Critter Culture
Puppy Potty Training Tips

Puppy Potty Training Tips

Critter Culture Staff



So you went out and got a cute new puppy. It's cuddly and soft and oh-so-sweet, and you're going to be the best of friends. There's plenty to look forward to with your new companion: trips to the park, road trips, and outings to dog-friendly patios. All those things will certainly come, but your adorable new puppy needs to be potty-trained first. But with consistency, time, and a little patience, your new pal will be a pee pro in no time.


To puppy pad or not puppy pad?

Dog Training Pad on the floor in the house. kenzaza / Getty Images

The first thing you need to do when potty training your new puppy is to decide whether or not you will use puppy pads, sometimes also called pee pads. The alternative is teaching your pup to relieve himself outside, skipping the step of the pads altogether.

There isn't a right or wrong decision here; it's entirely a matter of personal preference. Some people don't like having the pads around their homes, while others prefer the easy cleanup of it.


Designate a potty area

fluffy pomeranian puppy and urine puddle, top view nadisja / Getty Images

Whether you choose to use puppy pads or not, you still need a clearly-designated potty spot. Wherever that spot is, an indoor pad or a specific area outside, decide on it early and stick to it. If your chosen potty spot is outside, put your puppy on a leash and walk him or her there, then stop. Wait for your pup to relieve himself before moving on, and if several minutes pass, go back inside and try again later. It's important to continue going to the same spot each time to establish a routine. Similarly, be sure to place puppy pads in the same places each day.


Praise plenty and often

Women embracing French bulldog Mladen Sladojevic / Getty Images

When your puppy successfully goes potty in a designated area or on a pad, it's important that you praise and reward him or her immediately. Puppies learn quickly, and yours will soon get the hang of it: Pee here, receive a treat. Score!

Be sure to have a few treats when you go outside so you can offer one right after the big event. Likewise, keep some in a visible area inside so you won't forget to offer a treat when your pup relieves themselves on a pad.


Learn your pup's cues

An Italian Greyhound curiously looking out the window, waiting to go outside. TracieMichelle / Getty Images

Even the youngest puppies show signs of needing to relieve themselves right before they actually do. Pay close attention in the first few days you have your new pup to see what his or her cues might be. They could include sniffing, pacing, whining, sitting by an exterior door, or suddenly going into another room.

When you see one of these signs, even if you aren't sure if it's a bathroom cue or not, immediately take him or her outside. Don't forget the treats!


Head outside frequently

Leashed young Husky dog standing in green meadow. The beautiful pet is walking in nature on a grass field. The animal is standing and looking away from the camera. Ben-Schonewille / Getty Images

While potty training your new puppy, offering plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom is extremely important. Puppies sometimes don't even realize they need to go until it's too late, so having lots of chances helps counteract this.

A good rule of thumb is to let your pup out first thing in the morning, shortly after all feedings, just before bedtime, and any time you see any potential potty cues.


Create a regular meal time

Yellow Lab Puppy Jim Craigmyle / Getty Images

To help your puppy get on a routine bathroom schedule, it's important to get him or her onto a routine feeding schedule. Whether you're offering food once or twice a day, do your best to offer it at the same time each day. Then, bring the pup to the designated potty spot to go to the bathroom shortly after.

This is a two-fold tip: Your puppy will learn when to expect food, and your bond will be strengthened when you consistently deliver it.


Be water-wise

Two six week old Golden Retriever puppies share a water dish, with one of the puppies looking straight at the camera. chapin31 / Getty Images

Most dog owners allow their pets to drink freely from a water bowl, simply setting it out somewhere accessible. However, keep in mind that the more water your puppy drinks, the more he or she will have to urinate.

It's perfectly fine to leave a water bowl out, but be prepared to take your puppy outside frequently. This is a great opportunity to watch your puppy for possible bathroom cues. If you'd rather not leave a water bowl out all the time, it's important to offer your puppy a small amount often.


What about when you're not home?

Sad west highland white terrier puppy stay behind dog fence and looking at camera. Isolation of puppy when he is alone at home, selective focus Kira-Yan / Getty Images

You'll need to leave your puppy alone at some point, whether it's to head to work or just out for some errands. At this point, you'll have to decide where your puppy will go.

