How & When to Potty Train Lab Pups

Black Lab puppy.
Black Lab puppy.

Getting a new puppy is both exciting and difficult. If you are planning to get a Lab puppy, keep in mind that Labradors are high energy and need lots of activity. If your Lab is going to be an inside dog, then potty training is one of the most important first steps.

Be aware of age. Puppies can start being potty trained at around 8 weeks. If you bought your dog from a breeder or pet store, make sure the puppy is at least 8 weeks; it should be fully weaned by then. If you are the owner of the mother of the puppy and the puppy is still weaning, keep the puppy confined to an area such as the kitchen or laundry room and make an area with newspapers where he can relieve itself. His mother will naturally teach him to eliminate away from his sleeping area. Once he matures, you can begin house potty training and move the puppy to a crate.

Use a crate. Crate training is an effective tool for potty training a Lab. Find a crate that will be big enough for your Lab puppy as she grows, but not too big that she will feel alone. Too much space will also hinder potty training. A Lab, like most dogs, will not go potty where it sleeps, but if there is too much space in the crate, there will be room for her to relieve herself and still move away from it.

Be aware of time. You cannot expect your Lab puppy to his potty for a long time. The rule of thumb is one hour for each month old. So, a puppy of 8 weeks should be able to hold his bladder for about two hours, a 12-week-old Lab for three hours, and so on. If you hear your puppy whimpering in his crate, it's probably time to take him out. You may even consider setting an alarm clock to make sure he gets the proper attention.

Take her to the same spot. When you take your Lab puppy outside, try to take her to the same areas so she gets used to a certain spot. After awhile, she will know what she needs to do.

Reward your Lab puppy. When your Lab goes in his spot, give him praise. Labs love to please. A treat or some play time is also helpful.

Try to catch her in the act. If your Lab, while out of her crate, relieves herself in the house, look at her sternly, say "No" and immediately take her outside. This is more difficult if you do not catch her right away, but later find an area where she has relieved herself. In this case, carry her over to the area, put her nose near the area, but not in it, and tell her "No." Again, take her outside. Then clean the area with a non-toxic cleaner that will eliminate the odor.

Be patient. Patience and love are the most important factors in training a Lab puppy. All puppies are different, and some learn quicker than others. On average, it takes about two months to fully house train a puppy. Also keep in mind that larger dogs such as Labs tend to take a little more time to learn than smaller dogs. Other than the time factor, most dogs---large or small---learn in the same manner.

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