Puppy Potty Training Guide

First of all, when it comes to potty training a puppy there are a few things you should learn to expect. Firstly, potty training puppies will never be completely predictable no matter how many puppies you’ve trained. This is not to say it doesn’t get easier (and it’s not that hard in the first place), but I would never call it predictable.

Unless, somehow, you managed to achieve full 24-hour watch over your puppy then you’ll need to make yourself at peace with the idea that there are going to be accidents. No matter how good of a trainer you are and how well behaved that little puppy is, his (or her) bladder is too small, and they lack proper control until they are older (around five to seven months). Not to fret though, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage to your home.

How To Potty Train A Puppy

The basic technique behind potty training a puppy is constantly moving them to the garden every hour (or less) and also before and after eating, playing, sleeping and meeting new people or things. Yes, that’s a big list, but it needs doing. You also need to keep a vigilant watch for signs of your puppy moving towards their usual potty area, so you know it’s time to move them outside. You can make the potty training a puppy period a little easier in this respect by looking at how to potty train a puppy with a bell. If circumstances (such as adverse seasonal conditions or living in a high rise apartment) don’t allow you easy access to the garden our outdoor area then perhaps have a look at how to paper train a puppy or how to litter train a puppy.

Once your puppy is in the correct potty area (be that outside, or on top of the paper, pad or litter tray) repeat a potty command. It can be anything, but I tend to use something like ‘potty’ and repeat this command. You need to continually repeat this command and use this same command every time you potty train a puppy. As soon as your puppy does the correct action instantly reward them.

Three things you need to know at this point. First of all, potty training a puppy is all about learning by rote. By doing the same thing over and over and receiving a reward, the puppy quickly catches on to what is expected of them. You also need to know that with any kind of puppy training you need to move quickly and close the gap between the action and the reward, otherwise, the puppy will think you are rewarding them for whatever they were doing at the point of the treat. This is where clicker training comes in useful. Lastly, puppies tend to aim for the same areas to use the potty, so it makes it easier to pre-empt.

Now that you know what you’re doing to reward the good behavior – what about the bad? First of all, you can only correct puppies actions when catching them in the act. You can’t find a mess afterward and scold the puppy for doing it – they don’t think the same way humans do and won’t understand what they did wrong. If you do catch your puppy in the act (and with the right vigilance, you will) you need to repeat a command such as ‘no’ and move the puppy to the correct potty area and repeat the potty command. If they then do the potty in the right place you reward them before returning to clean up the mess.

You need to clean up a mess quickly, and it’s hard to convince a puppy that they’re not meant to use the rug as a potty when that’s what it smells like. You can pick up sprays especially made for the job (they remove the mess, smell and are safe for the puppy) from pet shops and many department stores.

Paying Attention To Puppy’s Cues

When a puppy has to go, he has to go NOW. He can’t wait five minutes while you finish that computer game or load the dishwasher, or for the next commercial on the TV. Small children can’t wait to get to the potty, and neither can a puppy. The reason is that his bladder is smaller, and he doesn’t have a lot of control over it yet. It’s up to you to make sure he gets outside or to his puppy training pad on a regular schedule so he doesn’t have an accident.

Scolding him for an accident only shows him that it’s easy to make you mad. He’s also learning that your love is conditional. But he hasn’t learned anything about how to potty, which is what you wanted your puppy to learn. See how easy it is to teach him what you don’t want him to learn?

That’s all there really is to get started, so you don’t need to stop wondering how to potty train a puppy and take some action. Easier than you thought, right?

Puppy Potty Bell Training System

The challenging part of puppy house training is knowing when your pup is urgent to go out for some business. Some dogs will bark and whine at you while others may sniff around or do nothing unusual. The question is, how to find out what a puppy really wants? The best bet is to eliminate that communication gap between your puppy and you by using potty training bells.

Potty training bells hang on or next to the door you will use to take a puppy out for potty. It’s easier than you might be thinking to train your puppy to ring the bells. I want to suggest puppy training bells you’ll find on Amazon (affiliate link here).

How to use the potty training bell system

The bell training system is quite simple, but like any training, it needs to be consistent training. It’s best to start in the morning when a puppy is ready to do some business. It will be easier to have puppy related to the bells faster rather when he has legs crossed.

Take puppy to the door where you have your potty training bells hanging. Take puppies little paw and smack the bells. You could also have your pup’s nose gently hit the bells, your choice.

Now you will connect the sound of the potty training bells with a command that tells puppy he’s going out for potty. A command like “Good puppy (or puppies name) ring the bells – let’s go potty”!

