How to Potty Train Your Puppy

If you’re not ready to potty train or pick after your pooch and to be a full-time parent to an adorable little animal that will annoy you more times than you can imagine, then don’t get a puppy.

And I say this out of love.

The truth is that we all like to talk about and see the sunny side of having a cute pet a home. We like to show off our pups and how they know some cute tricks within months of coming home.

But, we hardly talk about the struggles we face. We don’t put out there our struggles with potty training or socialization.

Perhaps we do this out of fear of being seen as not being the best versions of ourselves (this is reflected in our pets and kids), but here’s something you should know – it’s a process.

There will be more than a few messes. Your first few attempts will fail. You will miss some cues. But, you will have a good outcome in the end.

I struggled. I hurt. I got frustrated. Nothing seemed to work. But as it turns out, I needed to be patient with myself and my German Shepherd.

Also, I had to research, listen to my pooch, learn to pick up on those subtle cues and learn to train my pooch from a place of love – especially when I was frustrated.

But my biggest lesson during the training process is this – dogs are among the cleanest creatures. Dogs, just like you do not like having urine-soaked rugs in their spaces, and even if it goes at the wrong spot, it will look for the next clean space to sleep in.

So, if you’re a new parent to the cutest, most adorable little pup, you’re in for some beautiful messes.

This article gives you tips for successful potty training. Also, you should start potty training as soon as your pup comes homes.

When you potty train your pup at the right time and place, you have a promise of a long, happy life together.

Potty Training Tips

Identify and Stick to a Potty Spot

The first rule to any successful relationship is the identification of boundaries or parameters within which you will operate. Apply this logic.

If you have a yard, identify one spot out on the yard where you’d like your pooch to ‘go.’ Make sure that this location is easily accessible from the door.

If you live in an apartment, also find a natural and easy-to-reach ground for your pooch to go. Make sure that the spot you select is out of the way from foot traffic and cars.

If the outdoors is not an option for you, get a piddle pad.

Now that you’ve identified a spot take your dog there every time it needs to go. Consistency is key here, and since dogs mark their territories with their pee/ excrement, you should not change their spot unless you have safety concerns.

Being territorial beings and with consistency, you won’t have to worry about your dog finish its business indoors or on the patch of freshly planted grass when they had the other spot you introduced to it the other day.

Paper Training and Puppy Pads

Though effective in the long run, the use of puppy pads or paper training is a tricky affair since you’re trying to reinforce two different thing and options for your pup.

There’s also the fact that in an ideal situation, your pup would have to hold it in while indoors and only eliminate in the designated spots.

In winter, this arrangement will not work, and you will have to find a puppy pad option for it to relieve itself indoors and at a designated spot.

As your dog matures, it will be possible for your dog to go outside exclusively.

Understand the Signs

What does your pup do when it wants to go? While dogs don’t speak human, they understand human cues even when they present in the most subtle of ways.

Do your part by learning those subtle cues used by your dog to send a message.

The good news is that your pooch will let you know; it will find a way to make you understand that it’s time to go.

  • Some of the cues include:
  • Pacing in circles
  • Smelling their rear side
  • Scratching or barking at the door
  • Squatting
  • Whining

Sniffing the floor

In the beginning, your pooch could show these signs a bit too late, but this doesn’t mean giving up and not letting them out.

Even when late, always be ready to open up the door. When you do this, your pup will know that their special spot always there for them.

For this to work, you also need to plan ahead.

Keep the leash by the door and usher the pup out as soon as you spot the signs.

Once it learns its spot, a dog always returns to the spot on its own. This is the reason why you need to choose one spot and stick to it.

Create a housetraining schedule

Puppy training is a vital part of the housetraining process. And given the fact that puppies have tiny bladders and also the biological fact that water will run through a puppy super-fast, you must come up with a tight schedule. Stool runs through fast as well.

You shouldn’t expect your pup to hold it for 12 hours (this is unreasonable even for you). So, how long is the expected time interval between trips to the bathroom?

Well, for a 6-month pup, the reasonable amount of time it can hold is 6 hours, and less for younger pups.

But you shouldn’t assume that this time works for every puppy. Remember that your puppy is an individual, and its timing will differ from the timing of another pup.

For an accurate schedule, monitor your pup’s daily habits with the events taking place around the dog.

