Updated: Feb 26
As a certified dog trainer, I get to see plenty of amazing first-time puppy parents and watch the look on their faces as they figure out how to be a puppy parent-it is a look of excitement and pure terror. They'll ask me what they should buy, what kind of food to feed their puppies, what toys to get them, and of course, "how do I potty train my dog?". There's so much to consider when potty training a puppy, that most puppy parents feel overwhelmed with the idea. Although it does take time and a lot of patience, once you have these 5 things, it becomes much easier.
Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read our full disclaimer here
Routines are absolutely essential and, in my opinion, the most important part of potty training. When I talk about having a routine I refer to a potty schedule, a feeding schedule, and the spot where they go potty. According to The Humane Society of the United States "Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age."
2 months = every 2 hours
3 months = every 3 hours
4 months = every 4 hours, etc.
Having a set time for feedings will help keep up the potty routine and keep accidents at a minimum. Puppies should be fed two to three times daily and taken to go potty shortly after. Your puppy will need to immediately relieve themselves after they wake up in the morning. So be prepared to take your puppy outside or two to a designated potty pad.
When you take your puppy to relieve itself, considering where you want your puppy to go potty is important. If your puppy is not fully vaccinated or has not been cleared to walk on the ground outside yet, find a spot to lay down a potty pad that is out of the walkway, easy for your puppy to access, and will be easy to clean up after if your puppy makes a mess. By keeping your potty pads in the same place your puppy will learn that this specific spot is the acceptable spot to relieve themselves until it is safe for them to go outside to go potty. Once it is safe, you can start slowly moving the potty pad closer and closer to your preferred spot outside, and making the potty pad smaller and smaller.
Crate training has proven to be a useful tool for parents potty training their puppy. When used properly, it can be a safe haven for your puppy to relax and learn to hold their bladders. Make sure that your crate is only big enough for your puppy to walk in, turn around, and lie down. That way you avoid giving your puppy enough room to find a place to potty in their crate.
Parents with larger breed puppies often find it easiest to get a crate with a divider to allow their puppy to grow into the crate while still keeping the space that they need at their current size. Place your puppies crate somewhere that is frequented by you and your family, to keep your puppy from being unintentionally isolated. You can keep your puppies crate comfortable by providing beds and toys for your puppy to play with and relax, making the crate an area that your puppy enjoys and is not afraid to go to.
Your puppy should not stay in the crate for long periods of time without proper exercise and should not be left unattended longer than it can hold its bladder. At Travelers Pet Care, we are happy to schedule visits during your work hours to give your puppy potty breaks and essential playtime to exercise your puppy and keep them stimulated.
Potty training should be a positive experience for you and your puppy. Positive reinforcement makes potty training easier by making it voluntary for your puppy. Your puppy wants the treat and will learn to go potty where you want them to go in order to receive the treat. Which will help make the potty training process go faster.
Positive reinforcement refers to praise, pets, treats, or all of the above when your puppy does what you want them to do, like going potty on the puppy pad, and avoiding punishing your puppy for not doing what you want them to do, or doing what you don't want them to do. If you catch your puppy eliminating somewhere you do not want them to go, you can make a loud noise to startle them, causing them to stop and giving you an opportunity to move them to the appropriate potty area. If you find an accident too late, calmly clean it up and give your puppy a chance to go potty in the appropriate area. Always monitor your puppy for signs that they may need to eliminate, such as excessively sniffing the ground and pacing, to avoid accidents.
Really good cleaning supplies
As we all know, dogs have really good noses. When a dog eliminates, the enzymes in their urine leave a specific smell that tells the dog where to go back to. For puppies that are still learning where it is appropriate to eliminate, this can be problematic. So you want to make sure you are using a cleaner that works.
I use personally use Angry Orange, this stuff is nothing short of miraculous! This product is hands down my favorite cleaner on the market at the moment and it smells amazing. This can be used to clean messes and completely destroy the odor that would tell the puppy to go there again. This will prevent future accidents in the exact same spot.
Natures Miracle is my second favorite, it gets the job done. It's a trusted company that has been around for a long time. This is also great for eliminating those enzymes in their urine that leave a specific smell that tells the dog where to go back to.
With all of these tools at hand to train your puppy, patience is still necessary. Just like with human babies, it takes time for a puppy to learn to control their bladder and where it is appropriate to eliminate. depending on size, age, and consistency, some puppies can take up to six months to be potty trained whereas others can take up to a year. Our job as responsible puppy parents is to teach them what we consider appropriate and to pay attention to our puppy's needs.