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How to Successfully Potty Train (House Train) Your Puppy

One topic that is brought up a lot in dog training is how to house train a dog. House training is a necessity when owning a dog because no one wants to see their dog turn their carpet, bed or belongings into a toilet. So just as our parents potty trained us, we must potty train our dogs too.

Training your new pup so he doesn't soil in your house can be challenging. However, he can learn to keep your home clean quite quickly if you train him using supervision, consistency, and repetition.

Potty Training Problems

Note that some dogs are more difficult to potty train than others. They just seem to take a little longer to figure it out. It is thought that small and toy breeds such as the Maltese or the Havanese fall into this category. In these cases, persistence is the key. Most pups are fully trained by around 4 months of age.

If your pup urinates with excitement when you arrive home from work, this isn't a failure of potty training. It is most likely because he is young, and it will resolve with maturity.

Those pups with separation anxiety will soil the house while you are out. They will also show other symptoms such as crying and howling, and destroying your furniture. If you suspect your pup is suffering from this condition, you'll need to seek help from your veterinarian.

Toilet training needn't be a chore. Follow these guidelines, and you will soon be able to trust your pup as he wanders freely through your home or dozes on the carpet.

Helpful House Training Resource:

For help with potty training your dog, you should take a look at The Ultimate House Training Guide by Kingdom of Pets the creators of the very popular Secrets to Dog Training. Get this guide and experience a No Stress, No Mess experience with your puppy

8 Potty Training Tips To Help You Prepare to House Train your Puppy

Before we dive into the “How” of potty training your pup let's take a look at tips to help you prepare and now what to expect.

1. Clean

The first thing you need to do is go on an intense cleaning-spree in your home and thoroughly cleanse every place where there has been an accident (a large black light can help you find all of the spots).

You should use an enzymatic cleaner made for pets that will break down the Ammonia in their urine. It is not recommended to use orange-based cleaners because they will intensify the ammonia.

Clean very thoroughly because if a dog can smell where they have urinated/defecated before, they WILL do it again.

2. Toilet Area

It's important that you set aside part of your yard to be your pup's potty area. When you take him outdoors to eliminate, keep him on a leash and make sure you always go straight to this area. He will recognize the odors and the smell will encourage him to go to the toilet there.

3. Crate Training

It's definitely easier to potty train your pup if he is crate trained. He isn't likely to soil in his crate, so you can use this to your advantage.

If you let him rest in his crate for a couple of hours, you can then take him straight outside to his special potty area. He is likely to eliminate and you can then praise him heartily.

4. Tethering

Whenever your pup isn't in his crate, have him on leash and tethered to you. By doing this, you can keep an eye out for any indication that he needs to go to the toilet and get him outside in time.

Watch for him start to sniff the ground and walk around in a circle. These are common indicators that he is just about to eliminate. If you miss these, then you're sure to notice him start to squat. With your pup right next to you at all times, you won't miss these signals and you won't have any accidents to clean up.

5. Routine

Your pup is a creature of habit, and it's a good idea to create a routine for him around eating, sleeping and toileting. This means that as soon as he wakes up, as soon as he finishes dinner and even every 30-45 minutes throughout the day, take him outside to his potty area. When he does urinates or defecate, reward him with a treat.

Feed him and take him for his walk as close to the same time every day as possible, and you'll find that you'll be better able to predict when he will need to go to the toilet.

6. Take Your Time

When you take your pup out to his toilet area, he may not want to go to the toilet straight away. He might want to sniff a little and explore your garden. That's okay, don't be in any hurry to come back inside. Keep calling him back to his potty patch and wait. When he does go, praise him. Stay outside for a little while after he has gone to the toilet, so he can potter around for a little while. This isn't easy when it's cold outside, but it will teach your dog that going to the toilet doesn't mean the end of his fun.

7. Use a Command

Just as your pup can learn what to do when you tell him to “sit” or “drop”, he can also be taught a command for eliminating. You may choose to use “potty” or “toilet” or some other one syllable word. Every time your pup eliminates in his potty area, say the word, and give him a reward when he goes. Over time, he will associate the word with the action, and when you use that word, it will encourage him to go to the toilet.

8. Don't Punish

Whatever you do, don't punish your pup if he has an accident inside, and certainly, don't rub his nose on the soiled carpet.

This will frighten him and he will become anxious around you. It won't teach him anything about potty training and it will adversely affect your relationship.

If your pup is still soiling inside, then it is more likely to be your fault than his.

Potty Training Keys to Success

No More Free Feeding/Drinking

Your dog must be placed on a strict food and potty routine.

Put your dogs on a strict routine in which they wake up at the same time every day, eat at the same time, and receive potty breaks at the same time.

