How To Potty Train A Puppy (Complete House Training Guide)

How to potty train a puppy

You love your puppy and you find that your pup brings joy and comfort to your world, but you don’t know what to do with their potty habits of peeing and pooping everywhere they want.

You want your puppy to complement your lifestyle. You buy them the best puppy toys and you feed them good food, but that’s not enough. You need to improve their life by house training them, however the thought of house training your new puppy is stressing you out. Should you skip this part and let your puppy do what they want?

Heck no! Don’t let your dog make your home smell like a toilet, because if you let them, they will make sure it does.

Don’t fret. House training your dog may sound hard at the beginning, but it’s not really that difficult. It can be done with a few steps.

In this post we will give you all the information you need to get your puppy potty trained in no time.

RELATED: Choosing The Best Dog Toys & Safe Dog Chew Toys (10 Rules).

Preparation before you start potty training a puppy

Potty training a puppyHouse training your puppy is really all about discipline, following a schedule, and dedicating some of your precious time to the wellness of your puppy.

Whether you have arthritis and got the puppy as a gift (it was on top of our list of many other potential gift ideas for people with arthritis because of its healing powers), or received your puppy as a present to alleviate some stress, you will still need to exude some effort and commitment to get up in the morning, move about, and take your dog to potty. Your four-legged friend will silently thank you for bringing order and joy to their life.

Yes. We are talking about a commitment on your part.

If housetraining is not done correctly, your puppy may learn bad puppy potty training habits of peeing and pooping anywhere they want.

Commit to not punishing your puppy during training mistakes. Potty training puppies should not include punishment for accidents. You should never punish your new puppy for not being able to hold their bladder during the training phase.

Little puppies are like babies. They cannot hold their bladder for long and they must be trained to do so. Therefore, make sure you are patient with your puppy and with the process.

The dog doesn’t know the objective until you make it clear. If you punish them for mistakes, they may start resenting you because they don’t understand why they’re being punished.

Success depends on you. In order for puppy training to be successful you must be prepared and ready for any situation that comes. You must also be willing to commit to the task and to not give up on your puppy.

The goal of house training your puppy is to have a sense of order and to minimize accidents.

Preparation. If you want to learn how to housetrain a puppy the right way, you have to be prepared ahead of time.

Preparation starts by coming up with a schedule of puppy sleeping, eating, and eliminating foods and liquids. It would make it easier for your new puppy if you establish these new rules early on. See the proposed schedule of how often you should take your puppy out in one of the sections below.

Having a structure in your dog’s life will make your dog’s training much easier as they will comfortably adjust to their new habits.

READ MORE: Dog Safety 101: Tag, Chip, Puppy Collar and Leash & Harness.

Potty training puppy options: Crate training vs. paper, pad, or puppy potty

In a previous post, we discussed in details how to humanely crate train your puppy in order to avoid accidents and to provide structure to your pooch.

We stated that the crate should not be used as a toilet for many reasons.

To revisit these reasons, you have to think logically… If your pooch was born in the wild, he or she would want to seek shelter in a cave or in a place that is secure and that resembles a crate.

Option 1: Crate training your puppy

The crate is the puppy’s den and most animals have an instinct to keep their house clean, just like humans do. So, you will not really be doing your puppy much of a service by allowing them to pee and poop in the crate. It is crucial to learn how to train a puppy to pee outside.

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The crate is a foundation tool to help your puppy avoid relieving him or herself in their living space.

Crate training a puppyCrate training takes on a different meaning than keeping your dog inside the crate all the time.

You must be able to take your puppy out of the crate. You should encourage them to do their business outdoors.

Depending on your commitment to help your puppy get potty trained properly, you will start seeing great results after 4 or 5 months.

Whether you have a Lab, a Beagle, a Boxer, or a Shih Tzu Yorkshire Terrier mix, puppies will continue to improve the first year and will eventually be able to hold their bladder almost all night long when absolutely necessary.

Some dog owners put in an access door for their dogs to go in and out of the yard when they need to relieve themselves.

If you absolutely positively must close the crate door on your puppy in order to run a long errand, and want the accident pads inside the crate, then make sure they are placed in a corner away from any food, water, or bedding.

