How to Potty Train a Puppy

How to Potty Train a Puppy

by Scritch

The addition of a new puppy is an exciting time full of playing, exploring, and inevitably, potty training. With plenty of patience and consistency, your new dog will quickly learn, and you won’t have to be in training mode for very long. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with these easy guidelines. 

Establish a routine

Begin by setting up a schedule of what time your puppy will eat each day and what time is bedtime. Generally speaking, puppies can hold their bladder about 1 hour for every month of age, so 2-month-old pups need the opportunity to go out every 2 hours or more.

So, set your puppy up for potty training success by sticking to this schedule and going outside frequently, meaning right after they wake up, right after a meal, and during or right after play. About two hours before bedtime, you’ll want to remove access to the water dish so they make it through the night. 

Throw a potty party

Equip yourself with tasty treats and a favorite toy each time you head outdoors. Any time your dog successfully goes potty outside, be sure to pull out all the stops to let him know he did a good thing. The best rewards come in a combination of the following: verbal praise (“Good potty! You did it!”), a physical touch such as scritches behind the ears, many treats, or receiving a special toy. 

Keep an eye on your pup

Regardless of your dog’s age, your new furry friend should be closely attended to during his first few weeks in your home for multiple reasons, including keeping them out of trouble. With a close watch on your puppy, you will be able to pick up on clues that they are about to ‘go’. If you notice signs such as determined sniffing or circling, restlessness, or squatting, you may be able to prevent an accident by distracting them. Try clapping your hands or call their attention to you by saying (but not yelling) “uh oh!” or “outside!”, then scoop them up and rush outside to finish the deed. If they finish there, be sure to praise them. 

It may be helpful to set up barriers or baby gates to keep your puppy confined to a certain area, such as the kitchen, with hard floors since they are easier to clean. When you are unable to supervise your dog, confine them to a small area (after they have gone potty) or a crate if you’ve decided to crate train your dog. By instinct, dogs do not want to soil their sleeping quarters, so a space just large enough to comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down is ideal.

Accidents happen - don’t be mad at your pup, simply tidy up

During the potty-training stage, accidents are bound to happen. Upon finding a soiled area, it’s too late to try to correct your dog – for them, the moment has already passed. Your job is to simply clean the area with an enzymatic solution to remove all traces. Dogs and puppies are more likely to ‘go’ in the same spot if it smells like urine or feces, so be thorough! Old fashioned methods of punishment such as yelling or rubbing the dog’s nose in his mess will not help to correct the behavior, but will only serve to make your dog afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Your puppy will appreciate your patience and understanding during this learning period. 

Potty training tools

Additional tools for potty training come with pros and cons and may work well for some and not others. For example, wee pads can help prevent stains on your floors, but they may also encourage your puppy to continue to eliminate inside, causing confusion about where they are supposed to go. Giving your dog a bell by the door might help them communicate when they need to go potty, but be warned! An overzealous dog could learn to abuse the power of the bell and use it any time they want to simply go out to play.