puppy potty training tips

How to Potty Train a Puppy The Right Way: 7 Essential Tips

Training is about to become a big part of your routine if you’ve recently adopted a puppy. One of the most important elements of training your dog to live happily in your home is potty training. By training your dog to let you know when they have to relieve themselves, you’ll avoid the headache of cleaning up after your pet and feel confident leaving the house for more extended periods.  

Here are some tips for potty training your puppy.  

Start training at the right time. 

You should begin potty training your puppy as young as 8 weeks, but at this point, you are basically preventing your dog from having accidents and teaching him where he should eliminate rather than expecting him to go out on his own. The real training will begin between 12-16 weeks. This is when your dog will have more control over their bladder and bowel movements, so they’ll be better equipped to follow through with your commands of when to hold it and when to not. If you start training an older dog, know that it could take longer for them to get the hang of things. 

Tip: As a rule of thumb, a dog can hold their bladders for one hour for every month of age up to about 9 months to a year.

Create a Housetraining Routine. 

Try to let your puppy out to use the bathroom at the same time each day. Set a timer. At 8-10 weeks, plan on taking your puppy out hourly, and then increase the time in hour increments. Whatever your routine is, do your best to stick to it. This will help your dog’s body to physically adjust to when they’re allowed to go to the bathroom. Additionally, when you let your puppy out, use the same doorway. This helps to signal your puppy that it’s time for them to relieve themselves! 

Plan on taking your puppy out:

  • First thing in the morning
  • After eating or drinking
  • After playing
  • Upon waking from a nap
  • After spending time confined
  • Right before he goes to bed

Tip: Puppies will need to urinate approximately 15 minutes after drinking water and will need to poop within 20 minutes of eating.

Control Their Intake

Feeding your puppy smaller meals, several times per day is recommended as they have immature digestive systems when they are young. Feeding smaller meals will also help prevent your pup from grazing which can make potty training much more difficult. When your puppy is finished eating or drinking make sure you take up his food and water bowl. This will allow you to have a better idea of when your puppy will need to go outside. When left down, it is easy for your puppy to sneak in a drink of water without you knowing, and then you may not be prepared to take him out when he needs to go.

Whether you are feeding him two, or three, or four times per day, make sure to feed him on the same schedule. A regular feeding schedule will make house training your puppy so much easier. Smaller meals several times per day are preferred for puppies as their digestive system has not fully developed. This will also prevent your puppy from grazing.

Tip: Your puppy’s last meal should be at least four hours before bedtime and his water should be taken away 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Supervision and Confinement are Your Puppy Potty Training Friends

Whether you are using a tether, a baby gate, or a crate, it is essential to keep the puppy by your side while potty training. This helps you keep a better watch for signs your puppy may be giving you that he needs to go to the bathroom such as circling, scratching, and whining so you can take him out before he has an accident.

Crates are recommended and a highly effective tool for potty training a puppy. Puppies typically are good about not soiling in their crate, as long as the crate is the appropriate size and not too big. Keep a leash near your pup’s crate and whenever you are taking him out of the crate, you should immediately put the leash on, as it limits distractions, and then take him directly outside.

Crates not only help keep accidents in one space, but they also prevent your dog from getting confused. If they’re free to roam out of your site, they may find a spot to go without you knowing. The more often this ends up happening the more likely they are to continue back to that spot, which may regress the training that you have already completed. In addition, crates and other methods of supervision and confinement can also prevent your puppy from getting into harmful household items or other unwanted behaviors such as using your brand new shows as their new chew toy.

Tip: Puppies develop substrate preferences after 3-5 voidings. Meaning that your puppy eliminates 3 times on your rug, your rug is now an inside toilet, your puppy eliminates 3-5 times on the grass outdoors, you now have an outdoor toilet.

Praise Your Pup

As with any training, it’s essential to reward your puppy when they do well with potty training. If they bark or signal in some other way that they have to go to the bathroom, encourage them with a “Good dog!” Once they’ve gone into the yard to do their business, give them a reward immediately after, such as a treat, a loving pet, or a walk around the block to let them know they’ve done what they were supposed to.

Tip: Puppies often will not fully eliminate on the first try. Once your puppy has peed, keep him outside and wait to see if he pees again in just a few minutes. This will prevent an accident in the house right after having taken him out.

Rewarding your dog any time they do something good will encourage continued good behavior. 

Tip: Do not wait till you go back inside to reward your puppy. This is likely to result in your pet wanting to go immediately back inside, after being let out so that he can get his reward, without having fully eliminated.

Be Prepared for Accidents 

With puppies, accidents are bound to happen around the house. It’s important to remember that they’re in a stage of learning, and there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle a puppy accident. Simply clean the mess up calmly and move on. Make sure you clean up the mess efficiently, dogs have an extremely keen sense of smell, and if the odor lingers, even when you can not smell it, they may go right back to that same spot. Do not rub your dog’s nose in it, scream and yell at him, or punish him in any other way.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The links below are affiliate links for products that I use and recommend to my clients. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Using the links will not cost you anything but we will earn a VERY SMALL commission. For more details see our disclaimer page.

Tip: In every puppy parents supply kit should exist a pet stain enzymatic cleaner, I have found that Vetoquinol Equalizer Pet Stain and Odor Remover is the best product on the market for puppy potty training clean up.

puppy potty training


To limit the number of accidents you and your puppy experience, do your best to keep to a routine. Take plenty of walks and create opportunities for your puppy to go outside so that they don’t feel compelled to relieve themselves in your home. 

If your puppy is still having problems with potty training and cannot hold their urine or stool, schedule your puppy for a check-up with a urinalysis and fecal test and deworming by your DVM. Consult with your Veterinarian regarding your puppy’s diet or schedule a nutrition consultation.

Do you need help potty training your dog? Wagging Right offers private in-home puppy training sessions as well as virtual sessions. Contact us today to learn more about our puppy training courses.  

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