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Published: Jan 16, 2024 6 min read

Quick answer: Potty training a puppy demands patience and consistency, with methods ranging from crate training to indoor solutions like puppy pads or litter boxes. Tools such as crates, puppy litter boxes, and treats play a crucial role, while negative approaches may lead to long-term behavioral issues. Seeking professional help is advised if a puppy struggles, and starting early with consistent training can lead to success by six months of age.

Potty training a puppy can be one of the most challenging aspects of dog ownership if you’re unprepared. It requires patient and consistent owners willing to put in the work. Luckily, there are many methods that have stood the test of time, some of which we include here. Read on to find out which might be the best potty training option for you and your pup.

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Tips for potty training a puppy

When it comes to house training a new puppy, there are a few different routes you can go, depending on your specific situation. Before settling on one, you need to evaluate your puppy’s needs and habits, keeping in mind that the younger they are, the more frequently they’ll need to go potty. Below you’ll find a few potty training tips that will help you regardless of the method you choose.

  • Decide on a potty spot: First, you need to determine if your puppy’s potty spot should be indoors or outdoors.
  • Establish a feeding schedule: Scheduling meal times will help regulate your puppy’s potty times.
  • Give your puppy lots of praise: Rewarding a young puppy for pottying where they’re supposed to will help reinforce the behavior. Opt for positive reinforcement rather than punishments.

Outdoor potty training

This approach focuses on teaching puppies to go potty only when they’re outside. One of the most popular and effective ways to do this is crate training. It consists of confining your puppy to a crate that is big enough for them to hang out comfortably, but not big enough to allow them to use a part of it to go to the bathroom. This gradually teaches your puppy to hold their bladder and bowels until they’re let out.

Indoor potty training

For indoor potty training, you can use either potty pads or a puppy litter box as your dog’s potty spot. This method, though not favored as much as the outdoor alternative, is a good option for owners who are not able to go outside frequently. Whether you confine your dog to a specific area using baby gates or let them roam the house freely, this method ensures that your puppy will be able to go whenever they need to, even if it’s in the middle of the night.

Potty training tools and supplies

The tools and supplies you will need to start potty training your puppy will depend on the training method you choose. Some may include:

  • Crate: You can confine your puppy in a dog crate to gradually teach them to hold it while they’re in the crate and indoors.
  • Puppy litter box: This is a common alternative to the popular pee pads.
  • Puppy pads: These provide a designated spot for your puppy to potty on while indoors.
  • Cleaning products: You will need products specifically designed for pets (like enzymatic cleaners) to clean up after your puppy while they learn where the right spot is.
  • Odor eliminating products: These are supposed to help lift any remaining scents wherever your dog has had an accident. This is important to keep them from soiling the same spot.
  • Treats: You can use these to praise your dog for going potty on their designated area and reinforce the behavior.

Negative approaches to potty training

Accidents will happen as a puppy gets the hang of potty training. Your reaction to those accidents could play a big role in how they behave towards pottying as they develop into adulthood.

Scolding, yelling, hitting and any other type of punishment that may instill fear in your puppy might end up causing negative behaviors when it comes to eliminating their waste. They could associate these punishments with the act of pottying itself and not with doing it in the wrong place. As a result, a puppy could grow into an adult dog that hides while defecating and even eats their poop to hide it from you.

When to seek professional help

If your puppy exhibits weird behaviors when it comes to pottying and is having a hard time with their training, you might need to seek veterinary help to see if something is going on. If you rule out any medical condition, then maybe the problem is rooted in separation-anxiety or other behavioral issues and needs to be addressed by a professional dog trainer.

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Puppy potty training FAQs

When should you start puppy potty training?

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You can start potty training once you bring them home, which, in most cases, is around the time they’re eight weeks of age.

Which is the best potty training method for puppies?

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The best training method will vary by case. If you have access to a backyard or the time to regularly take your dog on walks, outside potty training might be the best option for you. Inside training could be more suited to owners who live in an apartment or those who don’t have the time or are physically unable to make frequent trips to a spot outside.

How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

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If you start early and are consistent throughout the potty training process, your puppy could be routinely going to their designated potty area by the time they've reached six months of age.

Summary of Money’s guide on how to potty train a puppy

  • In order for a puppy’s potty training to go smoothly, dog owners need to commit to routines and schedules that require patience.
  • Methods and supplies for potty training puppies will vary according to where their chosen spot is (indoors or outdoors).
  • Owners must be mindful of any negative behaviors towards pottying that they might be reinforcing.
  • How soon a puppy learns where to eliminate will heavily depend on its owner's consistency.
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