instead of peeing in the house. Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to potty train a puppy.

An important point to remember is to reward the puppy right after it has gone potty. Don’t wait until ten minutes pass to bring it back into the house to reward it because puppies have a short attention span.

Another point to keep in mind is that the reaction should be consistent. Pick one reward, be it a treat, petting, or favorite toy, and stick with it instead of changing your response every time.

Handle Accidents Correctly

One of the most common mistakes in potty training a puppy is punishing the puppy for accidents. Remember that your puppy doesn’t go potty inside the house out of spite but because it’s small and doesn’t yet understand that it’s not the right spot.

So, instead of shoving your puppy’s nose into the pee spot or swatting it, catch it in the act and say loudly, “Not in here!” or simply “No!”. Don’t shout but be strict.

Then, grab your puppy and bring it outside to finish there. Reward it as usual for going outside. Of course, you won’t be able to catch your puppy in the act every time.

If you were too late and the accident has already happened, clean it up and don’t say anything to your puppy. Since puppies have a short attention span, your golden won’t be able to draw connections between its action and your reaction anyway.

Keep It Constrained

Golden retriever puppies need to be constantly monitored while undergoing potty training. Even if you’re working from home, this doesn’t sound realistic. At some point, you will need to take a shower or answer an urgent call and leave the puppy alone.

Suppose you’re cooking dinner and left the puppy alone for some 30 minutes. The puppy can go potty inside the house.

There’s no guarantee you will be able to identify the spot if it has already dried or the puppy peed behind furniture. For this reason, constant supervision is crucial.

Whenever you can’t watch your puppy, put it in a crate. Firstly, puppies don’t like to pee where they sleep, so your puppy will try to hold it until you bring it outside.

Secondly, even if its bladder doesn’t keep it, you can quickly identify the pee spot and clean it up. Ensure that the crate is comfortable for your puppy, and don’t leave it in a crate if it has diagnosed anxiety.

How Long Does Potty Training a Puppy Take?

Each dog is an individual, and there’s no universal answer to how long it takes to potty train a golden retriever puppy. Thanks to golden retrievers’ trainability and intelligence, some owners manage potty training their puppies in under two weeks.

In contrast, some people spend several months potty training their puppy. The most significant factor affecting the training success is the owner’s effort and action consistency.

The owner should take the puppy out often to draw connections in the puppy’s brain. If they only take the puppy out occasionally, the puppy may struggle to understand the purpose of the training.

Other factors affecting how quickly a golden retriever puppy learns to use the potty are its personality and age. A golden retriever puppy’s bladder only fully develops by the age of 16 weeks.

Until a puppy is 16 weeks old, it may have accidents even if it’s properly trained.

Furthermore, a young puppy’s attention span isn’t yet as long, which complicates the training. In other words, be dedicated and patient, and your puppy will learn eventually.

Mistakes in Potty Training a Puppy

Potty training can be equally challenging for the puppy and the owner, and every mistake takes you a step back. Therefore, you should know the things to avoid when potty training a puppy. Don’t start training your puppy too early.

Early training won’t cause harm, but it will be a waste of time. Don’t neglect the signs your puppy needs to go potty. Firstly, it can lead to accidents. Secondly, your puppy is learning to communicate and should see you understand its signs.

Don’t punish your puppy for accidents because it may start fearing you and refrain from obeying your commands. Lastly, don’t push your puppy’s bladder limits.

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