Benefits of crate training a puppy

  • It is the better choice for your pup if you’re committed. Crate training has great benefits and is the better choice if you’re able to take your puppy out frequently.
  • It takes care of your puppy’s mental health. Your puppy’s mental state might prefer this method over any other method of peeing and pooping in the house. By taking them to do their business outside, the probability of your puppy having accidents inside goes down. The chances of your puppy holding their bladder for longer periods of time will improve.
  • Security for your pooch. Your puppy will feel secure inside their crate and will make every attempt to not turn it into a dirty and stinky bathroom. So, crate training should be reserved for placing your puppy inside the crate for periods of times, then taking them out to pee and poop outside as illustrated in another post.

Drawbacks of crate training a puppy

  • You will need to go outside more. This is perhaps more of an inconvenience to the owner of the dog than to the puppy itself. The drawback is going to be the frequency of having to take your puppy out more than you’d like to. This commitment is important in order for the pooch to do its business comfortably.
  • It presents a bit of an inconvenience for your puppy. Your puppy will need to adjust to this new regimen of “holding in” their bladder as they are being trained. It may appear difficult at first, but you want to make sure to allow them to be relieved as frequently as needed.

At the beginning, you may need to take a newborn puppy outside to potty once an hour. As they get to be a few weeks old, it could progress to once every 3 hours or so.

  • Poop placement trick. A great way to entice the puppy to do their business outside is to remove some of the poop from the inside and take it to a corner outside. Whenever the puppy makes new poop inside, remove the old waste from the outside and replace it with new waste to allow the puppy to discover the poop. This will be encourage your dog to go in the same spot on the outside. When they start doing their business, look the other way to give them privacy. Some dogs will not poop if you’re looking at them. Give them treats and verbal encouragement when they do their business outside.

Option 2: Paper, pad, or puppy potty training

House training a puppy in an apartment

Newspapers were used in the past to house train puppies. Nowadays, more dog owners are using potty pads and puppy potty products.

You can place the puppy potty or the absorbent pet training pads in a corner of the apartment, away from food or water. The puppy will go and pee there, and may even poop there.

Benefits of paper, pad, or puppy potty training

  • These tools may be an option for high rises, busy people, and bad weather. It’s not easy to run down 20 floors every time your pooch needs to go pee, or take the train back home during your lunch hour. It is equally very difficult to go outside when there’s a snowstorm. House training a puppy using newspapers, pads, or puppy potty tools is sometimes preferred by dog owners when they live in high rises, in extreme weather, or work far away from home.
  • Puppy potties or potty pads are available everywhere. The puppy potties look like a section of green grass (fake grass) where your dog can pee and sometimes poop on top and relieve themselves when they are unable to be taken outside.
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  • Puppy potties come in different grades. Puppy potties can be luxurious and made of fake grass and mahogany wood, and can run you a few hundred bucks. They can also be simple and can be bought for a few dollars. They will feel and look like real lush grass in the eyes of your dog. They can be cleaned and re-used, and your puppy may not hesitate to use them.
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  • Pads, paper, or puppy potties may be a good option for small dogs. Potty pads, paper, or puppy potty can also work well for people with small dogs.

Drawbacks of paper, pad, or puppy potty training

  • They may create bad habits. Paper training or pad training your pooch inside your home may have worse drawbacks than you can imagine. The bottom line is once you train your dog to do their potty business inside the home on paper or on pad, you will be creating a new set of dog potty training problems for your pooch and for yourself. Your puppy will have no problem peeing and pooping inside the house in the future and will think nothing of it, since they were trained that way.
  • You may have to re-train your dog. If the behavior of your puppy becomes uncontrollable and they start peeing and pooping everywhere inside the home, then you probably want to step back and start your puppy potty training all over again. This time, the goal should be to help your puppy relief themselves outdoors, and you may need to have more commitment than ever before to accomplish this task.

Best way to potty train a puppy

House training a puppyHelp… My puppy keeps peeing on the floor!

This may just be the case at the beginning of the housetraining process for small puppies. This is why you have to watch them like a hawk and take them out almost every hour when they first arrive at the house.

The concept of potty training a puppy is not much different than that of potty training a baby. This is because puppies are like babies… They are unable to control their bladder at a very young age.

(a) Take them out frequently. You will need to take them out very frequently until they are about four or five months old. This is when you may be able to get more relief and not take them out as much.