Without saying or doing anything else take puppy directly to the location he/she can go potty. Being immediate doesn’t give the puppy time to associate anything other than potty with the bells and the command.

Once the puppy has gone potty, you can praise or give a treat. Puppy doesn’t get a treat for ringing the bell because that’s only half the job. If you gave treats for ringing the bell you would be hearing that bell all the time.

There will be times that puppy may think that ringing the bell and going outside will earn a treat but if the puppy doesn’t go potty while outside there is no treat.

Never allow potty training to include any playing as it gives the wrong idea. For this reason, you may want to take your pup out on a leash, so it doesn’t get distracted.

Repetition, consistency, and praise is key to success

Consistency: when dogs are still puppies it’s easy to confuse them with mixed signals so be sure you use only one command for going potty. It means the entire family uses the same commands that are initially taught to the puppy.

Repetition: just like for us, humans, it takes time for y our puppy to learn new things so don’t expect immediate results. It will take consistency as I mentioned, but it will also take repetition. Doing the same thing over and over until they get it right, which won’t take long at all.

Praise: make a habit of taking a puppy to the bells and giving the command, help puppy ring on the bells to build the association. Give praise for ringing the bells at the beginning but praise only, no treats.

Potty training or toilet training your dog using housebreaking bells is a quick way to teach your puppy how to communicate effectively and will make your puppy happier as they will be less stressed when trying to convey.

Potty training your puppy using the housebreaking bells method has been advised by trainers, veterinarians and owners of pets for many years – and it’s for the simple explanation; it works!

How To Potty Train A Puppy At Night

Basically, you are going to have to accept there are going to be accidents no matter what you really do. Puppies have small bladders and little to no control over them. Even a perfectly trained puppy is going to have the odd accident from time to time.

The main thing people turn to when potty training at night is crates or cages. Now, crate training a puppy certainly has it’s advantages, and in some situations it’s perfect, but it can train a puppy bad habits. Namely that you would be telling your pup that it’s ok to use his sleeping area as a potty spot. You want these as separate as possible in the dog’s mind. And since training a puppy involves teaching by rote and repetition, bad habits need to be avoided like the plague.

It is a possibility but not a great one. Paper training is a little better, but still has the long term problems of having to change what you’ve taught them. Buying a potty for the puppy is really the same thing as paper training. It’ll work – but when you want them to use outdoors, you’re better off not teaching them opposite habits earlier on.

The best thing you can do is take your puppy to their set potty area outside right before you go to bed and make sure they do their business. Don’t feed them within an hour before bedtime and leave just a little bit of water (make sure to fill this up first thing in the morning). Avoid introducing any new people, or other exciting changes, an hour or so before going to bed – this will help from getting your young pup excited.

Other than that, you can at least limit the damage. While locking your pet in a small area should be avoided you could close a door or two and prevent the floors with carpets or expensive rugs for example from getting messed up. If you’re going to do this way make sure your puppies sleeping area is somewhere you can leave open. That is also a good reason not to let your puppy sleep on the sofa, at least until you know how to potty train a puppy.

Keeping Puppy House Training Positive

The best way to train your new puppy is to use positive reinforcement. Teach him what you want him to do by praising him for what he does right. Your little buddy really wants to please you. He’s so happy when you praise him, and lavish attention on him, that he wants to please you again so you’ll praise him again. This is a cycle, but a good one!

With constant repetition of this cycle of positive reinforcement, puppy training becomes much easier. He’s learning to associate pleasing you with good things happening to him. But it’s up to you to make sure you keep him on a schedule to prevent pet stains and odors in the house.

Remember That Accidents Happen

Even an older, house-trained dog will have an accident now and then, especially if his normal routine is upset. Moving to a new home, visitors, remodeling, and a new baby are only a few things that can cause a pet to break house training. If you find he’s had an accident, clean it up without making a fuss. Don’t scold him or rub his nose in it.

If he seems to favor a certain room for his potty activities, restrict his access to it by closing the door, or putting a baby gate across the opening.

If you’ve recently boarded your pet at a kennel, you may need to revisit his house training lessons. Start with the crate training again, and keep track of when he goes. This makes it easier to take him out at a time when he’s most likely to go, which reinforces the lesson.

Health Issues Causing a Dog To Have Accidents

Certain health issues may cause your pet to have problems with house training. You may not realize it, but puppy urinary tract infections are very common. If your puppy just doesn’t seem to get house training, it could be because she has a canine bladder infection.

Diarrhea in puppies will also cause him to have accidents in the house. If you’re leaving canned food out for him, it can cause him to get sick. Also, make sure nobody is feeding him table scraps and stuff a dog shouldn’t eat.