Generally, you should expect to take your pup out at these times:

  • The first thing in the morning and the last thing before you turn in
  • After playing indoors
  • After spending time in the crate
  • After napping
  • After drinking and after eating
  • After chewing a bone or a toy

Now, this is where the actual parenting job comes in, and this schedule shows that you will be running around for the piddle pad or getting the door to rush out to the street or the backyard a dozen times, every day.

If you work, you should consider making some form of arrangement to maintain this schedule. If your place of work allows, bring your pup to work.

Alternatively, you could hire a dog walker.

Remember that potty training will be easier if you convey to your pooch the idea of preapproved potty spots and off-limit spots.

Understanding when your puppy needs to go depends on your observation and supervision. Watch the individual signs and rhythms carefully.

And remember that some puppies will hold it longer than others.

Crate Training

The idea of confining your pup in a crate could make you cringe, but once you start seeing how your lives get easier with the crate, your reluctance will disappear.

Crate training is important in potty training and in raising a dog. It makes life easier because your dog can spend some time in the crate playing while you focus on other tasks.

The best part about the use of crates and the benefits of crate training will come in during vet visits or when traveling.

This confined space will be the safest spot for your pooch, and once your dog learns that the crate is their safe spot, you will be surprised at how easy and happy your lives will be.

Don’t forget the fact that dogs are den animals and they always seek out some form of canine caves for their security, even when you don’t offer them.

As part of house training, crate training should be easy, especially if you keep the space safe and comfortable. But there’s one thing you should never do, buying a crate that’s too big for your pooch.

The crate should be big enough for your pooch to sit, lie on it, turn around, and stand. It should not, however, be too big because when it’s extra-large, your puppy will feel that it’s okay to use the corner for elimination then settle away from the mess they just made.

What if you want to buy one crate that should fit the pup when it matures?

Well, that was me a few years ago, and you will be happy to know that some crates have partitions that you can adjust to meet the growing pup.

Remember that even with your pup in the crate, you still need to watch out for cues and take it to their spot as soon as it starts scratching or whining.

If you delay and let your pup go in the crate, it will get the idea that it’s okay to go in the crate.

Diet Control

Since puppies have an underdeveloped digestive system, they are unable to handle a lot of food, and you have to break up their feedings to three or four small meals to meet its daily caloric needs.

Also, you need to buy the highest quality puppy food with nutrient constituents needed for your puppy for good health and optimal growth.

This food should be free of artificial additives, colors, preservative, or flavors.

By watching how much your puppy eats, it’s easy to tell when it needs to go. Don’t forget to examine the poop as it tells you whether it’s time to switch up the diet or not.

For example, if your puppy’s excrement is stinky, loose, and bulky, it’s time for a change in diet. Consult your vet, though.

It’s also important to remember that overfeeding your pup could cause diarrhea, a situation that will make potty training more difficult.

Praise your pup

Like every other housebreaking training, praising your dog is the easiest way for you to ensure that your dog follows your simple rule.

Positive reinforcement/ praise is quite effective, and you should also know by now that scolding your puppy for soiling the rug will not make much of a difference.

Rubbing its poop on its face will not work either.

But, praising a puppy works surprisingly well when your puppy does the right thing. And be effusive. Go all out. Clap, cheer and give them their favorite cookie.

Doing this makes your pup know that peeing in the right place is the biggest accomplishment in its life and nothing can replace what they just did. So, go on.

Reward your puppy for the little achievements. Soon, you won’t have to deal with soiled rugs.

Also, if your dog has an accident, don’t fuss over it. Clean up the mess as fast as possible. This might be frustrating, but a clean space means no odors or dog scent, and most importantly, no accidents on that spot in the future.

Potty training also means picking up your pooch and taking it outside or on the puppy pad if you catch it, starting to squat to defecate or urinate. It also means cheering him/ her on if s/he does its business outside.

In potty training, preventing is critical.

What do you do if you have a lapdog that piddles all over the house?

Unfortunately, this is a common issue for people who have toy dogs. You could, however, overcome this problem by teaching your tiny pooch to use the indoor potty spot, the same way the cat uses the litter box.

There are potty boxes and piddle pads on the market. Just be consistent in training.


Potty training for puppies essential, but you should know that two puppies will not be litter trained within the same duration.

Their age, their learning history, training methods, and your consistency will determine how fast your puppy learns. Some pups learn within weeks, others need months of training.

But, all dogs can be potty trained if you’re patient.

This book on the Secrets to Dog Training should help you with housebreaking.