How to house train a puppy

How to house train a puppy

House training your dog or puppy requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency. Accidents are part of the process, but if you follow these basic house training guidelines, you can get the newest member of your family on the right track.

To potty train your puppy, establish a routine

Puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Typically, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is 2 months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re likely to have an accident.

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies may need to be fed two or three times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that they’ll eliminate at consistent times as well, making house training easier for both of you.

Pick up your puppy’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they’ll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, don’t make a big deal of it; otherwise, they will think it is time to play and won’t want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk to or play with your puppy, take them out to the spot where they relieve themselves and then return them to bed.

House training your puppy is about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. The goal is to instill good habits and build a loving bond with your pet.

It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy’s previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.

And while you’re training, don’t worry if there are setbacks. As long as you continue a management program that includes taking your puppy out at the first sign they need to go and offering them rewards, they’ll learn.

When to Begin House Training Puppy

Experts recommend that you begin house training your puppy when they are between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. At that point, they have enough control of their bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it.

If your puppy is older than 12 weeks when you bring them home and have been eliminating in a cage (and possibly eating their waste), house training may take longer. You will have to reshape the dog’s behavior — with encouragement and reward.

Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy

Experts recommend confining the puppy to a defined space, whether that means in a crate, in a room, or on a leash. As your puppy learns that they need to go outside to do their business, you can gradually give them more freedom to roam about the house.

When you start to house train, follow these steps:

  • Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away their food between meals.
  • Take the puppy out to eliminate first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. Also, always take them outside after meals or when they wake from a nap. Make sure they goe out last thing at night and before they are left alone.
  • Take the puppy to the same spot each time to do their business. Their scent will prompt them to go.
  • Stay with them outside, at least until they are house trained.
  • When your puppy eliminates outside, praise them or give a treat. A walk around the neighborhood is a nice reward.

Using a Crate to House Train Puppy

A crate can be a good idea for house training your puppy, at least in the short term. It will allow you to keep an eye on them for signs they need to go and teach them to hold it until you open the crate and let them outside.

Here are a few guidelines for using a crate:

  • Make sure it is large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not big enough for them to use a corner as a bathroom.
  • If you are using the crate for more than two hours at a time, make sure the puppy has fresh water, preferably in a dispenser you can attach to the crate.
  • If you can’t be home during the house training period, make sure somebody else gives them a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months.
  • Don’t use a crate if your puppy is eliminating in it. Eliminating in the crate could have several meanings: they may have brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store where they lived before; they may not be getting outside enough; the crate may be too big; or they may be too young to hold it in.

Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Eliminate

Whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or, if your puppy is unconfined, barking or scratching at the door, are all signs they need to go. Take them out right away.

House Training Setbacks

Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old. The reasons for accidents range from incomplete house training to a change in the puppy’s environment.

When your puppy does have an accident, keep on training. Then if it still doesn’t seem to be working, consult a veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.

Do’s and Don’ts in Potty Training Your Puppy

Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind while housetraining your puppy:

  • Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you.
  • If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so they know they have done something unacceptable. Then take them outside by calling them or taking them gently by the collar. When they are finished, praise them or give them a small treat.
  • If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing their nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident.
  • Staying outside longer with your puppy may help to curb accidents. They may need the extra time to explore.
  • Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot.

Show Sources

The Merck Veterinary Manual: “Behavioral Problems Associated with Canine Elimination.”

Toilet training is an important part of dog ownership, and whether you’re getting a puppy or an adult dog, you need to know how to house train them properly. Puppies need to learn basic control, and training is an important bonding experience for you both.

On this page, we’ll take you through how to toilet train your puppy. If you’re toilet training an adult dog that hasn’t been trained properly before, the stages will be the same, but it may take longer.

How to toilet train your dog

When you begin toilet training, you need to give your dog plenty of opportunities to go. The main times are when they wake up, after every meal, before bed and after they’ve been left alone. These are signs that your dog will show when they need to go to the toilet:

  • Fidgeting
  • Sniffing around
  • Beginning to circle before squatting

When you recognise the signs that your dog is thinking about toileting:

  • Take them to the correct place so that you can reward them when they go. Try to take them to the same place each time.
  • Use a command they can associate with the correct behaviour, such as ‘be quick’, when they begin to toilet.
  • When they’ve finished, reward them immediately with lots of praise, a treat or play.
  • Walk your dog around or play for a bit before going back inside. This way, they don’t learn that going to the toilet ends time outside, which could mean they hold on until the last minute before going.
  • If you notice your dog about to go in the wrong place, interrupt them, but in a way that doesn’t punish them. Take them calmly towards the correct place and give them lots of praise when they toilet there. Don’t shout, as your dog may learn that it’s only safe to go when you’re not around.

