If you’ve had enough of cleaning the carpets every single day, then it’s time for you to learn how to potty train a puppy. And you’re in the right place for that.

Whether outside or at home, potty training will teach your doggy to go to the toilet only in designated places. It’s also an excellent way for your puppy to learn to respect its home and your commands.

Here’s everything we’ll cover:

How Old Should a Puppy Be to Potty Train It?

You can start the training after your puppy has reached 12–16 weeks. Before that period, dogs have trouble controlling their bladders, so it’s hard to teach them. 

If your pup’s less than three months old, you can only take them outside or to a designated place at home every 30 minutes to an hour. That’s how to decrease the chances of your furball making an accident.

Puppy Potty Training Essentials

Before you start your pooch’s potty training journey, you need to prepare. 

Here are some of the essential supplies for a new puppy’s potty training that will make your and your buddy’s lives easier in the following months.

  • Dog training pads for at-home potty training
  • Cleaning detergent for accidents
  • Poo bags for collecting the waste outside
  • A crate and/or play den (if you wish to crate train your puppy)
  • Patience — potty training can be a long and bumpy road. 

How to Potty Train a New Puppy

Before taking your future best friend home for the first time, it’s important to set up the environment. Remove any cables, shoes, papers, and other possibly harmful objects from your puppy’s reach. Then, decide on a specific place for your puppy to pee and poo, and pad the floor.

Potty training a small puppy is impossible, but at least you can try to show it where its toilet is. Take your pet to the padded place every hour to prevent accidents.

A sign for people not to let their dogs toilet on the beach.

How to Potty Train a Puppy Indoors

Potty training at home can be challenging, especially with small puppies where you have to stay on watch constantly.

But it’s far from impossible — you just have to arm yourself with patience.

Determine a Set Potty Area

One of the most useful tips for potty training a puppy is to start by deciding where you want your dog to do its business. Find a small and secluded area of your apartment — the less distraction available, the higher the chance of your pooch using it for its business.

Don’t move the potty from room to room, or it’ll be more challenging for your puppy to build a habit.

Dogs don’t like toileting on hard surfaces. That’s why if you don’t potty train your puppy, it’ll most likely pee on the carpet. So it’s best to line the floor with puppy pads or paper towels. They’ll soften the floor and absorb the pee.  

How to Potty Train a Puppy on Pads

Right after you come home with your doggy, take it to the potty place to let it know that’s where it should do the job. You can do that by giving a “Go potty” cue. Your doggy won’t get it right away, but you should keep doing it hourly.

Every time your pup eliminates at the right spot, reward it with praise and a treat. Slowly but surely, your pooch will learn to associate the pads with its toilet needs. Using the “Go potty” cue, you’ll also train it to do it on command when outside. 

Paper Training

Paper training is arguably the most effective way to potty train a puppy. It’s easy and also reduces the chances of your puppy eliminating on the carpet to zero.

First, start by enclosing a small area with a doggy gate or playpen. The place should be big enough for your puppy’s bed, food, and water bowls, plus some free space where it can play and do its business. 

Then, line the entire floor with paper or puppy pads. In the beginning, your pet will go to the toilet everywhere, so be sure to change the papers regularly.

After a few days, remove the pads closest to your pup’s bed and bowls. Paper training is considered the best way to potty train a puppy because it focuses on the dog’s instincts to never pee in their dens or near their food.

Some days later, remove a few more pads. Make sure to remove the ones closest to your puppy’s den first. Don’t forget to praise your champ every time it pees in the right place.

Keep on removing the papers until only the furthest one is left. By then, your puppy will have already learned to associate the papers with toileting.

How to Potty Train a Puppy to Go Outside

It’s every puppy owner’s dream to finally teach their dog to potty outside — no more dirty pads, no more carpet accidents. Compared to a smelly house, picking up poo with a plastic bag feels like a gift.

When your puppy is old enough to hold its bladder, you can begin potty training outside. It should be around three to four months old.

Here are the steps to potty training a puppy outside.

Establish a Routine

If you’ve ever had a dog, you know how excited they get right before it’s time for their walks. Dogs know when they’ll be going out soon. Just like human babies, puppies form habits quickly.

Establishing and following a potty routine strictly is essential for your doggy to build the habit of not messing at home. Keep in mind that habit formation takes at least a month, so be patient.

Supervise Your Puppy

The best way to potty train a puppy is by learning its language. When doggies are about to eliminate, they usually start circling nervously, whining, scratching the door, or even barking. They would start sniffing around for the best place to pee.

That’s when you should take them out. Even if your pup went to the toilet 30 minutes ago, don’t take a risk. Small puppies need frequent potty breaks as their bladders are tiny and fill up quickly.

For an older puppy, you can consider getting a smart dog door to let it go out on its own whenever it needs a toilet break.

