House training a new puppy or shelter dog is usually one of your first goals when you come home. Successful potty training for dogs is about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement; the goal is to instill good habits since the start and to build a loving bond with your pet.
Everyone—whether two- or four-legged—is happier when the puppy knows the rules of the road about where and when to go potty. In this guide we share our expert advice to potty train your pup in 5 simple steps.
That largely depends on how consistent you are and how long your puppy can hold it. It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor, for instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Consider that puppies begin to master their toilet bowls after the first three months of age, so we recommend starting potty training from that age on.
At the beginning of training your puppy to go to the bathroom, confining the pup to a defined space is highly recommended, whether that means in a crate, in a room or on a leash. As your puppy learns that they need to go outside to do their business, you can gradually give them more freedom to roam about the house.
Find a spot that will become the “potty spot,” (outdoors or indoors) and always take your dog to the same spot on leash at least once every 30 minutes while you are home. Make sure that you do this on frequent, regular intervals, six to eight times a day: after eating, drinking, playing, or sleeping. At night, one or two outings are enough for most puppies.
Pro Tip: Feed your puppy at set times each day, and remove the food bowl after 20 minutes. This will create regular intervals in which the puppy will have to go to the bathroom.
Stand still and quietly, wait until the puppy has finished pottying. You don’t want to interrupt the puppy and have them finish that potty indoors!
Pro Tip: If the puppy is learning to relieve themselves, creating noise or distracting him will hinder their learning.
As soon as you’re sure the puppy is done pottying, praise lavishly. Say “good boy/girl!” then give the pup a yummy treat.
Pro Tip: While your puppy is making his/her bowel movements, if you repeat the same phrase (for example, "go potty" ) every time your puppy goes outside to relieve himself, they will understand that this phrase means that it is the right time and the suitable place to remove.
After the puppy relieves themselves successfully, play with the puppy outdoors, or give the puppy up to 15 minutes of carefully supervised time in the house (whichever the puppy prefers).
Pro Tip: If the puppy does not pee or poop, that’s OK—take the puppy back to a confinement area for 10 to 20 minutes, and then outside again.
Repeat these steps throughout the day.
Make sure to pay attention to the signs that tell you that your puppy wants to go to the bathroom: whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or scratching at the door, are all signs they need to go. Take them out right away.
Pro Tip: Proper management and supervision are crucial to successful house training.
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