What to do if there’s an accident

Never punish your dog if you find an accident after the event or as it’s happening. Your dog may become scared and confused, as they won’t associate the punishment with the accident.

How to house train a puppySimply clean the area using a warm solution of biological washing powder and rinse with water. This should remove the smell and reduce the chance of your dog using this area again. Continue taking your dog outside and reward them with lots of praise when they go, and eventually, they’ll ask to go outside to the toilet.

There are different reasons for toileting indoors, such as anxiety, so if you’re concerned, ask your vet.

Toilet trained dogs who wee and poo when left alone

If your dog is going for a wee or poo indoors when separated from you, they could be finding it difficult to cope when left alone. This type of separation-related behaviour is very common, and we’ve put together some tips to help you work out what your dog is feeling when left alone and what to do about it.

Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult dog, the key to toilet training is to form good habits as soon as possible.

Accidents are natural as they settle, so you’ll need to be patient and give them time to adjust. Some dogs will settle quickly into a routine, while others may need more time and support. If the accidents continue or you’re concerned for any reason, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your vet who will be able to rule out any medical issues.

Here are our tips to help toilet train your new puppy or dog. You can follow along with the steps using this video, and they are also written out below.

View the audio transcript for this video

Step 1 – Look out for the signs they need the toilet

While it will probably be quite obvious when your dog has had an accident, you can also look out for the tell-tale signs and redirect them before it happens. If you notice your dog doing any of the following, quickly but calmly get their attention and take them outdoors.

  • Pacing, panting, circling, whining, barking or general restlessness.
  • Sniffing the ground, lowered body posture, curving to the ground/squatting.
  • Going to the door.

Some of these signs might be more obvious than others, so try not to worry if you don’t catch them every time. If they do have an accident, stay calm, and clean the area. We would recommend either an enzymatic cleaner, following all the instructions, or a dilution of 1:9 biological washing powder to warm water. We wouldn’t recommend household disinfectants as they contain ammonia and the smell may encourage your dog to go to the toilet in the same area again.

Remember, you should never punish your dog for accidents. This could stress them out, and they may become fearful of you or even scared of going to the toilet and become secretive about it instead.

Step 2 – Figure out where is best for them to go

Knowing the kind of surface your dog prefers to go to the toilet on will really help with house training. You should be able to find this out from the rescue centre or breeder you got your new pet from. Some examples of different surfaces, also known as substrates, include:

  • Paper
  • Cement
  • Gravel
  • Puppy pads
  • Towels
  • Carpet
  • Different lengths of grass

Some dogs or puppies may be used to going on the floor, or their bedding, so it can be a good idea to take up any rugs or block access to carpeted areas if possible, just while they’re learning. Equally, some dogs may only go to the toilet on walks, so make sure to give your dog frequent toilet breaks outside for the first few weeks as you both adjust to the new routine.

Step 3 – Establish a Routine

Consistency is key when settling in a new dog and establishing good habits. A clear routine will help your dog grow in confidence and feel more secure, which will make them less anxious and therefore less likely to go to the toilet in the wrong place. While your dog is building up their bladder control, we would recommend taking your dog out around the following times:

  • When they wake up – first thing in the morning and after any naps during the day.
  • After eating and after drinking.
  • After a period of activity – e.g. after playtime or zooming around.
  • Before bedtime – try to make their last trip outside as late as you can.

As well as this, it’s a good idea to give your new dog plenty of opportunities to go outside during the day to maximise the chances of them going to the toilet in the right place. If your dog is a puppy, they will need significantly more toilet breaks throughout the day than an adult dog. We would advise taking them out roughly every hour to make sure you give them the opportunity to go to the toilet in the right place.

Step 4 – Making the Routine stick

To begin with, your dog might not immediately associate being in the garden with going to the toilet. If they don’t go straight away, it’s a good idea to sit down, make yourself completely uninteresting, and ignore them for a bit. Your dog will likely get bored and start sniffing around, which will increase the chances of them going to the toilet. If they haven’t done anything after 10-15 minutes, take them back inside and keep an eye out for any signs so that you can take them out again if needed.