Puppy training is much easier when he’s healthy. Don’t scold him or punish him for things he can’t control.

Zero Punishment for accidents

When you’re house training a puppy, it’s easy to get too focused on the accidents that are bound to occur. Your frustration level rises, and you scold your new puppy.

The saddest thing you’ll ever see is a puppy that’s been scolded. He’ll hang his head while seeming to shrink in front of you. That little tail is tucked between his legs. He’ll look at you with those big eyes, sadly wondering what he could have done to make you so upset.

And if you’re annoyed at him because he had an accident, he’s not only sad but confused.

Puppy house training can be very challenging. But there are very few dogs who really can’t be house trained. Most of the time the problem lies with the owner. As in all dog training, consistency is the key when house training a puppy.

It used to be thought that whacking a dog with a rolled up newspaper when he had an accident in the house was the best way to train him. All this does is to scare your puppy. Unless you catch him in the act, the puppy won’t have a clue what he did wrong. House training goes much better when he’s rewarded for doing what you want him to do.

Crate training is the preferred method for puppy training now. As mentioned above, puppies don’t like to mess where they eat or sleep. Confining your puppy to his crate takes advantage of this instinct. You let him out every hour or so, and take him either outside, or to his puppy training pad right away.

But it’s important to stick to a schedule during the training period. If you’re a free spirit who comes and goes whenever this won’t work for puppy house training. Your puppy needs to know that you’re going to keep your end of the bargain and let him out on a regular schedule. Otherwise, when he can’t hold it any longer, he’ll have to go in the crate. And if he gets used to doing that, you’ve just made house training him much harder.

Make the commitment to house training your new puppy. The time you put in now will make life easier and happier for both of you. Plus you’ll be building a life-long bond with your new companion.

Cruel House Training Tactics Are Out

It’s simple. When you bring that cute little puppy home, expect a few accidents while you’re going through the “how to potty train a puppy” phase. I can remember a few places I’ve lived and was shocked to see the way some people abused their puppy. Just for doing what puppies do.

Just like our human babies puppies need to learn about potty training. No, they are not born with this knowledge, but I think some people think they are supposed to be. Although it only takes a few days compared to the time it takes us, humans, to master potty training and is why we spent so much time in diapers.

Don’t Rub Puppy’s Nose In His Mistakes

Puppies naturally want to please and will learn faster, without fear, by using kindness instead of rubbing his little face in the problem. Those old views of training puppies were so wrong, yet there are still many who think it’s the only way to train a puppy or dog. Quite often the puppy will leave a mess, just out of fear.

So, rubbing your new puppy’s nose in their feces is just cruelty and teaches your puppy to do things out of fear as they don’t fully understand why you are abusing them. You could also be making your puppy sick due to a face and nose full of E-coli bacteria.

Whacking Puppies Nose Does Help

I can remember my dad using a newspaper to smack our puppy in the nose. He wouldn’t even get out of his armchair. Instead, he would yell at the puppy and then coax him over and smack him on the end of the nose with a rolled newspaper. All I saw this accomplish we fear of dad.

After that type of training, I never saw our dog ever trying to read a newspaper.

I have to add that he treated us the same way. His motto was to beat it out of you before it became a habit. I just learned to be sneakier and how to avoid getting caught.

Don’t Blame Puppy For Your Mistakes

Puppies can only keep their little legs crossed for so long so when you don’t get up in time or get home from work later, don’t blame your puppy for leaving you a crappy gift.

If you can’t keep a regular schedule, you need to give your puppy a place to do business rather than punishing them for have a small bladder. Try to be consistent with training, at least until the puppy is a bit bigger and can hold things longer.

When you are home, it’s your job to watch puppy for signs such as sniffing around because they are likely looking for a place to go. After puppy has had a drink or eaten something, he/she is going to want to find a place to relieve themselves. Watch for whining as well, and this is a good indicator of ‘I gotta go.’

I remember growing up with a heavy-handed father and learned to duck any time he raised his hand around me. Well, puppies learn this as well. Don’t raise your dog to live in fear of punishment. This way they are less likely to snap at people who reach out to them.

In closing, I would add that you need to watch puppy when you’re playing as they will get excited and might have to empty their bladder on the spot. Take puppy out for potty time, don’t play but when a puppy is done do compliment them. Save play time for when you are not doing anything potty or training related.

Crate Training A Puppy Makes Potty Training Easier

Crate training for puppies is a very effective way to house train your new companion. Like all animals, a dog won’t go to the bathroom in the same place where he sleeps or eats. Which is why if you have your puppy’s training pad right next to his food dish, he’s probably not using it!

