How to Potty Train Your Puppy

Consistency is the golden rule

Puppy photo

Starting the potty process

Potty training a dog takes patience, kindness and a little planning. Before you begin, have these helpful tools on hand:

  • A crate is an acceptable way to keep your non-housebroken dog confined for short periods of time when you must leave him or her home alone. Dogs instinctively won’t do their business in their own space.
  • Training pads are absorbent, leak-proof and disposable, perfect to put on the floor in an inside spot where you’d like your puppy to go.
  • Pet-specific stain and odor removers contain enzymes that help remove, not just mask, odors from pet messes.

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Create a command and a reward

Establish a command that your pup can understand. Say, “Go potty” while your dog is doing their business. This word association will help your pet learn to go whenever you say those magic words. Whenever your dog is done, say “Good potty!” and give lots of praise. Resist the temptation to reward this behavior with a treat, though.

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recommended puppy training videos

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How to Crate Train

Timing is everything

Set up a consistent schedule for potty breaks. First, keep your dog’s feeding times consistent and remember to remove leftover food between meals. This will help your dog develop a natural, predictable rhythm for elimination.
Recommended potty break times:

  • First thing in the morning
  • After naps
  • 10 to 20 minutes after each meal
  • Before going to sleep at night
  • At least once at night (until your puppy is five months old)
  • When you notice your puppy sniffing a spot while turning circles around it — that means they have to go NOW.

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Teach your dog where to go

Dogs are creatures of habit; so the sooner they understand where business should be done, the sooner they’ll stop going elsewhere. To help speed up the process:

  • Take your dog to the same spot for every potty break.
  • Keep your home and yard environment the same during potty training. Redecorating or renovations might confuse your dog.

Potty problems

Some dogs learn faster than others, but if your puppy seems to be having an unusual number of accidents, there could be a physical or emotional reason. Your dog may be anxious, depressed, frightened, excited, or could have a urinary tract infection. A male dog may be marking his territory. Consult a veterinarian who can help identify and treat these issues.