When they do go to the toilet outside, in the right place, you should give them some gentle praise and a little fuss (if that’s what they like) We wouldn’t recommend using treats, as some dogs may take this as a sign that going to the toilet anywhere will result in a tasty reward!

If your dog responds particularly well to verbal cues you could also try introducing a phrase like “wee wees” and say it every time they go to the toilet in the right place. Eventually your dog will associate that phrase with going to the toilet, which should help speed up the process.

Remember, if your dog does have an accident inside, stay calm and don’t punish them. Toilet training your puppy or dog is a time of trial and error, but by putting in the time and effort, you should be helping them to form the correct habits. If you’re worried, or the accidents continue, we would recommend that you get in touch with your vet who will be able to help.

Download this guidance as a handy advice sheet and use it to train regularly:

Unless your puppy has been raised in dirty conditions, house training should be relatively easy, particularly if you stick to a good routine. Dogs naturally want to toilet away from their living area and if your puppy was raised at a Blue Cross centre, the team there will have already started this process giving you a good head start.

How to toilet train your puppy

Start a toilet training routine

When you first wake up, last thing at night and very regularly during the day, take your puppy outside to a place in your garden that you have chosen. If you use newspaper or puppy pads overnight, pop some of the soiled paper in this area as the smell will help your puppy to know where to go to the toilet. Let your puppy walk up and down or run about and sniff the area (both exercise and sniffing help stimulate going to the loo). It’s best to let your puppy out in the garden without a lead on as it will be too restrictive, however if your puppy needs to be on lead for whatever reason, an extendable lead is a good solution as this will give them the freedom they need to toilet.

Avoid playing exciting games in the garden before your puppy has toileted, as this is likely to distract them from the main purpose of going outside. If they want to come back inside straight away, or look confused, patiently walk up and down slowly to encourage them to move about and sniff the ground. Stay outside with your puppy until they have done their business at which point you can give gentle praise. Avoid leaving your puppy outside in the hope that they will eventually go to the toilet, as most puppies will not want to be left alone and will instead concentrate on getting back to you, rather than learning to go to the toilet outside. You might also miss the opportunity to praise your puppy if they do go, or if they don’t go, they may then be ‘caught short’ once back in the house!

If they still haven’t gone to the toilet after five minutes, come back inside the house, but keep a very close eye on them. Repeat this process 10 minutes later (and 10 minutes after that if they still haven’t gone) and hopefully your puppy will eventually toilet in the right place. Set aside lots of time for this and be prepared for several visits to the garden at first. Be patient and your persistence will eventually pay off!

Between trips to the garden, supervise your puppy when in the house. This means keeping your puppy in view at all times and being aware of what they are doing – this is especially important during the first few months. Pay particular attention to the times after your puppy has eaten, woken up or after periods of excitement, such as play.

Signs your puppy needs the loo!

Watch for the typical signs that your puppy needs to go to the toilet – these may include sniffing the floor, circling, looking restless or going into a room they have previously toileted in. Take your puppy immediately to your chosen place in the garden and wait patiently until they have done their business and praise gently.

What to do if your puppy has an accident

Expect your puppy to have several accidents during the first few months of house training. They have very small bladders, and just like young children who are learning to use a potty, they are easily distracted, especially when excited!

It’s important not to punish your puppy if they toilet in the house – this is counterproductive and won’t help them. It will only frighten them and may teach them to avoid toileting in front of you. You may have heard that it is a good idea to rub your puppy’s nose in any mess or take them over to the scene of the crime and tell them off – unfortunately training methods like this are extremely damaging and confusing to a puppy so best avoided entirely!

If your puppy does have an accident when you’re not looking, just clean it up calmly. If you catch your puppy in the middle of going, quietly pick them up and pop them outside to see if they can finish what they started in the right place – if they do, then praise them gently. If they don’t, just be extra vigilant in the house next time.

How to clean after your puppy

It’s important to clean any mess in the house using a warm solution of biological washing powder (for example, a teaspoon of powder dissolved in a cup of warm water) or a specially formulated product from your vet. This type of product will clean the area properly. Avoid using ammonia based products such as bleach as this is likely to cause your puppy to use the same area again.

