Dogs are not space intensive, they are time intensive! See JACA’s Raising Your Japanese Akita Puppy Blog Series for more in-depth detail on this crucial aspect of raising a JA puppy.

And now it is time to talk about a subject that arouses varied and strong opinions from all dog lovers. It can make or break the most well-intentioned of dog owners but once it’s successfully mastered, everyone in the home, human and canine alike, can breathe a sigh of relief and feel a well deserved sense of accomplishment. We realize there are many methods of potty training a dog — too many to mention, in fact — so what we’ve done is compiled tips and product suggestions from recent new owners and experienced breeders for what we hope will make yours and your dog’s life less stressful.

Like a human infant, a puppy will not be able to keep from eliminating for long periods of time. Although dogs of any age should have access to ample amounts of water, during the potty training period, you might choose to limit fluid intake after a certain time in the evening depending on your own sleep schedule (e.g., no water after 8pm). With a pup, you could take him out to relieve himself every four hours or so and extend those times accordingly as the pup’s bladder begins to mature (a healthy adult dog can hold it for much longer periods of time). If you’re not inclined to break up your sleep for potty patrol, you can search the web for other suitable methods.

A very general rule of thumb is a pup will go when he wakes up after a long snooze, soon after he eats and also randomly during play. So basically, puppies go a lot. Keep reminding yourself the housebreaking period is only a temporary situation and the result will be a wonderful dog who doesn’t have accidents in the house. Some pups will also pee when excited to meet someone or in a new situation but will usually outgrow that behavior. On occasion, your previously potty trained dog may begin having accidents in the home. If that should happen, there is more likely than not a medical reason and you should consult your vet. Never physically reprimand a dog for having an accident in the house. The previously held belief that you should punish a dog by rubbing his nose in his mess or spank him with a newspaper is now considered cruel, outdated, ignorant and not recommended.

Your new puppy or dog is dependent on YOUR diligence to prevent accidents from happening in the house and YOUR praise when the dog successfully goes in the right place. The most important aspect to remember is that patience, cleanliness and consistency (the times you take the dog out and the place you choose for the dog to relieve himself) are key.

  • Designate a confined area indoors when the dog is not supervised until housebreaking is complete. The age of housebreaking varies by dog.
  • Physical barrier such as a baby gate, a crate and/or an ex-pen
    • Ex-pen should be at least 3’ high to prevent a great escape and subsequent mischief around the home.
    • Plastic crates are easier to clean and sanitize than wire crates. However, many wire crates come with movable dividers so that they are adjustable in size.
    • If your pup is partially housebroken before coming home, he may confuse carpet/area rugs with wee wee pads or grass. You might want to consider limiting your puppy’s access to carpeted rooms or put away area rugs until housebreaking is complete.
    • (If applicable) Plastic tarp and linoleum flooring in the area of confinement.
  • Wee-wee pads. There are disposable ones and washable ones.
    • Please monitor to ensure a teething pup or re-homed dog going through an adjustment period does not chew/eat the disposable pads!

We have had success lining disposable ones with a large Four Paws Wee-Wee Washables for Dogs. Dog waste is easily wrapped up and disposed of and the washable ones catches any spillage.

  • Some breeders have success using newspaper or shredded newspaper in a plastic box like a litter box, but that likely will prove quite messy once a JA puppy reaches 10 lbs. or for an adolescent or adult dog.
  • Enzymatic cleaner (e.g. Anti-Icky Poo or Nature’s Miracle).
    • When (not if!) your dog has an accident indoors, be sure to remove the mess, spot clean, and finish with the enzymatic cleaner. This eliminates odors more effectively and safely than bleach/household cleaners, and discourages the puppy from returning to and eliminating at the same spot.
  • Designate a potty area.
    • If you have a puppy and no access to your own yard, pick an area that does not have common access to protect against diseases from unfamiliar dogs (because not all your neighbors will be as responsible as you and be up-to-date on vaccinations and health checks).
    • Wipe your dog’s paws with disposable baby wipes before he is allowed back in to avoid spreading of dirt and disease in his living quarters.
    • Some dog training books suggest creating the habit of going potty first (the dog, not you — although you may want to get into the habit as well) before taking them on a walk. For whatever reason (speculation ranges from cleanliness to territorial marking), some JAs prefer to eliminate away from home. don’t get frustrated if your dog refuses to go potty before leaving on a walk. Making them believe that the outside world is not their toilet is almost like defying nature; it can be done but it will not be easy.
  • If you are using the umbilical cord housebreaking method instead of crate training, the Buddy System or European-style leashes are convenient to tether your pup nearby.

Suggested reading:

Shopping List:

  • Physical barrier of your choice
  • Wee wee pads
  • Enzymatic cleaner of your choice
  • Baby wipes
  • 6’ Leash
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