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How To Potty Train a Puppy?

At A Glance

You can start potty training a puppy between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Potty training success can depend on your dog’s age, environment, diet, and feeding schedule. Puppies can control their bladder and bowel movements depending on their age.

Last Updated on: Jul 08, 2022

Bringing home an adorable new puppy can be pure bliss. Until you realize the havoc it can wreak when it poops and pees at will all over your home. This is why every owner must learn how to potty train a puppy as early as possible.

As a dog owner, you must understand that dogs dislike it when their environment is dirty. They do their best to avoid soiling themselves and their sleeping areas as much as possible. Taking this into consideration will help you successfully train your pup to eliminate in assigned areas.

What’s the easiest way to potty train a puppy? Can you train your pup to eliminate on a pad or paper? We answer these questions and more in this article.

Now, are you ready to potty train your pup? Let’s go!

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puppy in crate

Start With Crate Training

Crate training is an excellent first step to potty training your pup. This will teach your dog to hold its bladder when necessary. Staying in a crate helps potty training by preventing your dog from eliminating in the wrong spots. This is because, by and large, dogs avoid soiling their sleeping areas, and confining them to their crate can reduce accidents.

While you’re supervising your furry friend, you can look for signs that indicate it needs to eliminate. This will help you identify the right moment to take it to its spot because it would often “hold it in” and wait to be released before peeing or pooping.

Crate training also gives owners more opportunities to praise and encourage the practice of eliminating on the right spot. This is extremely useful when you can’t continuously supervise your dog for most of the day. Once you take it out of the crate and take it to the “bathroom,” use this opportunity to praise and reward this good behavior. This is an important routine that will encourage your dog to form healthy potty habits.

Tip: Time the praise or reward accordingly. The best moment is immediately after it’s done with the “deed.”

This will make the association stronger. Praising your dog too early or too late may distract it from actually finishing its action.


Follow a Feeding Schedule

What goes in has to come out. Given this, you should know when and how much your puppy will most likely pee and poop. Once you put your dog on a regular feeding schedule, you can easily time when it needs to go out and relieve itself. Of course, your feeding schedule should depend on your dog’s age.

For puppies with immature digestive systems, breaking their feeding schedule down to two or three times a day will be most beneficial. Being consistent will most likely help them eliminate at predictable times as well. It is also important to note that the quality of food will affect your pup’s bowel movement. Keep this in mind when establishing its diet. Overfeeding may also trigger bouts of diarrhea, affecting your potty training.

The success of potty training your puppy depends on several factors. One, you have to consider its age. A four-month puppy will have significant developmental and learning differences compared to a 10-month old one. Some pups may learn more quickly, regardless of age, particularly those from a good environment before your ownership. Your consistency and persistence also play a critical factor.

Dogs like to obey. It gives them security. –James Herriot

On average, pups can be potty trained within four to six months. Don’t take it as a failure if your puppy takes some time to learn. You just might need to change your strategy to make it happen.

Also Read: How to Set a Feeding Schedule For Dog 

Set a Potty Training Schedule

Effective potty training is possible with a carefully laid out puppy potty training schedule. You can achieve success once your dog follows a routine—it will know precisely when to eat, play, and do its business. When preparing a potty training schedule, it’s important to take into account the length of time a puppy can control its bladder and bowel.

In general, canines need to pee at least three to five times a day. But, the exact timing can vary by age. Puppies can hold their bladders for one hour for every month of their age. So, if you have a four-month-old pup, it can wait for four hours before it needs to pee. Going longer than this before a bathroom break can lead to accidents. If you have an older dog, you should not let it hold it in for more than 10 hours. Doing so can lead to urinary tract infections and other health issues.

Fun Fact: Dogs can trick you into thinking they feel guilty when they have an accident. But they actually don’t feel guilt the same way as humans do. So don’t shame them when they have an accident!

Bring your puppy outdoors more frequently once you begin potty training. You can do so as soon as it wakes up in the morning, during and after playtime, after drinking or eating, and before sleeping. Do not leave water in your puppy’s dish at least two to three hours before its bedtime. This will help reduce the likelihood of the pup needing to pee during the night. Choose your dog’s bathroom “spot” outside and take it there every time it has to go. It will also help to associate a specific word or phrase while it is relieving itself.

Simple phrases like “need to go?” or “time to pee” can be effective trigger words that will quickly remind your dog about what it needs to do.

Do not rush your dog while it is eliminating. Any interruptions while peeing or pooping can distract it from what it needs to do. When your pup is done, set aside some time to walk around or engage it in playtime before bringing it indoors. Observe your puppy closely during this training period to determine if it is picking up on the routine you’re trying to establish.

Also Read: How To Train A Puppy To Pee Outside?