This will regulate their digestive system and gives you a reliable time-frame in which to expect your dog to potty

Sample Potty Training Routine/Schedule

8:00 am (or 1st thing when you wake up) Take dog out to potty (wait for pee AND poo)
8:15 am- or soon after potty (usually before I start getting ready for work)Breakfast (put food down for 20 min only)
9:00 am- or right before you leave for the dayPotty break again (pee is likely) then put in crate
5:00 pm (or first thing when you get home)Immediate Potty break (pee is likely)
8:00 pm- or whenever your dog’s dinner time is.Dinner (20 min only) then potty break (wait for pee AND poo)
9:00 pm- or your dog’s normal bed timeLast potty break then in the crate for bed for the rest of the night.

Note: Generally adult dogs have stronger bladders than puppies and can be inside a crate for up to 9 hours.

No More Wandering Around – Supervise Your Pup

When you are home and your dog is not in his crate/pen/room, he needs to stay with you in the same room so you can have your eyes on him at all times.

When you are home and your dog is allowed to run loose, use baby gates and closed doors to keep your dog limited to ONLY the room you are in

Also, call him to follow you when you move from room to room.

This will ensure that you can catch your dog IN THE ACT if they start to go potty in the house.

This is why supervising your dog is crucial to the success of your training.

No More Free Reign of Your Home

When you cannot physically supervise your dog, he needs to be placed in a crate, a playpen, outside or in a small dog-proofed room.

When you are potty training, it is essential to limit your dog’s freedom when you are not around to make sure they are not having accidents.

The best way to do this is through some form of confinement such as a crate, a play-pen with a pee pad, a small dog-proofed room such as a bathroom or laundry room, or outside in your yard.

If you see confinement as a form of cruelty or being unfair to your dog, keep this in mind- if you wouldn’t leave a toddler alone unsupervised in your home, why would you leave your dog?

Dogs are denning animals and prefer small spaces, and by creating a space for them to call their own, you will have the peace of mind knowing that they will not eat, chew or get into anything dangerous.

Place Him in a Crate

In potty training, crates encourage your dog to hold their bladder until you come home to take them to a designated “potty spot” so they learn where they can pee.

A potty spot is a location that you take your dog to go at potty at EVERY TIME, like a favorite tree, a bush or a small area of grass.

Here is an excellent video on how to crate train your dog.

When to Use a Playpen Instead

However, if you are not home to let the dog out for potty breaks, a puppy playpen might be a better solution for you.

For a playpen set up, you would put a pee pad at one end of the pen and a water bowl at the other end and a bed or open space in the middle for them to play and sleep in.

By separating the areas into three distinct regions, it will be very clear which end is for going potty in and which is for spending the day in.

No matter which method of confinement you use, your dog should be in it every time you cannot physically have your eyes on him such as while you are at work, out running errands, in the shower, etc.

Potty Training Steps

Using the potty schedule and/or when you notice that your dog is showing signs that they have to potty (sniffing intently, circling, squatting)

Step 1:

Take your dog(s) out on leash to your designated potty spot, then stand there and wait… and wait… and wait.

Step 2:

Do not talk to them, look at them, pet them, or do anything else that might distract them from the business at hand. This may take a while, but wait it out. Bring a book or your phone and just wait with them until they go. If you time your potty breaks with the times they are most likely to potty, you shouldn’t have to wait long.

Step 3:

When your dog starts going, praise them lightly, saying “good POTTY! Good POTTY!”

And when they finish, praise enthusiastically as if it’s the best thing they have ever done! You can bring a special treat with you too if you’d like.

After they are going potty where they should reliably, usually after going one month accident- free, you can begin to give your dog more freedom to run around your home. But do not give them reign of your whole house just yet. Gradually expand your dog’s freedom as time goes on.

If you have been praising with “good POTTY!” your dog should now be associating the word “potty” with going outside to relieve himself, so you may even be able to ask your dog “do you have to go POTTY?”

If they have gotten used to the routine, they should get excited in response or even head towards the door.

Remember- freedom is earned! And it is earned through reliable potty training. You should not give your dog free reign in your home until they are not having any more accidents.


If you have waited for a very long time and they are just laying down, sitting, watching the world go by, etc, you may bring them back inside.

However, make sure they do NOT have free reign in your home. Instead, put them back in the pen or the crate and try again in 1 hour.

If your dog was doing well with the potty training and you started giving them more freedom but they had an accident again, give them less freedom until they earn it back.

Additional Reminder on Disciple/Punishment

You can ONLY scold your dog if you catch them IN THE ACT, not when you get home and find a puddle.

Dogs live in the moment and will not understand why they are being punished if you wait longer than 5 seconds after they have had an accident to punish them.

If you come home and they have had an accident, simply clean up the mess and go on with your day.

Potty Training your Puppy a Final Word

There you have it. You are well on your way to having a super happy potty trained puppy.

As with any form of training: patience, consistency, persistence, lots of love, and a firm hand are the key to achieving great results.

We hope the above will help prepare you to effectively house train your puppy