Puppy Potty Training Tips

Puppy Potty Training Tips

So you got a new puppy.  Congratulations!

Potty training is the one of the first things you will teach your new puppy.   One of the top reasons why dogs are given up is because they are not housebroken properly.  So this is on thing that you definitely want to dedicate time and potty train your dog the right way from the beginning!

It is important to remember that not all dogs are the same.  Some dogs can be potty trained in just a few weeks, other dogs take longer taking months to potty train.   The length of time it takes a dog to be potty trained depends on many factors such as age, breed, how consistent you are in your training, whether or not they have a medical condition, etc.


Remember that puppies are like babies.  Their organs are not fully formed.   This is true for any puppy who is 12 weeks, 16 weeks, even 6 months or older depending on the breed and size of the dog.  You cannot expect your puppy to hold their urine all day while you are at work or all through the night.  This is just not physically possible for young puppies.  Potty training is a process that needs to be taught and it is taught over time.  Be positive and patient during the entire process!


If you walk into a room and discover your puppy had an accident, DO NOT punish your puppy.  Remember puppies have very short memories.   You don’t know if your puppy had the accident 5 minutes ago, or several hours ago.  If you punish your puppy after the fact by pointing to the accident and yelling at him or rubbing his nose in it, your puppy will #1, think you are crazy, and #2 will learn that you do not like to find his accidents and therefore  he will learn to eliminate behind the chair or couch so you can’t find it.  This is what we call a “sneaky eliminator” and is very hard to break this behavior once it is learned.


Puppies learn best if they repeat a behavior over and over again.  This is especially true when potty training your puppy.  When potty training you should practice “Going Potty”:

  • If puppy is 8 weeks or younger – Every 30 minutes*
  • If puppy is 8-12 weeks old –  Every hour (Set an egg timer)*
  • 10-20 minutes after puppy eats or drinks
  • 10 – 20 minutes into play

* When your puppy is 85-90% successful with potty training, then increase the time by 15 – 30 minutes.


Decide where your dog is allowed to eliminate (outside, potty pad, doggie litter) and take him to that spot EVERY TIME.   Each time you take him to that spot, say the same phrase like “Go Potty”


Because a  puppy’s organs are not fully mature, it is very important that you create a routine schedule and consistently adhere to that schedule.  Feed your puppy at the same times every day to help his body get on an elimination routine.  Puppies generally have to eliminate 10-20 minutes after eating… If you allow your dog to eat freely throughout the day, it is going to be very difficult to know when he will need to eliminate.


When you puppy eliminates in the appropriate place, quietly wait for him to finish, and then praise and reward him with  a treat right there on the spot!  If going outside, don’t wait to give him a treat in the house.  He will think he is getting the treat for coming in the house, not for going potty several activities ago!


You must watch your puppy at all times!   If you are not watching him, then you will not be able to catch him just before or in the act of eliminating which is the best time to catch him and take him to where he is allowed to eliminate!  By watching your puppy you will learn the signals that your puppy display when he needs to go to the bathroom.  These signals could include:

  • Sniffing
  • Circling
  • Arching their tail
  • Squatting
  • Distracted from playing

If you see your puppy display any of these signals, stop what you are doing and immediately take your dog to the spot where he is allowed to eliminate (outside,  puppy pad, doggie litter box)


This goes hand in hand with supervising your dog.  If you allow your puppy to freely roam around the house, the chances that you know where your puppy is every single minute is slim.  And inevitably, when your puppy is out of you sight is when he will have an accident in the house and you will not find it until after the fact!  Decide what area the puppy can have access to and use baby gates to block their access to all other areas of the house.  As the puppy proves to you that he is consistently potty trained, then you can give him more access and freedom.  But be careful that you do not give this freedom too soon!


Whenever you must leave your puppy alone or unattended the puppy should be  confined to a crate.  Crates are great potty training tools.  Ensure the crate is the correct size.  The puppy should be able to sit, stand, and lie down comfortably in the crate.  Make sure the crate is not too big!  If you have a crate that is sized to accommodate the puppy when he is full grown, make sure that you install the divider to make the crate smaller to accommodate his current size.   To emphasize that the crate is similar to their den, you should also feed your puppy in his crate and ensure the puppy sleeps in the crate.  This will make the crate much less attractive to eliminate in.  In addition to potty training, there are so many benefits to crate training your dog.


  • “But he was doing so well” — You gave the puppy too much freedom to soon.
  • Expecting children to keep a “good” eye on the puppy.  Lets be realistic, the dog is the adult’s responsibility, not the child’s!  Children can help, but it is up to the adult to make sure the dog is receiving supervision and an ample chance to succeed.
  • Change in diet – Changing puppy foods, giving people food/scraps, or changing the time when puppy eats.   Everything to do with eating should be strictly consistent.   Provide puppy high quality  puppy food with limited amounts of corn, wheat, or soy and feed the puppy at the same times every day!
  • Medical reasons – If the dog has a bladder infection or other medical issue, then no amount of training is going to potty train the dog until the medical issue is resolved.  If you have followed all of the above tips for several weeks and you are not seeing significant improvements, then consult your vet

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