How To Potty Train a Puppy or Adult Dog: A Comprehensive Guide to Successful Potty Training of Puppies

Key Points

  • An important puppy housetraining tool that can make your life easier is crated.
  • A temporary solution to housetraining is puppy pads and paper training.
  • In housetraining, consistency, attention, understanding, and patience is all key.

One of the most important first steps you can take for a long, happy life together is learning how to potty train puppies at the appropriate time and place. One of the most common reasons for dogs losing their homes or ending up in shelters is house soiling. Few people are willing to put up with a dog that destroys rugs and flooring and leaves a stinky mess to clean up after a long day at work.

That’s why it’s important to conduct preliminary research on how to house train a dog, determine what will work best for your situation, and formulate a strategy.

According to Mary Burch, Ph.D., director of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy programs, there are tried-and-true methods for training your puppy. Among them are:

  • Training in crates
  • Practice with paper
  • Potty training indoors

Outside walks are also beneficial.

According to Dr. Burch, each has advantages and disadvantages, but they can all be successful if you follow a few basic guidelines, such as:

  • Keeping tabs on your dog’s diet
  • Maintaining a consistent schedule for trips outside, feeding, and exercise.
  • Getting regular exercise—aids motility.
  • Reinforcing your puppy’s willingness to “go” outside
  • Available potty training supplies

Let’s take a closer look at some of these ideas.

Crates are a popular potty training tool.

Many people who are new to dogs are uncomfortable with the idea of confining their puppies in crates, but this aversion usually fades after a few days of living with a new pet. Crates for dogs make life easier. For a variety of reasons, such as vet visits, travel, convalescence, and safety, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to one.

Dogs are den animals, and whether you provide one or not, they will seek out a small canine cave for security. This makes teaching your dog to love her crate relatively easy.

The idea behind using a crate for housetraining is that dogs are extremely clean creatures who don’t appreciate having a urine-soaked rug in their living spaces any more than you do. It’s important that the crate is just big enough for the dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around in. If it’s too big, the dog will think it’s fine to eliminate one corner and then happily settle down away from the mess. Many crates have partitions that can be adjusted as your puppy grows.

The puppy will usually let you know when she has an urge by whining and scratching. That’s her signal that she needs to get out of her tiny den. Now! Don’t wait, because allowing your dog to lose control in her crate will teach her that it’s acceptable to destroy her living space. Then she’ll have no qualms about leaving little packages all over your neighborhood.


Paper Training and Puppy Pads

Using puppy pads and paper training, according to Dr. Burch, can be “tricky because you’re reinforcing two different options for the puppy.” In an ideal world, puppies would learn to hold it indoors and only eliminate it in designated areas outside. However, some situations may necessitate some creative thinking, such as a person with a job that makes them return home several times a day or a tiny dog living in an impossible winter climate. Puppy pads allow a dog to relieve herself in a designated area at home. Indoor dog bathrooms that work for both male and female dogs are also available. After the dog has grown up, the owner can work on having her do her business outside all of the time.

Make a schedule for your puppy’s housetraining.

It is critical to the success of housetraining. Water runs right through the tiny bladders of puppies. Solid matter is the same way. You must make sure that your puppy has ample opportunities to do the right thing.

Dogs can control their bladders for the number of hours corresponding to their age in months, up to about nine months to a year, according to a good guide. (Keep in mind, however, that anyone can hold it for 10 to 12 hours!) A 6-month-old pup should be able to hold it for about 6 hours. Always keep in mind that each puppy is unique, so the timing will vary.

When creating a schedule, keep track of daily events and your puppy’s habits. You should expect to take your puppy out when it is very young:

  • When you wake up in the morning,
  • Last thing in the evening
  • After an indoor game
  • After a time of crates
  • When you wake up from a nap,
  • After you’ve chewed on a toy or a bone
  • After a meal
  • After consuming alcohol

In a 24-hour period, you could be running to the piddle pad, backyard, or street a dozen times or more. If you work, make some kind of arrangement to keep that schedule (bring your dog to work or hire a dog walker). You’ll be able to put this messy chapter behind you faster if you can convey the idea that there is an approved place to potty and that some places are off-limits.