Take Your Puppy to a Distraction-Free Spot

You should do puppy potty training calmly and purposefully.

It’s important to choose wisely the place where you’ll take your puppy to the toilet. If it’s near a busy road or in a park full of other dogs, your pet will get distracted and might forget to do its business.

You shouldn’t play with your doggy or let it sniff around and socialize with other dogs. The sole purpose of the trip should be to pee and go back home. That’s how your puppy will start associating the urge to eliminate with going out.

Teach Your Puppy a Potty Cue

An easy way to potty train a puppy is by teaching it a “Go potty” cue. To achieve this, follow these simple steps:

  • Whenever your puppy starts preparing to do its business, tell it to “Go potty”.
  • When it finishes, praise your dog and reward it with a treat.
  • Take your pup to the same spot every time and encourage it with the “Go potty” cute to increase the association between the place and toileting. 

How to Potty Train a Puppy With Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective behavior modification technique. It uses rewards to stimulate “good” behavior instead of punishing “bad” one.

In the case of potty training, you should always praise and reward your puppy when it goes to the toilet outside. It’s the opposite of punishing your pup if it has an accident at home.

dog in a crate

How to Potty Train a Puppy With a Crate

The benefits of crate training a puppy are numerous — from teaching independence to providing a haven for your doggy when it feels overwhelmed.

Dogs don’t like soiling their dens. So they’ll try to avoid peeing in their crates as much as possible. But if you don’t take them out often enough, you’ll leave them no choice.

Keep an eye on your puppy. When it becomes restless or starts whining, ask, “Do you want to potty?” If your pup gets excited, take it out immediately. Remember to praise and reward it after.

If you’re crate training, don’t leave your puppy inside for more than two hours at a time. Holding its bladder for too long might result in urinary infections.

How Long Can a Puppy Hold its Pee Depending On Its Age

Puppies younger than 12 weeks should be taken out to pee every hour to avoid incidents. If it’s three months or older, you can leave it inside a crate for their age in months. So if your puppy is four months old, it should be out to pee every four hours.

Example of a Puppy Potty Training Schedule

This potty training schedule focuses on the most critical times when your puppy might need a toilet break. But these aren’t fixed. Your pup might need more frequent breaks one day and less on the next.

  • First thing in the morning
  • Right before bedtime
  • Immediately after crating
  • Upon waking up from an afternoon nap
  • 30 minutes after a meal
  • Every two hours at night

Use this schedule as a guide for your own investigation. Every puppy’s needs are different so find what works best for your unique case.

How to Potty Train a Puppy at Night

Night potty training can be a real struggle since young puppies aren’t good at holding their bladders. So be prepared to wake up every two hours to take your dog out.

Get your puppy from the crate without unnecessary excitement. Put on a leash and take it out. Tell your furball to “go potty” and praise it afterward.

Don’t play with your puppy, or excitement will interfere with their sleep schedule, and yours, too.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy Using a Crate?

House training is different for every puppy. Some might get it faster than others.

My Golden Retriever started eliminating exclusively outside from the first time he smelled the grass in front. In contrast, a friend of mine had a puppy who needed six months to learn where she’s allowed to pee.

It all depends on your dedication and the puppy’s character, but generally, four to six months should be enough to form a solid no-incidents-habit.  

How to Potty Train a Puppy in the Winter

Some puppies love the snow, others not so much. And we can all agree that waking up at 6 AM on a chilly winter morning to take your puppy out to the toilet can be unpleasant. 

It would be much easier to go back to the puppy pads. But you shouldn’t.

If you do that, you might lose all the progress you’ve made. Your confused puppy will start toileting at home again. Is it worth the trouble?

Put on your warm gloves, dress up your puppy in a warm doggy sweater and head out. The most significant help here will be the “Go potty” cue, which will make your puppy do its business faster. As usual, reward it after and head home. Young doggies shouldn’t stay at low temperatures too long.

Tips For Potty Training a Puppy

  • Don’t allow potty incidents at home. When your puppy finishes its business outside, don’t take it in right away. Small puppies need time to learn how to fully empty their bladders and might have to go again a few minutes later. Give them an extra 10–15 minutes just in case.
  • Limit your puppy’s access to your home by investing in baby gates and putting them in a puppy-proof place. This way, your dog won’t dirty your house before it’s been properly potty trained. Plus, you could keep an eye on it all the time.
  • Clearly distinguish between potty breaks and playtime. If you’re taking your doggie out to potty, don’t play with it. Praise it when it’s ready, wait a few more minutes, and then go back home.

How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment

Potty training in an apartment is almost the same as in a house. There’s only one huge difference — the elevator.

Don’t allow your puppy to pee inside the elevator. You can either hold it up or be proactive with the toilet breaks. 

