You’ve found the perfect puppy for your family and brought him home.  The next question on every new pet owner’s mind is how to potty train a puppy.   Unfortunately, this is a question that often goes unanswered.   One of the most frequent reasons dogs are returned to shelters is because the owners were not successful in their house training efforts and they are tired of the accidents.

Don’t let this happen to you and your new puppy.  Invest the time to successfully housebreak your puppy.  Here are a few free tips to puppy potty training:

Prepare Your Home for Potty Training Your Puppy

Step one is to make sure your household environment is conducive to puppy training.  Just as you would when potty training a child, set the stage for success.

dog gate puppy gateRestrict your new puppy to a small area of the house. This is a good practice in general as letting your dog roam throughout the house can be overwhelming to him.   It also helps with house training in several respects.  First, it is much easier to keep an eye on your puppy and watch for the signs that he needs to relieve himself.  Second, there is nothing more frustrating than finding little “surprises” throughout your house.  House training accidents are inevitable; however, if your puppy is only allowed in a certain area house that are easily to clean, your frustration level will be much lower when they happen.  Dog gates in a couple of key areas in your home make restricting your puppy a simple process.  Most of us are familiar with old fashioned dog gates that had to be screwed into walls or door frames.  However, new models are available that have tensions mounts that eliminate the need for screws and permanent damage to your home, as well as free standing models.

dog crate puppy crateUse a crate for potty training your puppy. Crates are useful in many aspects of dog training and they are especially useful in potty training a puppy.  Whenever you cannot be right next to your dog to watch for signs that he needs to go outside, put him in his crate.  Puppies will not defecate where they sleep and they will wait until you take them out to relieve themselves.   It is important that the crate is just large enough for him to sleep in, so rather than buying multiple crates as he grows, find a dog crate that includes a panel that will allow you to size down the area and can be adjusted as your puppy grows.

Have Realistic Expectations for Potty Training Your Puppy

Many new pet owners set their puppy up to fail by having unrealistic expectations.  There are several puppy potty training courses out there such as, “How to housebreak a puppy in 7 days.”  Whether or not courses like those will be effective is highly dependent on two things:  how consistent and diligent you are in the training process and whether the puppy is old enough to be potty trained.

If your puppy is younger than 8 weeks, it is just not realistic to expect him to have enough control over his bladder to be reliably potty trained after a few days of training.    When puppies are young, their bladders are small and they haven’t matured enough to physically have consistent bladder control.

Expect potty training accidents.  Puppy potty training is a process and there will be accidents.  Just as you make mistakes when you are learning something new, he will make mistakes as well.

How to Potty Train a Puppy

Now, getting down to business, how do you actually potty train a puppy?  The basics are really fairly simple:  be observant and be consistent.

  • Set aside time to focus on potty training your puppy. If you are going to try to house break your puppy in 7 days, set aside those 7 days to focus on it.  Don’t try to potty train in the middle of a hectic and chaotic schedule.  If you have to take vacation time in order to have a consistent schedule, do it.
  • Set up a potty training schedule: The biology of your puppy is simple:  something goes in and something comes out.  The key to a consistent potty training schedule is finding the timing between the two.  Take your puppy out the first thing in the morning.  Take him out 20 to 30 minutes after he eats.  Take him out right before he goes to bed.  Keep track of when you feed him and when he goes.  Be consistent.  If you don’t set up a schedule that he can rely on, he will just relieve himself whenever he feels the urge.
  • Praise for performance: There is a lot of bad advice out there that recommends rubbing your dog’s nose in his mistakes.  That is not helpful.  Dogs love to please.  Rewarding for positive behavior is a more effective training method than punishment.  When it is time to go outside, put your puppy on a leash and take him outside to his potty spot.  As soon as he goes, immediately give him a treat and praise him so that he understands the connection between going potty where you want him to and the reward.  Then let him off the leash and play a little before going inside.  Going potty should be the first order of business and play time afterwards.

If you are asking yourself how to potty train a puppy, you are not alone.  The majority of new puppy owners have the same question.  It does take time and patience, but be assured that every puppy can be potty trained by being consistency.  Your dedication will be rewarded a well mannered canine family member and years of enjoyment and puppy love.

For more information on how to potty train your puppy, click here for more free tips on puppy potty training.