How to Potty Train a Puppy

Inviting a puppy into your life is a big decision with countless rewards. Not only are they just about the cutest thing you’ve ever laid your eyes on, but they’re also filled with limitless affection for you. However, owning a puppy isn’t without its challenges. Without a doubt, potty training is one of the biggest you will encounter. It takes practice and patience, and perhaps a few mishaps along the way. 

However, for all the hard work you put in, you’ll be rewarded with a well-trained puppy who knows exactly where to do his or her business! If you’re ready to take the plunge, be sure to read our 4 expert puppy potty training tips.

two puppies sleeping

1. Start Early

The earlier you start your puppy potty training, the easier it will be. That being said, you will need to wait until they have matured enough to have sufficient control of their bladder and bowel movements. It’s for this reason that experts generally recommend starting potty training when a puppy is three to four months old. 

An added benefit of potty training your puppy early is that they will take to other types of training easily. For example, when you are ready to train them to do tricks using a dog training collar, they’ll be able to pick them up faster.

2. Decide the Method of Potty Training

close-up of labrador retriever puppy looking in the distance

There are two primary methods of potty training you will need to choose between. You will train your dog to either: 

  1. Relieve themselves inside of the house
  2. Relieve themselves outside of the house

Inside of the house 

There are a number of reasons you may prefer to choose this method of potty training. One of the major reasons could be because you don’t have an outdoor area or the one you have is very small. 

This method is straightforward, but it will take some patience. First, pick an area of the house you would like your puppy to do their business. Then, cover your chosen area in pee pads. Otherwise known as potty pads, these are sheets that are designed to absorb your puppy’s messes. There are many benefits to using them, such as the fact that they’re easy to clean up, convenient, and comfortable for your dog to use. 

You should place your puppy’s bed nearby so they begin to associate the area as their own. When the pee pads become soiled, replace them. 

Alternatively, you can use a crate training method. This requires you to train your puppy to do their business in a crate. It isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, and some people prefer this method as it isolates your puppy’s messes to one easy to contain spot. If you want to try it out for yourself, be sure to read up on some useful tips for crate training.

Outside of the house

If you have a backyard and your puppy isn’t currently receiving their core vaccines, it will save you time, hassle, and resources to skip indoor training. There are a couple of ways to go about training your puppy to relieve themselves outside of the house.

Perhaps the most popular method is to place your puppy outside at times it is likely to need to relieve itself. That is, after they’ve just woken up, within half an hour of eating or drinking, or when they’re very excited or have been active. To pinpoint when the best times to take your puppy out of the house, you can keep notes on when they tend to go to the toilet.

You can also combine this method with teaching your dog to relieve themselves on cue. This will no doubt take some work, but it can be very handy if they can master it. You will need to pick a phrase that will indicate to your dog they should relieve themselves. Keep it simple, like “go potty”. 

Every time you take your dog out to relieve themselves, calmly say your chosen phrase as they do. Keep this up, and your oh-so-smart puppy will soon be able to go to the toilet on your command!

3. Always Use Positive Reinforcement

If your puppy accidentally pees in the wrong place, it can be tempting to get frustrated. However, you should refrain from scolding your puppy, taking away their toys as punishment, or other negative reinforcement techniques. Negative reinforcement, particularly at such a young age, will cause your puppy stress and may, in fact, make them act out in defiance. 

The best way to potty train a puppy is to use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement teaches your puppy to follow the desired behavior by rewarding them when they do so. As Cesar’s Way explains, positive reinforcement isn’t simply a case of constantly praising them every time they do something right. There are many do’s and don’ts you need to keep in mind along the way. 

For example, you shouldn’t rely on providing treats as a means of reward forever—you should focus on eventually weaning your pup of them. Familiarising yourself with such guidelines will be essential to your puppy’s potty training success.

About the Author

Monica Mizzi is a freelance writer and digital marketer with a soft spot for all fluffy creatures. She’s written 100+ articles about animal care, ranging from how to train puppies to the healthiest pet snacks on the market. She is now a writer for Pet Life Today. Having grown up with a Tabby cat and later a Netherland Dwarf rabbit, she’s always had a love for animals. While she’s now on the road too much to take care of her own pet, she’s found an innovative solution: take care of other people’s pets! She’s now something of a professional cat sitter, having taken care of nine gorgeous cats just in 2019! Her dream is to one day visit Antarctica to see penguins marching.

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