Puppy Potty training can be extremely frustrating but if you understand the fundamentals, potty training can be a piece of cake. It is important to set up a potty, play, sleep routine for your puppy and learn his cues when he needs to potty. Puppies, like children, have small bladders and can only hold their potty a limited time.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: The general rule of thumb on how long your puppy can hold his bladder is one hour longer than however many months old they are.
That means if your puppy is three months old, he can hold his bladder about four hours. Obviously, there is a cap on that rule, your one year old puppy usually can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to, hold his bladder thirteen hours. Use common sense and err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure of your puppy’s bladder control.
Dogs are generally clean animals; they do not like to potty where they eat or sleep. A crate, once familiarized, will become a den for your puppy. If you feed him his meals in it and have him sleep in it for naps and night time, he will not want to potty in it.
Crate training your puppy
Therefore, invest in a crate before your puppy even comes home (refer to crate section for size and type) and set it up in a quiet area of your home. I recommend putting it in your bedroom at first for several reasons.
- It will make your puppy feel more comfortable and safe if they know you are in the room (by sight, smell or both).
- It will be easier to know your puppy’s potty signals if you can hear him rustling around or whimpering. Third, your puppy will be nearby to take him out instead of across the house.
When your puppy comes home, familiarize him with the crate to help him feel safe and secure inside (see crate familiarization section).
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: I usually recommend not putting any kind of bedding inside the crate because the bedding will absorb any accident your puppy may have in the crate.
This would negate the uncomfortable feeling your puppy should get from pottying in his crate. If you are worried about your puppy being cold or uncomfortable, you may put a towel or light blanket inside, just check it frequently to make sure it is staying clean and your puppy isn’t chewing it up.
Once your puppy is comfortable with the crate, your potty training mission can commence.
How to recognize when your puppy needs to go potty
Puppies need to potty frequently especially when they are very young. The most predictable times are first thing in the morning, after they play hard or eat, and after waking up from a nap. Most puppies will get up and start sniffing the ground, often times in a circle. Once they find a suitable spot, they will commence with doing their “business”.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: Whenever your puppy isn’t in his crate, you should keep an eye on him.
Take your puppy potty on a leash
If he starts to sniff and circle, give a command like “let’s go potty” and take your puppy outside on a leash.
- The reason you want your puppy on leash is to prevent him from going outside and playing instead of pottying.
- Keeping him on a leash until he goes will teach him that he must potty first when he gets outside and can play after.
Once outside, give the command “go potty” or whatever command you want to use and let your puppy do his business. Immediately after he goes, give your puppy a ton of praise and a treat outside. You may then take him off leash and play a game of chase or catch or you can just let him explore.
Puppy accidents in the house
If you catch your puppy having an accident in the house:
- Clap your hands loudly and say “No! Potty outside!” and immediately take him outside on leash to finish his potty.
- Once he finishes pottying, give tons of praise and a treat outside to reinforce that pottying outside is a highly rewarding experience.
Clapping your hands and using a stern voice will startle your puppy and make it a bit scary for him to potty in the house. This is good and hopefully, he will think twice before he does it again. Depending on your dog’s temperament, it may take several weeks or months to potty train or it may only take one or two corrections total.
Be consistent in your potty training?
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: The key is to be consistent about watching your puppy and catching them in the act.
If your puppy has an accident and you discover it after the fact, it is too late to discipline your puppy. He will not understand why you are yelling and definitely, do not rub his nose in it. This is not fair to your puppy and will only make him fearful of you.
- Simply clean up the mess
- Be more diligent next time about watching your puppy
If you are doing something around the house and can’t keep an eye on your puppy, he should be in his crate. Be fair to him, though, and don’t leave him in there all day while you watch TV or read a book. Puppies have energy and need time to play and explore their environment.
Potty training at night
Expect to have to get up with your puppy a couple of times during the night with him until he gets to be about six months old or so.
PUPPY POTTY TRAINING TIP: To help your puppy hold his bladder longer at night, you can take up his water about an hour or so before bedtime and don’t feed your puppy later than two hours before bedtime.
This will ensure that your puppy will go to bed with an empty bladder and will have had time to empty his bowels as well. Try to keep the activities calm before bedtime as well so that your puppy doesn’t play a lot and then need a drink.
If you are consistent about catching your puppy before he goes in the house and rewarding lavishly when he potties outside, your puppy will be potty trained in no time!