Crate Training A Puppy

The idea behind crate training is that you are teaching him to be ready and willing to go when you say so. A puppy who’s been in a crate for a short time will more than likely need to potty when you let him out. That’s when you either take him outside or set him on his training pad.

Keep in mind that you can’t leave your pup in the crate all day. He won’t be able to hold it and will go in the crate. If this happens on a regular basis, he’ll lose his inborn instinct to go potty in a different place from where he sleeps. Then you’ll really have problems house training him.

When crate training your puppy, you must be at home so you can keep an eye on how long he’s in the crate. 45 minutes is long enough between potty breaks when you start house training him. As he begins to get the idea, extend the time he’s in the crate by about 15-20 minutes each time.

Keeping a log of how long he’s in the crate, and how often you take him out will help you monitor his progress. You’ll also learn what time of day he needs to go, and how long he can go between potty breaks.

What Happens If He Has An Accident In The Crate?

If he makes a mess in his crate, always clean it up before you put him back in there. Otherwise, as mentioned above, he could lose the instinct to be clean.

Never punish him for having an accident. Just shorten the time between potty breaks. If your dog doesn’t potty after several breaks, make it easy on yourself, and keep him in the kitchen or bathroom.

Be consistent about the time between potty breaks. Don’t expect a puppy to go more than an hour and a half to two hours. You want to reinforce the idea that he goes when you take him out of the crate, not while he’s in the crate. When he does his business quickly, give him lots of praise. Your dog wants your affection and approval, and when he gets it, he’ll respond quickly.

More Puppy Training Tips

You can combine house training your new puppy with leash training, as well. When you take him out on his leash, give him five minutes to do his business. This isn’t the time for aimless wandering.

You puppy will learn that short potty walks have a purpose and that a casual walk is for fun. Believe me, you’ll be happy you taught him this lesson when he wakes you up at 3 AM on a frosty morning needing to go out!

Don’t distract a dog with a full bladder by playing with him, or getting him excited. This is a sure recipe for an accident. Instead, after he potties successfully, give him the run of the house for a short time. He’ll learn that when he goes where you want him to go, he’ll be rewarded by having fun with the family.

Tips For House Training An Adult Dog

If you’re facing housetraining an adult dog, you’ll need to be realistic. House training an older dog takes just as much time and effort as house training a puppy does. These dog training tips can make your job easier.

Your Dog Needs Time To Adjust To His New Home

It’s easy to think that because your new pet was potty trained in his former home, he’ll automatically be potty trained in your home as well. This may not be the case.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that he’ll automatically “know” what to do. Your new pet is probably a little stressed from being in a new home. It will take some time for him to adjust to his new surroundings.

Remember that you need to teach him what is acceptable behavior in your home. His former owner may not have cared about him peeing on the floor. Your dog needs to learn the ground rules in his new home. Just assume that he’s a puppy who doesn’t know what’s what yet, and go from there.

Crate Training Older Dogs

In order to avoid pet stains and odors throughout your home, you may want to try crate training him, just as you would with a puppy. Or keep him in a room where the floor is easily cleaned.

Put him on a schedule. Take him out every hour or so for potty breaks. When he does his business where he’s supposed to, pet him and praise him.

If he has an accident in the house, don’t yell or smack him with a newspaper. His former owner may have done that, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to be extremely patient. It will take time to win his trust. Give him time to get comfortable in his new home.

How to potty train an older dog

Adult dogs can be quite discriminating in their potty locations. It’s important to find a spot that’s not too close to where he plays, eats, or sleeps. Once he finds the right place, take him to that particular location every time he goes out.

Pay attention to his elimination patterns. If you know when he needs to go out, you can let him out before he has an accident in the house.

Set a schedule for meals. He may not be used to this, so give him time to adjust to having an organized life. Most dogs need to go after a meal, so let him out after he eats.

My Dog Is Lifting His Leg And Peeing In The House

The annoying dog behavior problem is quite common with adult males. He’s marking his territory by urinating on it. It’s very hard to break a dog of this habit. Neutering him may help to stop this behavior.

Be Consistent

You can teach an old dog new tricks. But you do have to be consistent. House training an adult dog can be more of a challenge than training a puppy is, simply because he’s already learned certain habits. By being consistent, it will be much easier for him to learn what you want him to do.

Related questions

How long should housebreaking a puppy take?

That’s a good question. The answer is, it takes as long as it takes. If you’ve ever potty trained a child, you know that some kids catch on right away, while others just don’t seem to be interested. Puppies are the same way. Some will figure it out over the course of a few days, while for some dogs it may take up to several months.

It’s important to realize that it’s up to you to teach your puppy what you want. He doesn’t automatically know. Puppies have an instinct to be clean, and not potty where they eat or sleep. But the place he chooses to go probably won’t be where you want him to go.

