How To Potty Train A Puppy In 4 Easy Steps

Our Top Tips to Make Training Easy

  • Take your puppy to the same spot every time
  • Always stay with your puppy while training
  • Set up a regular feeding schedule
  • Praise and reward when your pup does something right
  • Take your puppy out often

Step 1: Get Your Home Ready

Before even getting your pup, you’ll want to make sure your home is ready for them. With potty training especially it’s important to have a plan! Be sure to run through Everything You Need For Bringing Home a New Puppy for anything you should have beforehand. Prepping your puppy’s space is an easy but essential part of successful potty training.

You’ll want to make sure you have your pup’s area picked out, young puppies especially may be anxious in a new space, so it’s important to have a spot in your home that is theirs. Helping your puppy transition into their new home smoothly can make training far easier. The space should be semi-private, allowing your puppy a place to comfortably sleep and rest. while also being safe and easy for you to check on them. A part of your bedroom, living room, or just about anywhere works fine, the goal is just to have someplace that is puppy-proofed and easy for you to check on your pup!

Next you’ll want to set up that space- decide if you want to use a crate, lay out a pet bed or blanket, and it’s usually a good idea to fence off the area with a pet gate. A new home can be intimidating and big to a young puppy, and using a fence and/or crate can help the space feel more secure. We highly recommend buying puppy pads or using newspaper in this space, just in case of any accidents.

Step 2: Introduce Your Puppy to Their Space

Many puppies have experienced some kind of potty training, whether from their previous home or an animal shelter, but even trained puppies may need a couple of weeks to adjust to your space. If you’ve picked up your puppy and had a longer drive, you may want to start with showing them the bathroom first thing!

If you’re confident that your pup doesn’t need to go, then you’re all set, start off first by showing your pup ‘their’ spot, letting them sniff and examine their crate, pet bed or blanket, and maybe one or two toys. Then let your puppy wander through your home, keeping a close eye on them but letting them explore to their heart’s content. Be sure to have some puppy pads laid out, and follow them closely just in case!

Once you’ve introduced your puppy to their new home, the next thing you’ll want to do is show them where they can do their business. It’s an easy way to get your pup acclimated to their surroundings, but you’ll also be starting potty training this way! Potty training a puppy involves a lot of standing around and frequent trips outside.

Why you need to monitor your puppy’s diet

Diet is key to successful potty training and also incredibly helpful with apartment dogs and can even provide some long term health benefits. Keeping your puppy on a regular, consistent feeding schedule will make it much easier to know when they’ll need to go and how often. This caries on with age, helping you better predict how often your indoor pup will need to go out, avoiding any untimely accidents.

Setting up dedicated feeding times also can build healthier long-term routines for your pup. Many dogs will overeat if they’re allowed to ‘graze’ all day, and you should track how much food you give your dog each day rather than just filling the bowl when it’s empty.

It’s also important to use treats or praise whenever they do their business where they’re supposed to, whether that’s outside on a walk or in your yard and not your home. It’s best to designate a regular spot- either in your yard or near your home where you’ll be taking your pup most often. You should try to find a place as free of distractions as possible to make training easier. This not only helps potty training now, but will simplify those early morning or late night potty breaks your dog will need!

Step 3: Set up a Consistent Training Schedule

A new puppy may need to go as often as every 30 minutes until they reach about 16 weeks of age, but it’s best to start potty training as early as possible to teach them how to hold it! If you put off potty training too long, it could be much more frustrating for you and your pup.

The goal with potty training though is to help focus your pups behaviors into easy signals they can use to communicate with you. Porbably the easiest tool to use is a bell on your door that your pup can ring to go outside. Adding in this step is pretty easy: just ring the bell every time before taking your dog out to use the restroom.

Avoid jingling it when just going on walks however, the goal is to get your pup to just associate the bell with doing their business, not with every time someone leaves the house. Over time the bell can also be removed easily too, most dogs will learn to go to door and let you know they need to go out.

Finally, always remember to give your pup a treat the first few times they use the bell to let you know they need to go! This affirms to them that they’re doing the right thing.

How to tell when your dog needs to go

These are just some of the top behaviors, plenty of puppies may also give no warning, so it’s best to just take your dog out as often as possible, but especially: first thing in the morning, after a meal, after a nap, last thing before bed or leaving your pup alone for an extended period of time. At first you may end up taking your puppy outside 8-12 times a day, but after a couple weeks they should be much better at getting the hang of holding it!

Some important signs to watch out for when you’re just starting to potty train:

  • Pacing, circling, or pawing
  • Whining sounds
  • Anxious wandering as if looking for something

Step 4: Correct Mistakes as Soon as They Happen

When potty training a puppy, it’s important to not get frustrated! Much like a toddler, puppies don’t always know right from wrong and need your help. Avoid negative reinforcement with puppies- incentives and positive reinforcement work much better! It’s much easier to encourage good behavior than it is to stop a puppy’s natural instincts.

It’s also important to keep a close eye on your puppy as you’re training them. It’s probably too hard to train them 100% of the time, but you’ll want to have them do their business outside as often as you can. Don’t leave your puppy alone for hours if you can avoid it as a lack of consistency can only make training more confusing for a pup.

Common problems and how to fix them

  • “He’s found an indoor spot where he likes to do his business!” This means that your pup has effectively ‘marked’ a spot indoors. It’s important to have some enzymatic cleaners on hand because those break up the smells that lure your puppy somewhere (or just do a very thorough cleaning)!
  • “She likes to pee all over the house while I’m gone!” Some dogs, especially young puppies, don’t do well when they have a huge space to roam while home alone. We recommend either gating off part of your home, or crate training your dog for when you’re home alone.
  • “They keeps making a mess in their crate!” This is most common among puppies that aren’t fully trained yet, but can happen too if a dog is left alone for too long or gets sick. The best thing to do is clean it out, and be sure to let your dog outside as often as possible until they are housebroken.
  • “My small dog likes to pee in the house!” Miniature and toy breeds sometimes prefer to do their business indoors (the world is big and scary to them after all). It can help to create a designated spot in the home for them to do their business.

Potty training a puppy can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks but consistency is key! Getting a new puppy can mean long days, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. In no time at all you’ll have finished your first puppy training lesson and they’ll be ready to learn more!

Getting a new puppy can be a daunting experience: acclimating your pup to your home, figuring out vaccinations, deciding between what seems like a million kinds of dog food. All of that can take serious time, and that can all be before you even meet your new best friend!

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