Puppy training: How to Potty Train a Puppy

Congratulations, you’ve made the leap and adopted your first puppy! As you may well know you are in for quite a wild ride as you get acquainted with your new addition over the coming months.

Get ready for an abundance of fun and excitement, as well as a few mistakes along the way. The more prepared and educated you are on how to raise and train your puppy, the fewer headaches you’ll experience. That’s where we come in and offer time-tested advice on how to train your puppy to go to the bathroom outdoors. We’ll give you a rundown on how to potty train a puppy as quickly as possible so you can get back to the cute and playful stuff.

How to Potty Train a Puppy

When to Start Potty Training Your Puppy

You may be asking yourself: “Well how long is this going to take?” The answer lies in your consistency with your new puppy. Nature has hardwired canines to avoid using their den as a bathroom, so you’ve got that going for you. Your home is now their den and they’ll want to relieve themselves outside, you just have to show them how and give them the opportunity to do so regularly.

To get right to the point, it usually takes 4-6 months to fully potty train a puppy. Some will learn more quickly, while others may take up to a year. This doesn’t mean that they will be using your home as a toilet every time they need to eliminate, just that they still may have a few accidents every once in awhile as they complete the learning process.

Also, know that it’s pointless to get upset when your house-training efforts aren’t taking hold in a very young puppy. At 8 weeks old they won’t really be able to hold it and you’re better off delaying training until they are between 12 and 16 weeks old. It doesn’t mean you can’t take them into the yard and give them lots of praise for eliminating outdoors. Doing this will also help to establish an area that they recognize as their bathroom.

Variables to Consider When Potty Training Your Puppy

Puppy Age

Your new puppy will be able to hold it for about an hour for each month of age. For instance, your 3-month-old puppy may be able to go up to 3 hours between bathroom breaks. This is more of a guideline than a rule, so be sure to get to know your pup’s individual needs. They may be 4 months old and still need to go out every 2 hours.

Big Breed or Small

Consider the size of the breed when determining how often they’ll need to be let out for a potty break. Smaller breeds have smaller bladders and a higher metabolic rate that keeps things moving along quickly. Give smaller breeds more opportunities to go out and you’ll have less “I just can’t hold it anymore” moments.

8 Puppy Potty Training Tips – How to Potty Train a Puppy

Consistency is Key

No matter how you choose to potty train your new puppy, they will learn faster if you follow the same steps every time you go for a potty break. An example of this could be calling them to you at the front door, leashing them up, walking to the same spot in the yard, and using the same vocal command (“go potty” is a good one) and the same vocal praise (maybe “good job”) each time. Developing a pattern like this will help them recognise that it’s time to go potty and help to keep them focused on the task at hand.

Positive Reinforcement

As a rule, only use positive reinforcement to train your dog. In the case of potty training, you’ll want to offer lots of praise each time they go to the bathroom outside. It’s what they want to be doing and you need to let them know that it’s what you want as well. Negative reinforcement will distract your pup from what it could be learning from the experience.

Never bring a puppy back to the site of an accident for punishment. They will have forgotten all about their mistake and won’t understand why they are being punished. Potty training a puppy is about learning and it only makes sense to provide reinforcement that allows your dog to learn proper behaviors.

Cleaning Up Accidents

If you can keep an area of your home from mistakenly becoming the elimination zone you’ll be doing your pup and yourself a favor. Use an enzyme-based pet stain and odor remover to keep them from smelling an old accident and getting confused. Be sure the clean-up is thorough and done immediately.

Develop a Schedule

What goes in must come out and when it comes to puppies you can usually set your watch by the time between when they eat or drink and need to eliminate. Feed them at the same times throughout the day and you’ll be going out at the same times every day too. Be sure to remove food bowls in between meals to avoid throwing your schedule off.

Know the Signs

With a little time and study of your puppy’s behavior you’ll be able to learn the signs that they need to go potty. Typically dogs will sniff intently in an area before they relieve themselves. If you find them sniffing around and around in the same spot, you’ll want to get them outside as quickly as possible. This may only last a few seconds in smaller dogs with little bladders. Older puppies may alert you by scratching at or sitting by the door, or whining or barking to try to get your attention.

Always Supervise Your Puppy

Mistakes usually happen when we’re not looking. If you know the signs of an impending potty and you’re always supervising your pup, you’ll rarely have an accident in the home. Of course we can’t watch our pups 24 hours a day, so keep them contained when you’re off duty.

No Water Before Bed

Pick up their water bowl about 2 hours before bed and you’ll have less of a chance of being woken up or finding an accident in the morning. Most puppies will reach a point of being able to sleep for around 7 hours as long as they haven’t topped off right before bed. If they do wake you with scratching at the door, whining, or barking, be sure to praise them because they are doing everything they can to avoid having an accident in the house.

If Your Pup Wakes You Up

If your puppy has woken you to take them outside, be as calm as possible and keep stimulation to a minimum. Turn on only the lights you need and only speak to them softly and briefly. If they get too excited they may want to play rather than returning to sleep.

In a perfect world you would bring home your new puppy and they would know exactly where to poop and pee. With a little work and consistency you can make this your reality. Just follow these tips and adapt to your puppy’s individual needs and they’ll be potty trained in no time!

We hope this has answered your questions on what to do and how to potty train a puppy.