How to house train a puppy

Toilet training when your puppy is by themselves

Toilet training when you are out of the house

During the initial stages of house training it’s best not to leave your puppy alone – ideally you should wait until house training is well established. If you do have to go out, then leave them in the area that they are most comfortable (see Home alone) making sure your puppy has had the chance to exercise and go to the toilet beforehand. Leave out some paper for your puppy to toilet on (away from their bed area) should they need to go – although this won’t teach your puppy where you would like them to go to the toilet, it will make any mess easier to clean up and stops the area becoming soiled.

Toilet training a puppy at night

Most puppies don’t have strong enough bladders to be able to hold on overnight for several months, so unless you have your puppy upstairs with you, expect to come downstairs to a bit of mess. Lay down newspaper away from their bed area until your puppy can hold on for longer. Remember to take them out first thing to give them an opportunity to relieve themselves as soon as possible.

How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

You’ll need to continue with this routine for several months, although some puppies may need extra time and help. During this process, your puppy learns about getting praise for going to the toilet outside and, since you’ll be supervising them in the house, they won’t get an opportunity to go inside. Throughout the first few months and for a while afterwards, continue to go out with your puppy to the garden in order to praise them until they know exactly what to do.

After a few months of the above routine, and as your puppy gets older – gradually increase the time between visits to the garden. When your puppy has the urge to go, they will probably become more active or may wander over to the door. Watch for a change in their behaviour and take them out quickly. Gradually, as you start to recognise the signs that mean your puppy needs to go, you can relax your supervision in the house. Some puppies may need reminding regularly, so make sure you give them plenty of opportunity to relieve themselves outside.

Keep at it!

Although house training a puppy can be hard work and tiring – be patient and consistent, and all your efforts should pay off!

If you need help at all with house training your puppy, please contact the centre you rehomed your pet from and we will do our best to help you.

How to house train a puppy

Dr. Bartley Harrison is a veterinarian with more than 15 years of professional veterinary experience treating dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and small mammals, with a specific focus on Emergency Medicine. Dr. Harrison is part of The Spruce Pets’ veterinary review board.

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The Spruce / Kristie Lee

The first thing on any new puppy owner’s mind is housebreaking. I recommend you switch the word ‘breaking’ for the word ‘training’. I will, however, sometimes use it in my writing because that is what people are accustomed to saying. Doesn’t ‘breaking’ lead you to think of doing something to your puppy to teach her? The word ‘training’ reminds you that this is a learning process for you and your puppy. There are five key concepts to teach:

  1. Teach your puppy where you want it to go potty
  2. Teach your puppy where you do not want it to go potty
  3. Teach your puppy to ‘hold it’ when it does not have access to the potty area
  4. Teach your puppy how to tell you when it needs to go potty
  5. Teach your puppy a phrase or word to go potty when you need for it to​

House-training your puppy is similar to potty training your child. If you would not do something with a child then please do not do it with your puppy! This process is easy unless you do things that make it difficult. Punishment has no place in house-training and will make this process both more difficult and take longer.

For ease of communication, this article will assume you are outdoor training your puppy. For indoor training simply substitute ‘outside’ for ‘potty area’.

Equipment

Start by gathering the correct equipment. Think for a moment about your field of expertise. Does using the proper equipment make things easier?

  • Good quality puppy food
  • Buckle collar or harness
  • 3-4 foot non-retractable lightweight leash
  • 15-foot non-retractable cotton web long line
  • A place to confine your dog—this is the largest area your puppy will keep clean and not chew up—typically a crate or exercise pen
  • A place to walk your dog for outdoor training
  • For indoor training either 2 dog litter boxes or 2 frames that hold potty pads and a good supply of potty pads
  • Small, easy-to-swallow treats
  • Carpet cleaner
  • A good amount of patience
  • A sense of humor

Think about these things before you start:

    . What goes in comes out! The puppy that eats all day will need to go at unpredictable times. Feeding on a schedule allows you to predict when your puppy needs to eliminate.
  1. The best place for your puppy to sleep is in a small wire crate next to your bed. It is a good idea to have a larger crate in the area of your house where you spend the most time. Consider using an indoor exercise pen if you need to leave your puppy for longer than four hours.
  2. Choose a keying phrase that the entire family agrees with. I use ‘be quick’ with my dogs. You might also say ‘business’, ‘go potty’, ‘or ‘ water the grass’. The only rule is that you are comfortable saying the phrase in public!