  • Take them out about once an hour at the beginning. For best practices of potty training dogs, it is crucial that you take your puppy out as many times as possible during the day so that you can eliminate accidents and accelerate the training process. You may need to do this once an hour.
  • You will get a bit of a break during sleep hours. At night puppies get exhausted from playing all day long and they will most likely not need to go out as much. They might be able to sleep anything between 5 to 8 hours uninterrupted and without needing to go outside.
  • Take them out if they get up in the middle of the night. If your puppy gets up in the middle of the night and they need to go, it is your duty and responsibility as a loving puppy owner to take them out and allow them to relief themselves.
  • If you choose to place a pad in the crate. If your choose to crate train them using pads or other tools while you have a long sleep, remember that your puppies are now going to unwillingly need to relief themselves in the crate that they consider their safety den or home. This can play a psychological trick on your puppy’s mind.
  • The goal is to have fewer potty accidents. The fewer accidents that they can make inside your home, whether it is in the crate or on pad, the better it is for your puppy.

(b) Get on board and be dedicated to the cause. Your dedication to your puppy determines whether or not your training will be successful in housebreaking your dog. It will also determine how fast you will be able to train your pooch and hopefully sleep a full night without having to go outside in the middle of the night.

Older dog potty training

  • Age matters. As puppies get older, their muscles develop and they are able to hold their bladder more frequently and for longer periods of time.
  • Less frequent potty needed at night. Because puppies can be very active during the day running around, jumping, playing, napping, eating, and drinking, they’re going to be more prone to needing to relieve themselves throughout the day.

When you undergo a dog potty training task you want to make sure you are 100% invested in their training.

(c) Learn their personality. Each puppy will have its own personality and will require you to be understanding and patient of the rate by which they will be fully trained.

  • They are just like babies. This is exactly how babies get trained as well. Some babies may not need diapers after a few months and others may continue to need diapers until they reach an older age. It would not be wise to start your puppy on dog diapers, although some owners may find the need to use them. Dog diapers are probably a better idea for older dogs that are unable to move as much anymore. Instead, learn your pooch’s triggers and take your puppy outside to potty.
  • The perspective of a baby’s age vs. a puppy’s age. A six month old baby is equivalent to an eight week old puppy. Having that into perspective allows you to be more forgiving and more patient with your pooch.
  • Stick with it. Training your puppy may seem like an endeavor that will last forever, but eventually things will get better. Your dog will be able to hold their bladder all night long.

Potty training schedule: How often and when to take a puppy out

Puppy house training scheduleThe first five months of your puppy’s life are going to be challenging for you. You are that parent who has to get up in the middle of the night to cater to their new four-legged friend. Allow yourself to rest well and to be forgiving with your new pooch.

Sometimes it takes longer to potty train a puppy, and sometimes it takes less.

  • On average it’s around 5 months before good results are shown.
  • Between moths 5-12, your puppy will need less time outside than when they are firstborn but when they do need to go you will need to take them out to poop and pee.

You must be 100% committed to your puppy in order for your training to be completed successfully. The more you do for your puppy early on, the quicker they learn what is expected of them.

Here is a schedule that you probably want to consider. You may want to study this and post it on your fridge.

At the beginning, and at minimum, your puppy needs to be taken out during the following times.

Potty train a puppy pin

  • When they wake up. Take your puppy outside as soon as they wake up in the morning. They may wake up before you, and you owe it to your pooch to be committed to taking them out.
  • Every hour or so throughout the day. At the very beginning, you must be committed to taking your puppy out at least once an hour. This will help eliminate any accidents inside the house. By month 5, you will notice that they can hold their bladder longer and may need to be taken out every 3 hours or so during the day and 5 hours or all night long at night. You will know as time goes by.
  • 30 minutes after they eat. Take your puppy out 30 minutes after they eat food. They may need to poop at this time.
  • 10-15 minutes after they drink water. Wait 10 to 15 minutes after they drink water to take them out to pee.
  • After napping. Do not wait for signs that they need to go. The moment they wake up from the nap, take them outside to relief themselves.
  • Every time you come home. Take them outside every time you arrive home. Their excitement to see you may prompt them to pee!
  • When you open the crate door. Take them outside once you open the crate door. Just like the psychology behind Pavlov’s Dog, they are most likely conditioned to think that it’s time to pee.
  • Before you go to bed. Take your puppy outside before you go to bed. They will learn to expect it and that it’s time to go to sleep.
  • Set up your alarm to take them out during the night. You can use the guidelines below, but study your puppy and make changes as need be.
    • New pups under 2 months old. Get up every 3 hours or so to take them out during the night. If you’re unable to do this, consider other options like potty pads inside the crate, but this is not a favorite choice.
    • Pups around 2 months old. Change the time to take them out every 3-4 hours during the night.
    • Older puppies around 4 to 5 months old or older. With your amazing training and dedication, they should be able to hold their bladder much longer now, and you may need to take them out early in the morning (about 5 hours after you all go to sleep), or not at all during the night.
  • Whenever they show sign that they need to go outside. Pay attention to the cues that your puppy may be displaying. They may get edgy or walk towards the door. Anytime you see that your dog is showing signs of having to go, take them outside.

