Dog potty training can be a challenge, but we're to make it easier with tips and advice for how to potty train a puppy.
Bringing home a puppy for the first time and watching them realize that it’s their new home is amazing. Potty training dogs is not.
We’re not going to lie and tell you it’s going to be super easy. It will take time, cooperation, and lots of patience. A lot of effort goes in, from both you and your dog. They have to learn this new skill in a new place with new rules, and you have to be dedicated to teaching your new pal and helping them through accidents and little mishaps.
Don't worry, here are all the steps and tips you’ll need for potty training dogs.
Gear for Potty Training Dogs
Be prepared for accidents, because they will happen. When they do, you’ll want to have these things on hand:
- Several bottles of cleaning spray that’s made for cleaning up dog pee and poop
- Fixed-length leash
- Small, tasty puppy or adult dog treats
- Poop bags
Keep a Dog Potty Training Log
Yes, this is another task for you to take on, but it can be very helpful. You can do this with just pen and paper, or use a spreadsheet or even an app. Track every time they pee and poop. Note any signs you noticed and how long it was in between times they went.
After you’ve logged about a week of pees and poops, you can look for patterns of certain times they need to go and what signs they give before they go.
How to Potty Train a Puppy
When you’re potty training a puppy, you need to clear your calendar for a while. This is going to take some time, and you have to be ready to go all in for it to work.
Puppies don’t know when they need to go, and they’re super distracted by all the new, fun stuff in the world to automatically know to pee or poop when they go outside.
About 85% of potty training is really you changing your schedule, being vigilant and consistent in taking them out, and learning the signs that they need to go. Watch for signs like sniffing around or circling around a spot. If you see these signs, take your pup out immediately to go.
Always use a leash to take your pup outside to potty. Do not give them free run of the yard. Remember that everything is so fun and interesting to explore, and your puppy will get distracted and may even get into something dangerous.
Take your pup on a walk on the leash. When your puppy poops or pees while on the leash, say a potty command at that moment, like “do your poop!” If you say it over and over the whole time you’re outside, they won’t associate it with the act of going potty. Give them a yummy treat immediately after they do go potty so they associate the two. Don’t take too long after they go potty to give them the treat.
You can also try giving them an off-leash play session in your yard or inside right after they go potty. Then they will start to learn that they are on the leash to take care of business first, and then it’s playtime.
Be sure to serve mealtimes at the same time every day so they can create a potty routine. Give them access to fresh water all day, but pick up the water dish about an hour or two before bedtime.
If you notice that your puppy is struggling to go, or they have diarrhea, see your vet right away. If their poop looks fine, but you’ve tried all of the steps and it’s just not working, talk to your vet about whether you should make an appointment.
When to Take Your Puppy Out
So, how often do puppies need to go out to potty? A lot. To start, you need to take them out every 30-45 minutes. Yes, you read that right.
A general guide is that puppies can hold it for only an hour for every month they are old. So for a 2-month-old puppy, that’s 2 hours. But you will need to start with every 30 minutes or so and work up to that no matter how old your puppy is. You will be able to space it out further as you go along, according to how it’s going.
Here are all the other times you’ll need to take your puppy outside:
As soon as you first wake up, don’t stop to do anything else. Take your puppy outside immediately. If you don’t wake up early or the same time each day, set an alarm to take them out early in the morning (around 7 a.m.).
After your puppy wakes up from any sleep period, including naps
After mealtimes, within 10-15 minutes after they finish eating
A few minutes after drinking a lot of water
After good play sessions, like a game of fetch or tug of war
Whenever you notice signs, like sniffing, whimpering, and/or circling a certain spot
During the night, every 2-3 hours
Where to Keep Your Puppy While Potty Training
Do not give your puppy free access to the whole house or even a whole room. Create a cozy corner or area of a room for your puppy–right by you. Ideally this will be in a room with tile, wood, or laminate flooring or some other hard floor that’s easily cleaned.
You can section off the room with dog gates and designate an area for sleeping with a soft bed. The smaller the area, the easier it is to keep your eye on your pup and the less risk of finding hidden poops or pee puddles somewhere in the room.
At night, you might want to use a crate for your puppy to sleep in. The crate should never be a punishment, and your puppy should see it as a nice, safe spot to rest. Put a bed inside that takes up the floorspace of the crate. Make sure your puppy has room to stand up, lie down, and turn around, but not more room than that.
Leave the crate open during the day and give them puppy-safe rubber treat toys to chew on while they hang out there. Then when it’s bedtime, they will feel OK going into the crate willingly. You will still need to take your pup out every 2-3 hours during the night to go potty.