Dog Potty Training Tips – Best Practices for Potty Training Success!


Potty training seems like a daunting task! It really does. I know people who avoid getting puppies just to skip this process, and in some ways I totally understand that! Puppies really are a LOT of work, and it is not just potty training! It can be varying aspects of housebreaking, teaching your puppy manners, making certain that it is well socialized, addressing early issues like persistent whining or separation anxiety before they become permanent problems, and tons of more areas to make sure that your puppy is on track to being a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog.

Luckily, we’ve compiled some dog potty training tips just to make sure that Rover isn’t ruining the carpet.

Look. Nobody will tell you that potty issues in dogs are okay. In fact, they’re often the biggest problems that casual dog owners will have with their puppies.

And, the good news is that if you have an older dog that needs a little help in this area, that is no problem at all, even old dogs can learn a few new tricks! We have the perfect dog potty training tips for you.

Expect Accidents

You wouldn’t bring a baby home from the hospital and expect no dirty diapers and you wouldn’t smack your toddler in the face for having a bad day or an accident or two. So expect that your pup is going to make mistakes.

Puppies gain bladder control and the ability to control their bowels at different times. Some puppies are very proficient when they are very young and some puppies take longer to gain this control and understanding. If you expect it, you won’t be surprised or livid when it happens and you will be prepared to deal with it appropriately!


It’s human nature to look for what’s wrong and take what’s right for granted. But we need to do the complete opposite with our puppies. Always reward and praise good behavior and ignore the things that go wrong. This is especially true with potty training process accidents. Bathroom mistakes are inevitable with puppies, so please don’t overreact and frighten or punish your pup.


Here are Some Tips for Handling Potty Accidents:

Interrupt your puppy if you catch him in the act of having an accident. Don’t scare or startle him. Marking the behavior with a quiet hand clap or the words “oh-oh” should be enough to stop him mid-stream. Punishing him in the act will only teach him not to go in front of you, leading to a dog that sneaks behind the couch to go in private.

Take your puppy to his designated potty spot as soon as you catch him. If he stopped when you interrupted him, he might finish on the potty spot and you can reward him when he does. If he doesn’t finish on the designated potty spot, at least you have shown him where he should have gone.

Do nothing if you don’t see the accident happen. Showing your puppy after the fact won’t teach him anything about potty training. If you want to scold somebody, lecture yourself for not supervising closely enough.

Clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. Dogs are attracted to the smell of previous business, and a dog’s nose is extremely powerful, so thorough and proper cleaning is essential.

If you’re struggling with potty training your new pup, just remember all the puppy training tips that were described above.

Don’t Get Angry or Lose Your Temper

If you catch your puppy going potty in the house don’t freak out!

Simply, and calmly say “no” or “ehh!” and scoop your puppy out and take him outside.

If you throw a fit and scare your puppy he associates YOU with something bad, not having an accident or going potty in the house.

From your puppy’s point of view… he has to go potty (right?) so he doesn’t understand why you get so upset at something that is so natural for him to do and something he needs to do. By yelling you are teaching him to avoid going potty “in front of you” you are not potty training him!

This is why so many dogs sneak out of the room to urinate or defecate, not because they are ashamed or they know it is wrong to potty inside… it is because they have been taught not to go potty in front of you (which makes this process so much harder!).

It’s easy to get frustrated with your new puppy when potty training is taking longer than you expected. But it’s essential to be patient during this process. Remember, potty training takes time. Don’t expect more from your pup than he is able to deliver. The following points will help you keep your cool:

A pup can’t control his bladder until he is 16 weeks old. So as much as you might like him to wait, he simply can’t. A puppy can only hold his bladder as long as his age in months plus one hour. So, a four-month-old pup can only hold it for five hours. That includes during the night as well.

Every breed is different. For example, a toy breed might need more frequent potty breaks due to a fast metabolism and tiny bladder. Every pup is different, even within breeds. Your first puppy might have been potty trained in a few weeks, but your next one might need months.