The frequency of having to go potty will lessen as time goes by. You will see improvement at around months 4 and 5 and then after 1 year.

Potty training tips when you’re outside with your puppy. Did they pee yet?

It is important to be aware of your puppy’s behavior when you go outside with them.

Be present with your dog and make sure that your pooch relieves him or herself. Sometimes puppies may run around sniffing things. They will find a favorite spot that they like to relief themselves in. Your patience is necessary in this task. Don’t rush your puppy.

  • Poop bags. You definitely want to be prepared for when your puppy decides to poop. If you take them outside in the neighborhood, you don’t want to be the annoying neighbor who leaves dog piles of poop all over the walkways. Make sure to bring poop bags along with you and remove your dog’s waste and discard it properly.
  • Positive reinforcement. When your puppy finally poops or pees, make sure to give them positive reinforcement like “good puppy” or “good girl”.
  • Play with them and give them treats as a reward. 
    • You can give them a treat for doing their business on cue. Make sure to add those positive reinforcement phrases like “Good boy”.
    • You should have a play schedule with your puppy,  but if you don’t have time to play with them during the day, an idea is to incorporate play time with them after successfully completing a few of the “going outside to pee” tasks. Spend about 10 minutes or so of quality time with them after they relieve themselves a few times (i.e. before lunch or dinner). Throw them a squeaky toy and ask them to “go get it”, or safely play tug-of-war with their favorite fluffy toy. I find that if you add a bit of playful growling noises along the way, it makes the game more exciting. Grrrrrr… Just be gentle as you pull the toy from their mouths.

RELATED: The 10 Best Puppy Toys (Teething, Chewing, Snuggling & More).

  • Have a sidetracked puppy that doesn’t pee or poop? If your puppy starts getting sidetracked and does not poop or pee when you take them outside, bring them back in their crate for about 10 minutes and then take them outside once again.
    • If the puppy still does not pee or poop and you decide to come back in and not use the crate, you need to drop everything and make sure to watch your puppy very carefully. This is because they may relief themselves inside your house.
    • If they continue to not want to go, then continue to repeat the process of placing them in the crate for 10 minutes and then going outside and trying again for as long as you need to.
  • Bring a water bowl (optional). You may need that if you’re taking them out on long walks. You can always get collapsible bowls to take with you.
  • Be present. It is crucial that you pay attention to your puppy. When you take your puppy outside, watch him or her relieve their bladder, otherwise they may relieve themselves inside your house on your couch, on your floor, or anywhere they possibly can.

It is super important NOT to punish your puppy for training mistakes.

Do not punish your dog for potty training mistakes
Do not punish your dog for potty training mistakes
  • No guilt trips during training. If your puppies mistakenly relieve themselves inside your home, do not yell at them or make them feel bad. Simply pick up where you left off and pay attention to future triggers.

The bottom line on house training your dog

House training a puppy has a lot to do with your commitment and your dedication to your new pooch.

The routine highlighted above is important to follow. You want to repeat it over and over again all day long.

Yes, this process is time consuming and requires a ton of dedication from you, but you will be very happy when it’s over and your puppy transitions to a young dog that is well behaved and well-trained to not pee and poop in the house and to be able to hold their bladder for longer periods of time as needed.

What about you? Do you have any dog potty training stories to share? Comment below and let us know what happened and how you dealt with the situation.

Be well little puppy, and may you get better at being house trained so that you potty in the right place, and so that mommy and daddy don’t have to scoop your poop or clean your pee anymore!

READ MORE: How To Humanely Crate Train A Puppy (Puppy Crate Training Tips).