Our puppies are trained to potty on washable pee pads. We DO NOT take the puppies outside for potty or play at any time while they are with us. Keeping puppies safe and healthy is our #1 goal. We take every precaution that we can to ensure that puppies are not exposed to disease, illness, injury, and parasites.
If you choose to train your puppy to go outdoors to potty, it is best to wait until they have completed their puppy vaccinations before you do so. Even if there are no other dogs that have access to the outdoor potty area, if there is a chance that wild animals travel through that area, then they could be at risk for contracting certain illness such as leptospirosis.
Any time that you take your puppy/young dog outside, please be sure that they are wearing a harness with the leash. Birds of prey have been known to swoop down and carry off puppies...such a terrible thing to even think about, but completely preventable. Although your puppy will be microchipped before they leave us, if you have your dog outside, it would still be a good idea to have your dog wear a collar with an i.d. tag but please never use a leash with the collar. Shih tzus have very delicate necks and using a leash with a collar could cause damage to the windpipe.
The three most important things to consider when potty training or house breaking a puppy are consistency, communication, and timing. Creating a schedule and a plan will be helpful. Everyone in the home needs to use the same commands and techniques. I would not recommend using the cue word “outside” or “bathroom”. I would use less commonly used words or phrase to reduce confusion. “Potty”,“potty time”, or "business" are ones that I have heard that work well.
Even if you plan to take the puppy outside to potty, I would be sure and put potty pads beside the door(s) that you will be taking the puppy out to go potty; at least until you feel like the puppy is completely housebroken. I always recommend greeting the puppy while the puppy is on a pee pad and petting them before picking them up because the excitement can cause them to pee so I always recommend hesitating a moment before picking them up.
If you take your puppy outside to potty, I would initially stay away from grass and gravel. It’s a distraction and they want to eat the grass and rocks.
Timing is VERY important. You can anticipate that they are going to need to at least need to pee once during the night for the first month or two. Never withhold food or water from the puppy, especially before bedtime. I have had people tell me that they “exercise” their puppy (play fetch, etc) immediately before bedtime so that the puppy will be worn out and allow the owner to get plenty of sleep. It backfires because the play time makes the puppy thirsty so it drinks a lot in a short amount of time, then it has to pee more often during the night.
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