How To Potty Train A Puppy

Learning how to Potty train a puppy can be a tedious task. The training can be performed in a variety of ways; all of which involve a lot of love and even more patience. The most popular methods are crate training, frequent trips outside, and paper training/pee pads (indoors). Each dog learns at a difference pace, and each breed poses different challenges for training.

You will find success through the training process if you commit to remaining consistent, patient, and positive around your new puppy. Never physically discipline your dog while training or for having an accident in the house, after all, they are new to this world and are learning more as each day passes. Physical discipline will not only scare them but may cause issues within going forward; it may even cause them to defecate accidentally.

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to potty training your brand new puppy. You will need to decide which of the following methods works best for you and your furball.

Method One: Confine and Define – Crate Training


This method isn’t nearly as cruel as it sounds. It is, in fact, the most common way to potty train a dog. You simply control the number of places your dog can be until they get used to using the restroom where appropriate. You incorporate the use of a crate to confine them throughout the day when you aren’t home or are unable to have eyes on them. Using a crate is not only beneficial for potty training, but it gives them a ‘safe place’ to be. Regardless of if you provide a safe place for them, dogs will find one for themselves, so why not give them an area to call their own.

If you attempt to crate train your dog, always make sure the crate is of adequate size. You don’t want to confine your dog to a tiny space they can’t move around in. Add in a blanket, a soft pad for comfort, or even a toy. And don’t worry about your dog soiling the cage, by nature, dogs don’t like urinating where they lay. They will instinctually know to keep their area clean; this is why crate training can come in handy; it habitually teaches discipline.


The general guideline for this method is as follows:


• Confine your puppy to a crate for the majority of their potty training period.

• Create a feeding schedule for your puppy. Do not allow them to eat food between meals.

• Know when to take them out (see below for a guide).

• Always take your puppy to relieve themselves in the same spot you last took them outside. Your puppy will be able to smell their scent and feel encouraged to go in the same spot as before. Dogs have a habit of marking their same spot.

• Reward your puppy every time they successfully use the restroom. You want to encourage this behavior until fully trained.

• If your puppy has been confined to the crate for many hours, be sure to take them pee immediately once you let them out.
They have been holding it all day.

• When you are home and have your eyes on them, the use of a crate isn’t necessary, as long as you continually let them outside.


Method Two: Frequent Trips Outside


Many believe that crate training is cruel for a dog to endure, so if that method isn’t for you and you have a good chunk of time at home throughout the day, try training with multiple trips outside. Get to know your puppy’s habits. Do they pee when excited? After they play? After drinking water? Know the signs and be sure to bring them outside immediately after a tell-tale occurs. This method of training is very invasive and allows room for slip ups since they will not be confined. So if you work from home, or can have someone pop in to check on your puppy / let him out to pee, this may be a good method for you.


The general guideline for this method is as follows:


• Keep a close eye on your puppy. Anytime you see them attempt to defecate immediately bring them outside.

• Section off an area of the house so they can’t have too much free space. You don’t want them wandering around and peeing where you can’t see.

• If the weather is nice and you can have them outside, monitor each time they use the bathroom and reward them when they go in an appropriate area. As a puppy, make sure to leash them off or use a yard chain to keep them confined to an open area. You are training them to potty train and giving them free range may allow them to think they can pee anywhere they like.

• Remove their water bowl a couple of hours before sleep. This will prevent them from going pee throughout the night.

• Take them pee before any significant activity (see guide below).


Method Three: Paper / Pee Pad Training


This is a common method a breeder will use once a litter is born. They will often confine the puppies to an average sized space, typically a doggy playpen or a sectioned off area. In this area, a newspaper will be placed in a particular spot, and by continually putting the puppies on the paper, they will eventually learn to defecate there. Puppy pads offer the same style of training. They have a particular scent that will attract a puppy to pee on it; it makes pad training easy. The only downside to this method is, once a puppy gets used to peeing on that spot, and if you only use this method of training, it will be a nasty habit to break them out of. If using this method while away from home, be sure to bring them outside for a pee as soon as you arrive back; continue to do so after any significant activity. This method of training is very popular with small breed dogs, especially the breeds that naturally have a small bladder or don’t like doing their business outside during the cold winter months.


The general guideline for this method is as follows:


• Use a gate or a puppy playpen to give them a defined space if you don’t want them roaming around.

• Put down newspaper or training pads in a designated area and keep that area consistent on a daily basis.

• Reward and praise them when they hit their mark. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

• Be sure to take them outside often and allow them to urinate on the grass/a particular area outdoors whenever possible. You don’t want them relying 100% on this method of training.

• Change the pad or paper often. This is the area they spend their day in; they need to know it should be kept clean.




Potty training is only hard if you don’t put forth the effort and time to do it properly. Research your breed of dog before diving into training. This will help significantly as each breed learns differently. For instance, if you’ve ever potty trained a small breed dog, you’ll know that it’s a much harder task. Their stomach is naturally smaller, and their bladder fills up rather quickly. So, don’t panic if they have the odd accident because they will typically need to use the bathroom more often.

Diet can be a large reason for housetraining problems. Puppies can only handle a certain amount of food. So stick to the required amount, and if possible, break their meal up into three small portions – this will be a great help.

Keep a close eye on your puppy to ensure they aren’t marking spots around your house. Don’t ignore them; always have a handle on what they are doing so you can break them out of a bad habit before it starts.

Make a schedule for your pup; this is key! As mentioned, know when to take them out! To break it down:

• First thing in the morning

• Right before bed

• After any meal

• After drinking water

• After playing

• After being confined to a space

• After a nap

• And after chewing a bone or toy

This won’t be something you need to do forever, just until your pup gets the hang of it. Eventually, they may even wait by the door and let you know when they need to pee.

Always use positive reinforcement, this will benefit you and your dog in more ways than one, and will grow an even stronger bond between the two of you!

Happy Training!


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