by Shelby Subry
Are you a dog parent who lives in an apartment or has limited space?
If you are, I'm right there with you.
I live in an apartment and work full time at the hospital. I’ve been training my puppy on my own so I have experienced the ups and downs of puppy training. I was able to take about 1.5 weeks off when I first got him, it was overwhelming but necessary when you’re solo.
So I thought I’d provide some helpful tips from my own experience.
Patience, repetition, and positive reinforcement are key
Having a puppy takes time to work together to develop those habits we all love.
Potty training is one thing I focused on first. I am so grateful for Porch Potty. It is so convenient to use and comes in a variety of sizes. I bought the small size with the turf grass.
Pro Tip: Have a Porch Potty ready to go when you know their bladder will be full.
I purchased my porch potty prior to my puppy’s arrival home. After a 3 hour car ride I knew he would need to pee. If I did it all over again i probably would have sized up but my pup is around 30 lbs now and still fits fairly well on it.
I immediately placed him on the porch potty and he was able to pee on it.
If the puppy establishes his scent there then an increased chance they will pee on it again.
Your puppy might not be successful every time you place them on it but give them a few minutes to try it out. Your puppy will have accidents.
Remember, he or she isn’t “being bad”, “angry that you left” or anything like that. Whether your pup is an actual pup or a bit older, a new environment takes getting used to and figuring out.
My puppy sometimes wanted to run around or play a little before he figured out he needed to go
Immediately upon waking, take them out to the porch potty and place them on it if you can.
My goal was to take my puppy out every few hours when I first got him. I would say my marker word “YES” every time he went potty. I would also differentiate between pee “tap your kidney” and poop “let’s go potty/go poop”.
Timing is everything.
After a play session with those adorable zoomies, they will often stop moving, sniff around and maybe start to squat. Snatch them up and go to the porch potty.
Take them to the Porch Potty again 10-30 minutes after meals go to the porch potty and before bed.
Pro tip: I stop providing water 1-3 hours before bed and food 2-4 hours before bed.
I was lucky he rarely woke me up during the night. He could hold his bladder but that might be secondary to stopping any intake. I also put his crate next to my bed so he felt secure.
Remember to rinse the Porch Potty and empty it frequently.
It will start to smell otherwise and attract insects otherwise. Also for those inside accidents clean up ASAP because they will start to remember that’s okay. I didn’t scold him, I just cleaned it up and tried better next time.
I find having a porch potty especially important to have available while your puppy is unvaccinated because they can pick up a variety of diseases out and about on walks.
My pup has transitioned to using walks around our apartment for most of his potty breaks but when I’m working, my dog sitter plays with him in my apartment and lets him out to use the Porch Potty. It also comes in handy when the weather isn’t great.
When the puppy is inside the apartment, make sure you keep an eye on them at all times.
I suggest having a playpen and baby gate. I put a baby gate into my kitchen and a playpen in my living room with a blanket that is absorbent of urine.
I also suggest crate training. That has been so helpful while I work and if you do it right they will not have a potty accident in it.
Remember to use positive reinforcement.
I say “yes” , provide a treat, small in size, and pet him to let him know he did a good deed. There are many reasons for this, however, one reason is you want to make sure your dog associates the Porch Potty with good things, so he or she will feel relaxed, it’s very difficult for dogs to potty when they are stressed.
Things you can do while working
Kennel up your puppy, have a dog person come play, feed, and take your pup out.
I work 10-12 hour shifts so I had someone come in 2x per day so he was able to get his needs taken care of. I do not feel comfortable leaving him unattended alone in my apartment.
Pro tip: I have a doggie camera.
This helps in the event that you have a new person dogsitting that you don’t know well yet, you can also see if your dog is barking. Some doggie camera models actually let you talk to them and calm them down.
Regardless if you're working from home or out of home make sure to work on separating your dog from you.
Separation anxiety is a real problem. I would work on this for minutes to hours. It took a while but it's so important you have to live your life too.
I use mental stimulation or safe options to keep him busy such as safety chew, lamb horns, puzzle feeders. I work on skills like sit, stay, place, drop it, leave it, etc. I also play with him with a variety of toys. You can still have lots of fun and exercise while living in a small apartment.
Walk your dog outside
This is good for you and for pups.
I walk him immediately upon waking, before I leave for work as I get up early, when I come home as well as just before bed. I enjoy decompression and so does he.
Always carry several poop bags with you and a treat pouch helps a lot. Be a considerate neighbor!
Dogs like routine
I know from having an older dog previously he thrived on routine. Try to keep them to a schedule on your days on/off.
When you’re in the thick of it, it feels never ending. However, as the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”
Now that my pup is 8 months old he no longer needs the exercise pen and will bark at me when he needs to go potty and we try to go out on scheduled times. He still gets the adorable zoomies and has lots to learn still but I’m here to tell you it gets better over time.
I hope these tips help and that you and your pup are living your best lives!