Living in a high-rise can present some unique challenges when it comes to potty training your puppy. My boyfriend and I live on the 40th floor of our building, and when we brought our dog Reggie home last August, I was not prepared for how above-ground-level living would affect the potty training process.
The problem is that potty training a dog requires lots of quick responses—the second you notice your furry little one popping a squat you should be scooping her up and bringing her directly outside. This immediate action loses some of its effectiveness when “directly outside” requires an elevator ride down 40 stories.
Thanks to a combination of her own smarts and our preparedness, Reggie ended up being a cinch to potty train. We got her when she was only two months old, and to date she’s had only about five accidents in the apartment (she’s 11 months old now).
The key to potty training in this scenario is planning ahead. You have to rely less on instant responses and more on routine. Read on for some tips on how to deal with this tricky (and potentially very messy) situation:
Timing is Everything
This is a rule for potty training no matter what kind of living situation you have, and it’s especially important when you live high up. Take your dog out every two hours, and after every meal. Teach her as soon as possible that going to the bathroom takes place on the grass, and on the grass only.
Potty Pads are Your Friends
The best thing we did was purchase a couple of those fake grass potty pads for the balcony. Taking Reggie all the way downstairs and then over to the dog park was a 15-minute affair—that’s way more work than anyone wants to do at 4:00am. The fake grass reinforced our potty-on-grass-only rule, and the trays on the bottom made it so we didn’t constantly have to clean them. Better yet, having them always available made it so she could start going by herself the second she figured out how.
If you don’t have a balcony—and don’t want trays full of pee sitting in your living room—normal potty pads will do. Just make sure you always keep them in the same spot.
Make Going Outside as Fun as Possible
Reggie stopped going number two on her potty pads after a month or so—that’s because she learned that it was worth holding it in so that she could go outside and play. Reinforcing the idea that potty time and playtime go together is a great way to keep accidents from happening in the house.
Our little stubborn puppy decided after a couple of weeks that the crate was a total no-go. No amount of treats could get her in there, and it was impossible to physically put her in the crate with the fight she put up. That being said, crate training is a great tool for potty training anywhere, and particularly in a high-rise (as long as you can get your dog in there, of course).
The special complexities of potty training when you live in a high rise are difficult for you, but remember that they’re difficult for your dog too. Accidents will happen, and the best thing you can do is stay consistent in how you respond. Don’t let the inconvenience of taking your dog downstairs be an excuse for poor training.
Do Your Research
The more you know, the better. Our friends at Labrador Training HQ have put together a pretty good guide to get you started.