The Five Concepts of Housetraining Your Puppy

Let’s review the 5 concepts of housetraining your puppy. It is important to teach all five concepts to your puppy! There is no specific order to teaching these:

The first is how to teach your puppy where to go potty. Decide where the potty area is and consistently take your puppy there. Remember to say the word "outside" as you go outside or "inside" as you go to the indoor potty area. Give your treat five seconds after your puppy has finished going.

How to house train a puppy

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

The second concept teaching your puppy where not to go potty. Avoid frightening and/or punishing your puppy. Redirection without fear is the fastest way to results.

How to house train a puppy

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

The third concept is how to teach your puppy to hold it. Use confinement to teach this when you cannot watch your puppy. Use your leash (safely) indoors when you can supervise its activity.

How to house train a puppy

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

The fourth concept is to teach your puppy how to tell you it needs to go potty. I suggest teaching your puppy to ring a bell instead of barking, whining, or scratching the door.

How to house train a puppy

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

The fifth concept is how to condition a keying phrase to get your puppy to feel the internal urge to go potty when you need for it to go.

How to house train a puppy

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

You will find that all five concepts weave together to patiently teach your puppy what you expect from it. I do not believe that there is such a thing as a partially house-trained dog. Your puppy is either house-trained or it is not. You can use these five concepts to teach a puppy or teach an older dog, as long as the dog is of sound mind and body. It is, however, much faster and easier to teach these concepts in puppyhood!

Dogs can be housetrained at any age, but puppies learn much more quickly than adult dogs. Puppies are cute enough that most owners forgive puppy-sized accidents, but adult-size deposits are much more of a problem.

It takes a bit of trial and error before most puppies get the hang of housetraining, but a little patience will go a very long way.

Pups need a bathroom break after every meal, nap, and playtime. Depending on its age and breed, most dogs eat several times per day. Prevent accidents by anticipating when the puppy needs a break.

Create a Schedule

Base potty breaks on the pup's age, activity level, and mealtimes.

Your pup has a baby-size bladder and a limited capacity to "hold it." In general, a two-month-old puppy needs a break about every two hours. At three months, every four hours should be adequate.

It can vary a bit between breeds, with large and giant breeds having a bit more capacity and toy breeds a bit less. But in general, here’s what to expect:

  • 4-month-old pups can wait five hours
  • 5-month-olds can wait about six hours
  • 7-month-old pups should be able to wait about eight hours.

Choose a Location

Dogs rely on scent cues to remind them what’s expected. Whether you create an indoor toilet spot with newspaper, pee-pads, or a doggy litter box, or select an outdoor area, take the dog to the same place each time.

Concentrate on the Act

Keep the dog on a leash until it’s productive, or it may only play and then have an accident inside. Take off the leash for playtime as part of the reward for eliminating.

Name the Deed

When the dog squats, say a cue word that identifies the action. Make sure your entire family uses the selected cue consistently. Once the puppy has been productive, reward with lots of praise, play, or a tiny treat that doesn't upset its regular nutrition.

Confine and Supervise

Puppies don’t want to be in an area with their own waste, so confinement can be a tool to teach a quick lesson. A small room won’t work—a puppy can poop in one corner and sleep in the other. If the pup isn’t productive after 15 minutes during a break, confine the dog in a crate for 15 minutes and then try again.

If the dog defecates or urinates in the crate, that confines the mess to an easily cleaned area. The dog will have to live with its mistake for a short time. The next time the puppy will be more likely to empty when offered the opportunity.

Watch for Warnings

Puppies sniff the ground and walk in circles before they go. If the dog squats inside, pick it up, stopping the process, and move it to the designated legal toilet area. Give your cue word, and praise when it's successful in the right spot.

Clean Accidents

Use an odor neutralizer to eliminate the smells that lure your puppy back to the scene of the crime.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

The biggest error puppy owners make when trying to housetrain their dogs is yelling at or hitting the dog for having an accident. This makes the puppy associate its elimination with punishment, and since dogs want to please people, negative reinforcement teaches puppies to go when you're not watching or to hide deposits from you.

Frustrating as it might be, try not to get annoyed at your puppy as it's learning where and when to go.

Timing is key when teaching cause and effect. The dog won't understand your anger has anything to do with the deposit it created five minutes ago. Unless caught in the act or pointed out within about 90 seconds, verbally correcting the puppy won't work.