How to Potty Train a Puppy While Traveling

If you have to travel, potty training your puppy can be problematic. New places often make dogs anxious and might ruin their routines. But these useful tricks will help you and your pup enjoy an accident-free vacation:

  • Stick to your previous schedule. If you’re traveling by car, make frequent toilet stops to ensure your doggie’s peace.
  • Consider buying a portable puppy toilet. It’s a must, especially if you’re staying in a hotel or Airbnb. Bear in mind it might take your puppy some time to get used to it, so better start the training several days to a week earlier. PetMaker’s portable training toilet is a perfect choice. It’s made up of three layers, and the pee drains into the lowest one, leaving the upper one dry and comfortable for your puppy. It’s also easy to clean and keeps the smell to a minimum.
  • Puppy training diapers can be helpful to have at hand. But supervise your pet when it’s wearing them since pups love chewing things. One excellent option is the PetParents washable puppy diapers. They’re available in many sizes and are also more eco-friendly than regular disposable diapers. What’s more, these training pants are comfortable and highly absorbent.
Tiny puppy playing with a toy flamingo.

How to Potty Train a Puppy While Working Full Time

If you worked from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, you’re lucky. Also, it’s always a good idea to inform your boss when you’re taking care of a puppy, so they know why you’re away every two hours.

But if you just got a new puppy and still have to go to the office every day, hiring a puppy sitter is your best bet. Alternatively, ask a friend or neighbor to visit Biscuit several times a day.

Be sure to inform the sitter about your puppy’s potty schedule and ask them to follow it as closely as possible.

What Not to Do When Potty Training a Puppy

Puppy potty training is a challenging task. But no matter how hard it gets, there are a few things you shouldn’t do.

First of all, never punish your doggy if it has an accident. Don’t shout at it, and don’t rub its nose in the pee. That will only delay the training as your doggy will become frightened of going to the toilet.

Secondly, don’t use potty pads with crate training. Lining your puppy’s crate with them will make your pet want to eliminate inside. 

The most effective way to potty train a puppy is by strictly following a schedule. Not doing that will delay the training and confuse your pup.

Common Potty Training Problems (And Their Solutions)

Even if you’re doing everything right, your puppy will still have accidents from time to time. After all, you can’t watch it closely 24/7. So, what do you do if an incident happens?

Potty Accidents

Immediately take your puppy out. Puppies don’t have bladder control, which is why they usually need to urinate several times until they’re thoroughly relieved. So there’s a high chance your puppy isn’t done yet.

An easy way to potty train a puppy is by carefully controlling its diet, adding high fiber foods to your pet’s diet, as well as taking it out around 30 minutes after a meal will work wonders.

Repetitive Accidents in the Same Place

If your doggie is repeatedly eliminating in the same place on your favorite carpet, then you have a problem. You probably didn’t clean it well enough last time, and some puppy odor is still present.

Buy a high-quality household cleaner, and make sure you scrub the spot thoroughly. Puppies go to the toilet where they can smell someone else peed or pooed before them. So cleaners containing enzymes are a good option. They’ll remove the smell even for your doggy’s highly sensitive nose.

How to Potty Train a Small Breed Puppy

Small dog breeds have tinier bladders. If your pocket furball frequently surprises you with potty accidents, consider editing your potty training schedule.

Add more frequent toilet breaks, and make sure you supervise your pup closely for signs that it needs to eliminate. When you learn how your dog behaves before an accident, you can optimize the schedule for your particular case.

What Are the Hardest Dog Breeds to Potty Train?

Every furry baby parent asks themselves how to potty train a puppy. Interestingly, not all doggies are the same. Some breeds are famous for giving their owners a hard time by disregarding toilet etiquette. These include:

  • Bichon Frise
  • American Foxhound
  • Afghan Hound
  • Pug

Conclusion

Even though it’s a challenging task, training your pup to go to the toilet outside is an essential step in raising a responsible and well-behaved dog.

If you want to know how to potty train a puppy fast, you should start by creating a solid potty routine

First, observe your pet’s behavior closely for any clues that it needs to pee, and take the pup out every one or two hours to prevent accidents. Also, make sure you teach it the “Go potty” cue to ease your future walks.

Remember always to practice positive reinforcement and reward your doggy’s potty success.  Learning how to potty train a puppy might seem challenging now, but it’s a win-win in the long run. Don’t give up, be patient, and good luck!

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Miglena loves spending time with friends and talking about science over a glass of wine. Born and raised in a small town, she’s always been surrounded by animals. Cats, dogs, chickens, cows, and goats have all been her companions from an early age. Her passion for the animal kingdom became even stronger after she went to study microbiology in Scotland. Miglena’s love for writing, combined with her curiosity, makes her a valuable member of the pawsome advice team.