Potty Training Techniques for Puppies

If you're about to add a four-legged friend to your household, it's a good idea to research potty training techniques for puppies before the day you bring home your new pet.

When Should Potty Training Begin?

If your new puppy is old enough to leave it's canine mother and come home with you, he or she is old enough to begin potty training. It's much easier to housebreak a dog that hasn't already started to develop bad habits than it is to a reverse problem behavior in progress.

What to Expect

It's important to approach puppy potty training with realistic expectations. House training a puppy takes time, and both you and your dog are likely to make some mistakes along the way. You can't bring home a new puppy and expect her to immediately understand that she can only go to the bathroom outdoors.

Your puppy isn't the only one who is going to undergo an education during the potty training process. You must also learn to recognize the signs that your puppy needs to be taken outside. If you're not home when your pet needs to go, or you don't realize that it's time to let her outside, an accident is bound to occur.

When you undertake house training a puppy, you need to realize that accidents are going to happen. Be prepared to clean up the inevitable piles and puddles, and keep your temper in check when your puppy messes up. It's also important to understand that animals don't all learn at the same pace. Don't get aggravated with your new puppy if he or she doesn't seem to catch on to your instructions as quickly as other pets did in the past.

Beginning Potty Training Techniques for Puppies

To begin potty training your new puppy, you'll need to be diligent about taking your dog outside on a regular basis. Puppies have to relieve themselves frequently, and they won't realize they need to let you know they need to go out until having you accompanying them on bathroom breaks becomes a habit.

Very young pups usually need to relieve themselves as often as once an hour. Most puppies will need to go to the bathroom 15-20 minutes after eating or drinking. Once you get used to your canine's bathroom habits, it will become fairly easy to time potty break outings.

The first step in figuring out your pet's natural cycle is to watch for signs that she needs to go to the bathroom. The moment you notice the animal acting like it's time for a potty break, immediately go outside with your pet.

Signs That It's Time

  • Restless behavior
  • Heading toward a previously soiled spot
  • Circling and sniffing the floor
  • Digging at the floor

What to Do When You're Outside

When you take your puppy outside for a potty break, don't confuse the issue with other activities. Once she is trained, you may want to combine walks with bathroom time. However, when training a very young puppy, make sure the focus of the experience is going to the bathroom. It's a good idea to pick a specific area of the yard for bathroom breaks. This location should be somewhat separate from where your dog spends time playing. Begin praising your dog as soon as she starts going with the bathroom, and stay with her until the deed is done. It's even a good idea to reward the animal with a small treat once the potty session is complete.

Alternative Potty Training Techniques for Puppies

In an ideal world, the best thing to do is stay with your puppy at all times during the potty training process. However, due to jobs, family, and other responsibilities, it isn't feasible for most people to provide their pets with around the clock potty patrol.

The next best thing you can do is confine your pup to a crate when you can't be with him or her for an extended period of time. There are many benefits to crate training your puppy, and decreased problems with soiled floors can be one of the biggest advantages.

Keep in mind, however, that you can't expect a young puppy to stay in a crate for hours at a time. Young animals don't have a sufficient level of bladder control to be left for several hours at a stretch. Make sure that someone can let your puppy out for a potty break at least every two hours or so.

What to Do When Accidents Happen

When house breaking a dog, positive reinforcement of desired behavior works far more effectively than punishment for undesired behavior. Dog trainers agree that yelling, hitting, or rubbing the puppy's nose in the mess are counterproductive behaviors that must be avoided.

As a new dog owner, you have to realize that accidents are going to happen, and you need to be prepared to clean them up right away. When you catch your dog having an accident inside, you can say "no" in a firm voice and immediately place him or her in the proper potty area. However, if you don't actually catch the dog in the act of going to the bathroom, there is no benefit to this type of discipline.

Some trainers feel that the best course of action for puppy potty accidents is to completely ignore them. The idea is that puppies crave attention, and giving the animal attention following an undesired behavior may inadvertently provide reinforcement, leading to future intentional messes as a means of getting attention.


Begin working with your puppy on proper bathroom behavior as soon as she joins your family, and you'll be able to establish a firm foundation for good behavior that will last a lifetime.

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Potty Training Techniques for Puppies