Puppy Potty Training

tips before you begin

  • instinctively, the only place your puppy won’t soil is where he sleeps - the rest of the world is open for potty.
  • your puppy can only control his bladder about one hour for each month of age and smaller breeds may need to go more often
  • signs that your puppy needs to eliminate include sniffing the ground, turning in circles, pacing, squatting, going to a spot where he previously eliminated, restlessness and whining.
  • when you are unable to supervise your puppy and at night, he should either be in his crate or a small puppy-proofed area
  • while training, you should have an outdoor ‘potty spot’ that you always take your puppy to. It should be free from distractions like toys, people and other animals.
  • accidents will happen
  • you’ll need to thoroughly clean accidents with an enzymatic cleaner made specifically to get rid of odors. Otherwise, you puppy will be attracted to them when he needs to potty. Your pet supply store should have this type of cleaner.
  • never punish a dog for an accident. It will confuse him and he may become afraid of you. Puppy training takes plenty of patience and time but it's worth it.

set your puppy up to succeed by minimizing accidents

be ready

  • when your puppy needs to go, he will need to go NOW. Have everything you need readily available (leash, shoes, flashlight, poop bags and treats which are kibble size or smaller)

schedule meals

  • keep your puppy on a regular feeding schedule
  • pick-up any uneaten food after 15-20 minute
  • don’t feed in-between meals

schedule potty breaks

  • at least `every hour * his age in months’ - smaller breeds may need to go more often
  • when he wakes up
  • after eating or drinking
  • after he plays
  • during high activity
  • when you take him out of his crate or puppy-proof area
  • before he goes to sleep at night

closely supervise your puppy when he’s not in a crate or his puppy-proofed area

  • when your puppy displays the signs that he needs to eliminate, immediately put his leash on and take him outside
  • if accidents are occurring because you don’t notice your puppy’s elimination signals, tether him to yourself or nearby furniture.
  • if you catch your dog in the act of eliminating in the house, clap your hands to distract him, but do not scare him (or he might hide from you next time). Take him outside. Don't punish him or draw any attention to the soiled area. He's still learning.
  • if you find an earlier 'accident', clean it thoroughly, but don't punish your puppy or draw any attention to the soiled area. It takes time for him to make the association.

if you are away for longer periods of time than your dog can ‘hold’ it

  • get someone to take your dog out at the proper time(s)
  • keep your puppy confined to an area with floors which can be easily cleaned. The area should be large enough so the puppy has a sleep and play area as well as a place to eliminate.

when you take your puppy outside to eliminate:

  • take him to his ‘potty’ spot
  • walk in circles or back and forth
  • interact as little as possible while waiting for him to eliminate so you don’t distract him
  • softly praise him when he starts to eliminate
  • immediately and enthusiastically praise him and give him treats when he finishes eliminating so he makes the right association
  • if your puppy doesn’t eliminate after 10 minutes, take him back inside and watch him closely
  • only let your puppy play after he eliminates

at nighttime

  • take him outside to potty before you put him in his crate or puppy-proof area
  • make sure he has exercised enough before you crate him
  • keep the crate close enough to you so that you can hear him if he needs to go potty