Supervision and observation

You must pay close attention to your puppy’s signals and rhythms. Some puppies might be able to hold it for a longer period of time than others. Some people will have to leave the time whenever they play or get excited. Some people will stop in the middle of a game to pee and then continue playing. Canine potty habits, like those of human babies, are highly individual.

Dietary Control

Puppies’ digestive systems are still developing, so they can’t handle a lot of food. As a result, it’s best to divide the puppy’s feeding schedule into three small meals. Another consideration is the food, which should be of the highest possible quality. Make sure whatever you choose is acceptable to your puppy.

The best way for a dog owner to determine whether it’s time for a diet change is to examine the dog’s stool. If your puppy’s stools are consistently bulky, loose, and stinky, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian about switching to different food. Overfeeding can also cause diarrhea, which will make housetraining even more difficult.



Scolding a puppy for soiling your rug, especially after it’s happened, will only make her think you’re crazy. Similarly, some old punishment methods, such as rubbing a dog’s nose in her poop, are so bizarre that it’s difficult to imagine how they came to be or if they ever worked for anyone. Praise a puppy for doing the right thing. On the other hand, praise works best for everything you will do together in your life. Every time she does this simple, natural act, it makes her think she’s a little canine Einstein. Cheer, clap and throw cookies to show your appreciation. Let her know that no other achievement has ever been as important as this pee—not going to the moon, splitting the atom, or inventing coffee. Give your pup one of his favorite treats as a reward. Make sure they’re small and easy to digest for your puppy.

Dr. Burch advises that if your dog has an accident, you should not make a big deal about it; instead, simply clean up the mess. The scent will be removed with a cleaner that also kills odors, so the dog will not use it again. Before cleaning the rug, blot up any liquid on the carpet.

If you notice your dog squatting to urinate or defecate, pick her up and rush her outside. Give her praise and attention if she does the job outside. When it comes to housetraining, remember that prevention is key.

Problems with housetraining

Following these guidelines will almost always result in a well-behaved puppy. But things don’t always go as planned.

House soiling can be a sign of a physical problem, according to Dr. Burch. “A dog who has seemed impossible to housetrain should have a good veterinary workup well before the several-month mark,” she says. If your dog is healthy, the next step is to find a trainer or behaviorist who has dealt with similar situations before.

Here are some of the most common complaints trainers have heard:

  • “My lapdog has pooped all over the place!” People who own toy dogs frequently experience this. Some trainers recommend teaching small dogs to use indoor potty spots similar to how cats use litter boxes. In addition to piddle pads, indoor dog potty boxes are available. Other trainers claim that you can house train a small dog if you are consistent. It might just take a little more time, though, and effort.
  • “My dog keeps peeing in the same spot where she had an accident,” says the owner. That’s most likely because you didn’t clean up the mess thoroughly, and there’s still some odor, indicating that this is a good potty spot. Make sure you have plenty of pet stain enzymatic cleaners in your new puppy supply kit and read the instructions carefully.
  • “I let her have free reign of the apartment. There was shambles when I got home. ” This is a common error made by dog owners. They see early signs that the dog is grasping the idea and declare victory prematurely. Keep to the schedule even if the puppy is consistently doing what you want. This will ensure that good habits are ingrained.
  • “He’s defecating in his crate!” Dogs that come from pet stores, shelters or other situations where they have been confined for long periods of time and have had no choice but to eliminate in their kennels will frequently soil their crates, according to Dr. Burch. Going back to square one with crate and house training is the best approach. The steps are as follows:
  1.  Assess your dog’s bladder and bowel control when he is not in the crate.
  2. Keeping a strict diet and schedule.
  3. Include frequent trips outside after each meal, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night.
  4. If you work, think about hiring a dog walker.
  5. Clean everything thoroughly so that no odors remain.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train A Puppy?

According to Dr. Burch, this can vary greatly. Many factors must be considered, including your age, learning history, and methods and consistency. The development of an 8-week-old puppy differs significantly from that of a 5-month-old puppy. Some puppies have perfect manners after only a few days. Others can take months, especially if the dog comes to you from a less-than-ideal situation. Most dogs, however, can learn with patience and persistence.


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