Puppy Pads

Potty Training Challenges

Potty training a puppy comes with various challenges, but most will have a solution, so don’t sweat it. Here are some challenges that you can expect to face, as well as potential solutions that will help you get through them.

Continuous Soiling

If your puppy soils its crate, consider shortening the amount of time it stays there. Choosing the right crate is also critical. Puppies in spacious crates may designate one area for relieving themselves and another spot for sleeping. Adjust your crate size accordingly.

Consistent soiling may also indicate urinary tract issues. Bring your puppy to a veterinarian for a workup if you suspect this. They can diagnose the issue and prescribe medications that will help.

Bored puppies can drink excessively, which can significantly hamper your potty training. Taper this behavior by engaging your dog in physically and mentally stimulating activities every day. If you’re thinking about limiting your dog’s water intake, it’s best not to do so. You don’t want to end up with a dehydrated puppy simply because you want to potty train it.

Poor Crate Training

It can cause your dog to become anxious and feel trapped. It will more likely soil and refuse to stay in its crate because it doesn’t feel comfortable. You can help establish the crate as a good refuge with comfortable blankets and your dog’s favorite toys.

Changing Diet

Experts highly recommend giving puppies high-quality dog food to keep their digestive systems healthy. Avoid giving them table scraps or introducing many different dog food brands at will.

Examining your dog’s stool quality and consistency will give you an idea of its bowel health. If you notice your dog’s stool is different in any way, it may be time to change its diet. Introduce new food gradually by mixing a little bit of it with their current food.

Potty Accidents

Accidents will happen. When they do, don’t reprimand your pup. But do interrupt its actions as soon as it happens. Hustle it to the designated bathroom “spot” to finish.

Remember: interrupt, don’t punish.

Punishing your dog will only affect your growing bond. It may also lead your dog to “hide” its mistakes by eliminating in a hidden corner of the house for fear of being punished or yelled at. For these reasons and more, it’s best to stick to positive reinforcement throughout training.

Make sure to clean up thoroughly after every mess. You need to kill any remaining bacteria and remove any lingering scent. Pups often mark certain areas with their pee. If you don’t adequately clean up where they’ve had an accident, they would most likely pee or poop on the same spot again. Using a powerful cleaner can help remove the smell altogether.

puppy getting treats

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Age to Potty Train a Puppy?

Dog experts recommend potty training to start between 12 and 16 weeks. Pups should have better control of their bladder and bowel movements at this age.

This doesn’t mean that it’s too late to potty train a dog once it is older. While it may take longer for a dog to change its bathroom habits, owners can still introduce new and healthier potty behavior with consistency and persistence.

How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment?

Potty training your puppy in an apartment may be quite challenging, but it is still possible. While you may not have a garden or outdoor area to designate as its bathroom spot, you can create a makeshift area indoors.

Some pet stores now carry indoor dog potties that you can use while potty training your puppy inside your apartment. You can place it on your balcony, where your pup can easily access it when it needs to go. The same training principles apply. You still need to maintain a feeding schedule and keep an eye on what your pup eats and drinks. Take it to the indoor potty when it needs to go.

After peeing or pooping, praise your dog or give it treats. Soon enough, your dog will learn exactly where it needs to go without prompting.

How to Potty Train a Puppy on Pads?

Using a pad to potty train is best when you have a very young puppy that needs frequent trips to relieve itself. It’s also easier for you as a dog owner because you can easily toss the pads out and replace them when soiled. It’s a temporary solution when you can’t bring your dog outside or your living condition doesn’t allow you to go on walks more often.

Experts say that using pads may cause confusion for dogs. This is because, ideally, dogs should learn that they can relieve themselves only when they are outdoors and not inside the house. Using pads may make it more difficult for them to make the needed associations.

If you plan to use puppy pads, it’s best to set them on the same spot each time.

It will help reinforce the area as your dog’s bathroom. Choose an unscented pad so it won’t be confused with the smell.

How to Know If a Puppy Needs to Go?

When potty training your puppy, even the strictest schedule is not enough to avoid all accidents. Keep an eye out for signs that may indicate your dog needs to relieve itself. Watch out for sniffing, wandering, whining, and circling.

Some dogs may even go near the door to tell you they need to go outside. Once you notice these signals, let your dog go outdoors to prevent an accident. Remember, forcing your dog to hold its bladder or bowel for too long can lead to behavioral and health issues.

puppy giving paw

Potty training helps reinforce positive behavior in dogs. Starting at a young age can help them learn more quickly, but success also depends on how much time and effort you can dedicate to training.

Using a crate, setting a potty and feeding schedule, and identifying potential problems can make training a breeze. Now that you know how to potty train a puppy, you should be able to move past your furry friend’s messy behavior with ease.

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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.