Many people choose to use gates to section off a room, while others invest in a dog crate. The decision should be made based on what's best for your family and lifestyle. Whichever you choose, be sure to leave your puppy with a pad during the potty training phase.


Handling accidents

A distraught 8 week old Chocolate Labrador Retriever sitting next to a urine puddle on the hardwood floor because they missed the training pad behind them. Anybody that has had a young puppy knows the process of house breaking a puppy can be difficult. cmannphoto / Getty Images

Your puppy is going to have some accidents. Maybe just a few, maybe several. That's just the reality. Whether he or she can't make it to the potty area in time or simply makes a mistake, accidents can and will happen.

When you discover a puppy accident, it's important to address it calmly. There's no sense in yelling and getting angry, because the truth is that he or she may not understand why. No matter how recent it was, immediately take your pup outside to the designated potty spot, clean up the accident, and move on.


Be patient

Albai dog running to catch girl in meadow eclipse_images / Getty Images

Being a new pet parent comes with a lot of benefits (like a cuddly, adorable new puppy to hang out with!), but it comes with commitment and some frustrations, too. Keep in mind that your puppy doesn't know how to behave yet; it's your job to guide him or her.

Be patient, try to remain calm even on the frustrating days, and enjoy all the love your new puppy has to give! Remember, he or she won't remain untrained forever.


Utilize crate training as a tool

An adopted Austalian Shepherd blue merle puppy comes home after being adopted by his new owners. Angela Auclair/ Getty Images

Crate training can be a valuable tool in your potty training arsenal. Puppies instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping areas, so using a crate can help teach them to hold it until they're taken outside. Make sure the crate is just large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that they can designate one corner as a bathroom.


Gradually increase the time between potty breaks

Beautiful young woman cuddling her cute little dog at home. Living with a pet. Pet adoption. Oscar Wong/ Getty Images

As your puppy grows and gains better bladder control, you can slowly extend the time between potty breaks. Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase them, monitoring your puppy's progress to ensure they're comfortable with the new schedule.


Use a consistent command or cue for potty time

puppy waiting sitting behind the front door asking for going outside for a walk Os Tartarouchos/ Getty Images

Choose a specific command or cue, such as "go potty" or "do your business," and use it consistently whenever you take your puppy to their designated potty spot. This helps your pup associate the command with the action, and they'll more quickly come to understand what's expected.


Monitor and adjust your puppy's diet

lady feeding her dog , cozy kitchen interior, panorama, copy space. Healthy nutritive full of vitamins and minerals dog food Phynart Studio/ Getty Images

A well-balanced diet can play a significant role in your puppy's potty training success. Feeding high-quality food in appropriate amounts can help regulate their bowel movements, making it easier to establish a consistent potty schedule. If you notice irregularities or issues, consult with your veterinarian about potential dietary adjustments.


Clean up accidents with enzymatic cleaners

zoranm/ Getty Images

Accidents are inevitable during potty training, but it's crucial to clean them up thoroughly to prevent your puppy from returning to the same spot that now smells like a bathroom. Use an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for pet messes, as these products break down odor-causing molecules to eliminate the scent and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses.


Track your puppy's progress and setbacks

Puppy sitting on a hygienic mat Capuski/ Getty Images

Keep a log of your puppy's potty training progress, noting both successes and setbacks. This can help you identify patterns, adapt your training methods based on their improvements or regressions, and celebrate your puppy's achievements.


Consult a professional trainer if needed

Starting His First Dog Obedience Class FatCamera/ Getty Images

If you're struggling with potty training or encountering persistent issues, don't hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer. They can offer guidance, support, and personalized advice to help you and your puppy overcome any obstacles.


Address any medical issues that may affect potty training success

Woman training her dog obedience Hirurg/ Getty Images

Sometimes, underlying medical issues can contribute to potty training difficulties. If your puppy is experiencing unusual symptoms, frequent accidents when they were previously improving, or sudden changes in behavior, consult your veterinarian to rule out any health concerns that may be impacting their potty training progress.



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