Positive Reinforcement and Praise

Your puppy doesn’t enjoy getting scolded, as was already stated. On the other hand, your puppy loves praise or positive reinforcement. When your puppy is doing something right, you should reward him. Scolding a puppy for soiling your rug, especially after the fact, isn’t going to do anything except make her think you’re a nut. Likewise, some old methods of punishment, like rubbing a dog’s nose in her poop, are so bizarre that it’s hard to imagine how they came to be and if they ever worked for anyone.

On the other hand, praising a puppy for doing the right thing works best for everything you will do in your life together. Make her think that she is a little canine Einstein every time she performs this simple, natural act. Be effusive in your praise—cheer, clap, throw cookies. Let her know that no other accomplishment, ever—not going to the moon, not splitting the atom, not inventing coffee—has been as important as this pee.

Crate Training is Your Friend

Crates are not devices of torture, they are tools to help you with the potty training process and other things (like keeping your puppy from eating things he shouldn’t).

The principle behind using a crate for housetraining is that dogs are very clean creatures and don’t like a urine-soaked rug in their living spaces any more than you do. It’s important that the crate is the right size—just large enough for the dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around. If it is too large, the dog will feel that it’s OK to use one corner for elimination and then happily settle down away from the mess. Many crates come with partitions so you can adjust the size as your puppy grows.

When she feels an urge, the puppy will usually let you know by whining and scratching. That’s her signal that she has to go and wants out of her little den. Now! Don’t delay because if you let your pup lose control in her crate, she’ll get the idea that it’s OK to mess up her living space. Then she’ll think nothing of leaving little packages around where you live, too.

Utilize a crate and make your life easier. People who bring their puppies straight home and allow complete access to the house, have the most trouble with potty training. Utilize a crate and the process will be easier for you both. A crate is an important potty training tool because dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep.

To help teach your dog how to love his crate, watch this video:

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Plus, a strong denning instinct means that if you introduce a crate properly, your puppy will see it as his safe space rather than a punishment. Keep the following in mind when introducing a crate to your puppy:

Choose an appropriately sized crate. Your pup should be able to lie down and turn around but with no extra room. If the crate is too large, your puppy can use one end as a toilet which will delay potty training.

Use dividers with a larger crate. If you buy a crate for your dog’s adult size, dividers can help the crate “grow” with your pup.

Associate the crate with wonderful things. If you put treats in the crate, feed your puppy at the back of the crate, and leave food-stuffed chew toys in the crate, your puppy will learn to love it.

Reward your puppy for going in his crate. He will be happy to go inside if it’s a rewarding place to be. Although a crate is great for a quiet time out, don’t use it for punishment.

Take your puppy straight to his designated potty spot outside whenever you let him out of his crate.

Going Outdoors for Potty Time

A word of advice – DO NOT use potty pads; use an outdoor potty spot right away, instead. Many people are proponents of potty pads, but they can be counterintuitive at times. Yes, if you train your doggy properly, it will go potty on the potty pad when it’s time to eliminate. What happens when you take the potty pad away, though, and your dog has developed this routine of going on the pad?

Even if you try to transition to the outdoors, your puppy will be confused because you will likely have items resembling potty pads lying around the house. Do you have pillows? Blankets? Sheets? Rugs? It’s not a stretch to think that your puppy, or an older dog, even, may confuse one or more of these items with plushy, soft potty pads and decide it would rather go there than outdoors. Just save yourself the headache and don’t use puppy pads.

When it’s time to take your puppy to the outdoors, many of the tips above can be applied in the same way. Simply take your puppy outside. This advice can help along the way:

Teach your puppy a potty cue like “Hurry Up” or “Go Potty.” Start by using the cue whenever your puppy is about to go, and then reward him as soon as he finishes. With enough repetition, you will be able to ask your puppy to go where and when it’s convenient for you, including in the outdoor toilet area – or potty spot.