My biggest issue right now is potty training. He knows to go outside and he is good about holding it when we are home. Before we leave we take him out and it never fails that even if we are gone for 5 minutes he will also go in the house. I'm not sure how to break this because we don't have a crate for him just yet. Any suggestions?
Our little girl is 4 months old now. We started trying to train her in the kitchen as soon as we got her at the age of 9 weeks. We put up a baby gate to keep her in the kitchen for the first month. The first few days we just watched to see what area she would automatically potty in. Then we put the puppy pads down in that spot. She goes on the pad now when we are not home and we don't have to leave her locked in the kitchen to do that. Also, we take her outside every few hours and say, "let's go potty outside Jade" (took her our every hour or two at first). We walk to the same tree outside and she will sniff around it and potty then turn and run back to the front door when she is done. We don't even have to put her on a leash. I give her verbal praise as soon as she starts to potty. Then when we get back inside I give her a little treat and praise her some more. She is very eager to learn!
I have noticed the hard way that consistancy is key though. My fiance will allow her to do things that she should not be doing. Especially not at this age while she learning right from wrong. She will quickly revert to bad habits when he is inconsistent with her. Like when he allows her to chew on a certain stuffed animal and then that teaches her that she can chew on any of them. Or when she chews on an old shoe...she things she can chew on any shoe, etc. I can reteach her in 5-10 minutes, but that just shows how quick of learners they are! Don't worry, I DO scold my fiance for confusing her. He is just a guy though and doesn't always see the importance. I guess he will when she finally sinks her (full grown) teeth in a good pair of his shoes.
Re: Potty training problems
If you set your puppy up on a potty schedule, you should be able to predict when he needs to go potty. A good schedule for a four month old puppy would be every three to four hours during the day unless he has drank a lot of water or has just been sleeping or playing hard. At the times when he/she has just gone, you know that the barking is an attention getting behavior and then you should ignore it. Most likely what is happening is your puppy is bored with whatever is going on inside and thinks it would be more fun to be outside. So, your puppy begins barking and you let him out. Voila, puppy just got what he wanted! You may want to consider changing the behavior he uses to tell you he needs to potty. For example, you could teach him to ring a bell but that too could get annoying if he repetitively rings it. Or better yet, take him out to potty whenever he goes to the door but before he starts barking. This will teach him that he only goes out when he's quiet and not when he barks. Also, make sure you are taking him out on leash to make him potty first before play. If you take him out and he doesn't potty, he doesn't get to get off the leash and must come back inside. If he does potty, he can then be released from the leash to play. This will teach him that he will not be allowed to have fun outside unless he goes potty first and may help with the barking situation because he will only bark when he really needs to go. If you are sure that your puppy just pottied and he is still barking at the door, you could use a squirt bottle with a mixture or water and vinegar and squirt him to correct the barking. Use the command "no bark" as you spray the water but don't use this discipline unless you are sure that he doesn't need to go. Putting him on a schedule will definitely help you discern his barking. Hope this helps.
Pottie Training Problems
My 4 month old lab frequently barks at the back door to go out whether he needs to go pottie or not. I cannont discern one from the other and therefore I either have to let him out constantly or guess or wait for him to have an accident in the house; any suggestions???? HELP!!
The water in the bottle is what worked on my puppy. It was cold and stuned him. It didn't take but a few days for him to decided he would rather be quiet that be sprayed. Good luck.
Re: Potty Training
Are you keeping a close eye on him when he is out? I would recommend reinstituting the crate, possibly investing in a citronella bark collar to correct the barking when you can't be there to correct it yourself. Try feeding him in there, have in sleep in it at night, and put it in your room. If he starts barking at night, especially, you can spray him with a squirt bottle and say "quiet". When you are home and can keep an eye on him, watch him like a hawk and try to anticipate when he needs to go out (watch for circling and sniffing). Also, make sure you are cleaning the spots where he potties with a cleaner that targets the enzymes in urine or feces and completely eliminates the smell. It could be he continues to potty because he can still smell the spot. If you need to do something like vacuum and you can't keep an eye on him, he should be in his crate. Some breeds have a tendency to take a lot longer to potty train so, be patient and be consistent.
Potty Training I've been trying to potty train my puppy for almost five months. I praise him when he goes outside, and I startle him, then take him outside when he starts to go in the house. I take him outside after play, naps, and about 30 min after dinner. But he won't get it. I tried crate training him, but he wouldn't quit barking even though I ignored it, and I live in an apartment so I don't want the complaints. So he stays in the bathroom and goes all in there.
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