People are more motivated to work for a bonus than a threat of reprimand, and so are dogs. Once the puppy learns it will be rewarded for going in the right spot, it will work to avoid accidents partly to please you.

The secret of how to potty train a puppy is consistency, patience, positive reinforcement and a manageable schedule. Most puppies learn a training schedule within 4 to 6 months, and if they are under 24 weeks old, will need to potty a minimum of 3 to 5 times per day.

How to house train a puppy

In the beginning of potty training, be prepared for many trips outdoors throughout the day. The best method to teach a puppy to go outside is consistency, and all dogs learn what’s expected fairly quickly once a routine is in place.

12-step potty training guide

Learn to patiently train a puppy to potty in a certain area with this easy guide.

1. Take the puppy outdoors early in the morning as possible.

2. Place your puppy in an area that he will mark as his potty-training spot.

3. Allow the pup to smell the ground and explore until a favorable spot is found.

4. After his potty, lavish your young dog with lots of praise for good behavior.

5. Return indoors to give your pup breakfast.

6. 20 minutes after eating/drinking/playing, take the pup outside again.

7. Place your puppy in the same spot he marked earlier. Allow him to explore again.

8. To help him understand it’s time to potty, walk him around the area slowly and encourage him to follow you or teach him to potty with a command that you’ll continue to use, such as “go potty”.

9. Repeat the command and point down to the area for him to go to. This may take a few tries.

10. Once the pup potties, give him lots of praise, you may even reward him with a tiny treat.

11. 2-hours later, repeat steps 7 to 10.

12. Dog training tip: be consistent, never miss a break, always be supportive to your puppy and you’ll get the results you want in no time!

Which potty training schedule is best for your puppy’s age?

2-HR POTTY TRAINING SCHEDULE 3-HR POTTY TRAINING SCHEDULE
24-hr For puppies up to 6 months old For puppies up 6-12 months old
6.00 short walk/potty short walk/potty
6.30 feed*/water/potty feed*/water/potty
9.00 potty
10.00 potty
11.00 feed*/water/potty
13.00 short walk/potty feed*/water/potty
15.00 potty
16.00 feed*/water/potty short walk/potty
18.00 short walk/potty
19.00 feed*/water/potty
20.00 potty
20.30 feed*/water/potty
22.00 potty potty

*roughly 20 mins after each meal/water

How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

Some puppies pick up potty training in six months but it can take longer. Puppies, like most young, learn at their own pace and it is important to be patient, kind, and supportive during potty training.

A puppy’s bladder control depends on his size, breed and age. Smaller breeds need to have increased breaks as their bodies process food and liquids much faster than larger breeds.

From the first day of your pup’s potty training schedule, ensure that you are consistent so that he learns that he goes out after a nap, playtime, food or any activity. Most puppies need potty breaks every couple of hours, regardless of their breed.

10 potty training tips to get you started

  • Create a designated space for your puppy using a baby gate to limit his run of the house.
  • Recognize your puppy’s pre-bathroom behavior; look out for potty trip indicators such as sniffing or circling.
  • Puppies need breaks between 3 to 5 times a day or more.
  • Take a puppy outside 20 minutes after any activity, meal and drink.
  • Dogs under 6 months old should be on 2-hour potty rotations throughout the day.
  • Pups learn what’s expected through consistency, take him to the same spot every time.
  • Once a pup has pottied, give him of lots of praise to reward him for good behavior.
  • Never punish a puppy for mistakes indoors, never yell or get physical with him.
  • If a pup has a mishap, firmly say “no,” gently pick him up or show him where to potty.
  • To ensure pups don’t return to the same spot inside, eliminate odors,clean thoroughly.

Adopting a potty-trained puppy

Potty training should be a positive experience for a newly adopted puppy and can help him to feel settled into his new home. Here are some beneficial pointers to support you and your new puppy along the way.

  • A baby gate to contain the pup in one area ensures he is always supervised and helps set him up for housetraining success. that let a pup feel confident and cared for, and secure.
  • Good quality pet odor and stain remover.
  • Dog essentials – poop bags (even at home), poop pick-ups as it can spread diseases such as Lyme in certain regions and worms.
  • A puppy-proof potty space.

Consistency and patience are key, and combined with these tips you and your new puppy will be on the right track! Remember, occasional accidents can happen with any dog or puppy, but following these guidelines can go a long way to help set you both up for house training success!