Pick a Specific Spot Outside

Remember earlier how we talked about losing your temper when your dog goes potty! If you do that, this step will be painful for you both. You need your pup to be comfortable going potty in front of you so that you can learn his schedule. Pick a certain place outside in your yard and be sure to take your puppy to it each time you take him outside!

Be sure to go with him and watch him and calmly praise him when he goes. Don’t go crazy praising him, or he is liable to stop, just calmly let him know that he is good! It doesn’t matter if it is 100 degrees or 10 below zero; raining or snowing, if you don’t go outside and monitor your puppy, you will not know if or when he is going potty outside which means he is likely to come back inside and go potty.

Puppies would much rather play with leaves and bugs than go potty, if you aren’t there to see that you won’t know your pup needs to go back into his crate and come out again 5-10 minutes later! He will learn to sneak away, and have accidents inside. If you leave him outside for an extended period of time, chances are when you bring him back in he will need to go outside again soon or have an accident.

Establish a Routine

Both dogs and humans benefit from a predictable, consistent house training routine. This routine should account for confinement time, potty breaks, meal times, play time, training time, walks, and all the other enriching activities that are part of your dog’s daily life. Routines make your job easier and help your new puppy get use to your lifestyle.

Feed your puppy at the same time each day. Give him naps in his crate regularly at the same time so your pup gets use to a routine and gets into a habit. Take him outside and play with and train him on a schedule so he gets the attention he needs.

Take him out about every 2 hours (if he is awake) to go potty. As soon as your puppy wakes up, take him outside to potty. Use a cue, such as “hurry up” or “go potty,” and use praise and treats to reward him for pottying outside and to encourage him to continue to do so.

If you want to walk your puppy in the morning, do it after he’s pottied — business first, then play. A rule of thumb is to walk no more than five minutes per month in age; this protects the growing bones and joints from damage. After the walk, it’s time for breakfast and then another trip outside to potty as soon as breakfast is finished.

If you can keep an eye on the puppy while it plays, provide some safe bones and toys. If you’ll be busy with other things, or going to work, put the puppy in his crate with a safe chew toy. Take him out for one last potty trip before you leave for the day.


Supervise your puppy at all times. Supervision means he can’t sneak away and go potty in another room or behind furniture – or anywhere besides his potty spot. It also means that he won’t be chewing on items he shouldn’t or getting into other trouble.

Supervision is imperative with young puppies!

I recommend an inside tether (never leave him alone on a tether) and keeping him with you on a leash if you need to at all times! If you can’t watch him, crate him even if it is only for a few minutes. You would never leave your baby crawling around with open outlets and dangerous things to chew on, would you? Why would you leave a puppy?

It’s important to watch your puppy at all times for safety, but this is also the key to successful potty training. You can’t prevent accidents if you don’t have your eyes on the dog. Here are some puppy training tips to help with supervision:

Take your puppy to the designated outdoor potty spot frequently. How often will depend on his age and bladder strength. For very young puppies, it could be as often as every 15 minutes. Better a wasted trip than an accident.

Set a timer if you’re having trouble remembering when to take your puppy outside to his designated potty spot – or outdoor toilet, if you will.

Watch your puppy for telltale signs he has to go such as sniffing the ground, circling, or whining. When you see those signs, take him straight to his potty spot outside.

Use a long leash if you are having trouble keeping your pup in sight, keeping the puppy close to the potty spot. Tie the leash to heavy furniture or around your waist to limit your puppy’s movements.

Put your puppy in a crate or a safe area whenever you can’t supervise him. Always, always remember to take your puppy to his or her potty spot when they have to go! If they’re going in multiple areas, or a wide range, then A) you are more likely to stumble upon an unpleasant surprise while walking around your yard; and B) it’s easier for your puppy to create another potty spot by creating a habit of eliminating somewhere off-limits.

It is All About YOU

Stop thinking that potty training is about your puppy! Potty training is all about you and it is your responsibility when he is young to help him be successful. Get him outside about every two hours, monitor him outside and when he is inside and be diligent!

Sure, accidents happen.  But, if you make it your goal to ensure his success, you will both be happy in a short amount of time!

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