Is It Easier To House Train An Older Dog Or A Puppy?

The jury’s out on this question. Some people think an older dog is easier to train because he has developed enough bladder control that he can hold it longer. He may already have some house training experience, too.

Others feel that it’s easier to train a puppy because you don’t have any bad habits to overcome. It really does depend on the dog. What’s most important, though, is that you keep things positive to avoid pet stains and odors.

How to keep house clean when potty training a puppy?

Puppy house training doesn’t have to be a long drawn out and messy process. In fact, it may be easier to train your new puppy than it is to train your teenager! Puppies have an instinct to be clean. They don’t want to eat or sleep in the same area where they potty. Use this inborn instinct to your advantage when house training your puppy. Hint – crate 😉

How much attention does a new puppy need?

A puppy who has just been brought into your home will normally go through an adjustment period. He’ s just left his mom and his littermates. Instead of having playmates constantly available, he’s suddenly an “only child” who has to wait for you to pay attention to him.

On the other hand, if you have several children, you puppy may be overwhelmed with the amount of attention he’s getting. It’s easy for him to get overtired and stressed out.

Crate training is a good way to provide a puppy with his own space where he can rest and recharge his batteries. It also takes advantage of his instinct not to make messes where he sleeps.

Who should be responsible for potty training a puppy in a fimila?

It’s best if one adult in the home is in charge of caring for your new pet. You may find that you need need to train your family right along with your puppy! Everyone must be working together, or it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to house train him.

Only one person should be letting him out of his crate. When he’s released, you need to take him outside or to his puppy training pad right away. If he’s turned loose with no supervision, the inevitable result will be a mess. And you’ll be missing out on a valuable training opportunity.

Put your puppy on a schedule right away. A young dog should have a potty break at least once an hour. He can’t hold it for too long. If he you (or someone else) leaves him in there too long, he’s liable to potty in the crate. Once he loses the instinct to stay clean, house training him will be more difficult.

Pet stains and odors don’t have to be part of life with your new puppy. Be consistent with your training right from the start. And take advantage of his natural instincts to make house training him easier.

Don’t you wish it was this easy to train your kids?

To Wrap Up

Housebreaking, house training, what’s the difference? They mean the same thing, right?

Well, not exactly. There’s a big difference in attitude associated with these two words. Think about it. “Housebreaking a puppy” is starting with the idea that you have to force your pup to learn to do his business outside. You can do it that way, but it’s always best to keep things positive to prevent dog behavior problems later in life.

Start off on the right foot with the attitude that you’re going to train your puppy. Instead of forcing your new companion to fit into your household, you’re going to teach him the best way to get along with everyone in your home. And of course, getting along with everyone includes house training.

Bringing your new puppy home is a great moment. But now is not the time start paper training your puppy. And swatting him when he messes up is a big mistake, too.

Look at this from your puppy’s viewpoint. Suddenly he’s alone in a whole new place. His mom and litter mates are nowhere to be seen. There are new people, maybe small children squealing and jumping around, maybe a mean old cat, or another dog in the home. That’s a lot for a young puppy (and even an older dog) to take in.

Your new puppy doesn’t have a clue where it’s okay to potty and where it isn’t. Your job will be to teach him what areas are acceptable for this activity, and what areas are off-limits.

House Training A Puppy Takes A Lot Of Time

Keep your puppy close by, so you can keep an eye on him. When you see him sniffing around, looking for a place to go, pick him up gently and say “no” without raising your voice. Put him on his house training pad, or take him outside. When he goes to the right place, give him lots of praise.

You’ll need to repeat this process in every room in the house. Don’t allow him free run of the house yet. You need to be able to keep an eye on him until he gets the idea.

Patience is the key. You’ll probably be picking him up and taking him outside or to his potty area dozens and dozens of times before he gets the idea. But he will.

Expect A Few Accidents

Even an older dog who is scared of loud noise like a thunderstorm may have a potty accident. So your puppy may break his training if he’s scared and alone.

Be on the alert for puppy bladder infections too. A puppy with a urinary tract infection may find it impossible to hold his urine. Female puppies are especially prone to this problem.

A sudden change in bladder habits can indicate a health problem, especially as your dog ages. Canine diabetes is another condition that can cause incontinence in dogs.

Changes In Routine Can Cause House Training Accidents

If you have house guests, of course, your routine changes. And if you start a remodeling project, everything is a mess. Now is when you really need to keep reinforcing those how to potty train a puppy lessons.

Keeping a positive attitude, along with lots of patience, will lead to success in house training your puppy.

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