Find more information in Puppy Care 101. Get expert tips and news and subscribe to the Petfinder Newsletter.

House training (toilet training) a puppy or a dog takes time and patience and, just as with children, every puppy or dog is different and will learn at their own pace.

To make the process of toilet training successful and as efficient as possible, you need to use reward-based positive reinforcement training. The first step is to give your dog plenty of opportunities to go outside. The second is to reward the dog every time (or as often as possible) that they toilet in the place where you want the dog to go to the toilet.

The reward must occur immediately after the event (within a few seconds), not when the dog comes back inside, as the dog will not make an association between going to the toilet in the right spot and the reward unless it is given straight afterwards. The reward can be in the form of praise (a pat on the chest or saying ‘good’ dog in a pleasant tone of voice), offering a food treat or giving the dog their favourite chew toy.

This system relies on you supervising the dog as much as possible throughout the day so as not to miss the opportunity to reward the dog for the good behaviour. The more often you can do this, the faster the dog will learn. You should also look out for signs showing the dog is about to go to the toilet so you can take them outside and are ready to reward them as soon as they have finished. When dogs are about to go to the toilet they tend to sniff the area, circle and then pause in the spot (though individuals may vary so owners may watch their dog to get an idea of what they do).

Remember to take your puppy or dog to the toilet area first thing in the morning, as dogs will often need to go to the toilet at this time. Take them to the toilet area frequently.

Positive reinforcement also involves ignoring ‘unwanted’ toileting – i.e. if the dog goes to the toilet in the wrong place it is best to display no reaction. You should clean the area thoroughly with a non-ammonia based cleaning product (these can be found at your local veterinary clinic or animal supplies store) to take away the scent and reduce the likelihood of the dog using the same place again next time.

Old-fashioned responses such as ‘rubbing the dog’s nose in it’ or administering any form of punishment will not teach the dog anything, in fact it may actually delay the learning process. The dog may instead learn that toileting in front of the owner is inappropriate and this then makes rewarding toileting (when they do go in the right spot) difficult.

It is very important to note that young puppies often do not have full control over their urination until they are a bit older. That is, urination is a developmental process, so very young puppies can make a toileting mistake without being able to prevent or control it.

How to house train a puppy

The process of housebreaking often brings on feelings of nervousness and worry, but the process does not have to be stressful—for you or the puppy.

The truth is this is a situation in which you have Mother Nature working with you right from the start while puppy training. When the puppies are first born, they eat and they relieve themselves inside the den, but the mother always cleans them. There is never a scent of urine or feces where the puppies eat, sleep, and live. When they get old enough, they learn to use outside areas as they imitate their mother.

Conditioning

In this way, all dogs become conditioned never to eliminate in their dens. From two to four months of age, most pups pick up on the concept of housebreaking and crate training quite easily since it is part of their natural programming.

Puppy’s Digestive Tract

Another built-in plus when it comes to housebreaking is our puppy’s digestive tract, which is extremely quick and efficient. Five to 30 minutes after the puppy eats, she’ll want to defecate. So with a consistent eating schedule, and your attention to the clock, your puppy can maintain regular trips outside.

In the early days of housebreaking, you also want to make sure the puppy has a place to relieve herself where she feels safe; a place that seems and smells familiar. Have you noticed how dogs will often eliminate in the very same spot they’ve done so before? The scent acts like a trigger.

Your Energy

As always, remember that your own energy is a big factor in your housebreaking efforts. If you are feeling nervous or impatient or are trying to rush a puppy to relieve herself, that can also stress her out. Using a loud, high squeaky tone to encourage your puppy to “go potty” is a distraction to the dog, so try and avoid any conversation at all.

Setting a Routine

First thing every morning, bring your puppy outside to the same general area. It is important to remain consistent throughout the process so your puppy can learn the habit.

Once your puppy has successfully gone outside, it is important to reward the good behavior. It doesn’t have to be a big, loud celebration, but a simple quiet approval or a treat can get the message across of a job well done.

Positive Reinforcement

Don’t punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create a negative association with her bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and quietly remove the puppy to the place where you want him to go.

Done correctly, housebreaking should not be a turbulent production but just a matter of putting a little extra work into getting your puppy on a schedule during the first weeks after she arrives at your home. Don’t let unnecessary stress over this very natural, uncomplicated process taint any of the joy surrounding the puppy training process and your new dog’s puppyhood.