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Training Tips: Potty Training 101


Nothing can be more frustrating than potty training a puppy or adult dog. However, there are ways to make this process easier on you and your pets. Potty training your dog is one of the most important things you can do.


Keep your dog or puppy confined, controlled and contained at all times during this critical period. That means you should keep them on leash, in a crate, in an exercise pen, or within your immediate supervision and control). You will have to treat your new puppy/rescue dog like an 18 mos old toddler for a few weeks until your pet is fully trained. They should always be safely contained or within your control.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]In The Morning[/heading]

1. Wait until your pup calms down before taking him from the crate or pen. Calmly slip the leash on (note that it is best to use a harness in order to avoid tugging on his neck).

2. Quickly take your pet to the designated toilet area or out for a walk (this can be a separately fenced area if you like).

3. Stand with the puppy in designated area,or just outside anywhere, on leash and wait. Don’t talk, look or touch the puppy.

4. Wait until he FINISHES peeing. Then you’re free to get very excited, put the treat right in front of his nose and let him eat it. At the same time say “potty outside” or your choice of word for this command.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Going #2[/heading]

He should need to poop too. You’ll probably need to get him moving around and then he will poop. Keep him leashed. Once he poops, get very excited again and praise and treat well for about 3 seconds. No longer than that, he’ll have forgotten what the praise is for by that time.


If you take your puppy for a walk outside the house, around the neighborhood, first thing in the morning then you should still reward all pee and poop action.

What if he doesn’t need to go?

If he doesn’t do anything, take him back inside and just put him back in his crate/pen. No reprimands, scolding or bad tones.

Wait 15 minutes and take him out again. He should perform then. Follow with praise and treat.

Feed breakfast. Take him outside within 10 minutes of eating. This varies from puppy to puppy, you’ll soon find out how long it takes for it to “go in one end and come out the other”!

Keep a log during the day of all pees and poops. This will make it really easy for you to know in a few days if he’s ‘due’ or ‘overdue’ to go potty.

During the day:

Take him out every couple of hours (always on leash) at least and certainly after any of the following:

  • After…
    • playing
    • sleeping
    • eating/drinking
    • after getting excited e.g. visitors arrive
    • After being in the crate for more than a few minutes – e.g. if you’ve been away from the house
  • If you see him suddenly stop and start sniffing the ground and/or circling
  • If he starts to have an accident, quickly and quietly take him outside and reward him when he finishes what he started.
  • If for any reason he has an accident in the house DO NOT YELL, SMACK, REPRIMAND or PUNISH in any way!! This is vitally important. It won’t help anything. See “Important Notes” below for more on this.

Be sure to clean up any accidents in the house using Natures Miracle, or other enzymatic cleaner and do not let the puppy see you do it. This would just make it one big game for him!

In the evening:

  • Restrict puppy’s access to water an hour before bed time.
  • Take puppy out for toilet break last thing before bed.
  • No food or water in the crate during the night

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Feeding[/heading]

Feed puppy on a regular schedule – NO FREE FEEDING (i.e. leaving food out all day for him to “graze” on)! If you ‘free feed’ you’ll never know when he needs to pee & poop. If you must rely on feeding when you’re not home, consider a 6 Meal LCD Automatic Pet Feeder .

Use a high quality dog food – less stool, less chance of poop eating because he gets more nutrition from the food and the poop is not tasty when it comes out the other end!

Use feeding devices such as Treat Ball Dog Toy or Brake-Fast Bowl bowl to slow down eating speed and aid better digestion. (Also see this article on 10 Ways to Avoid Bloat in Dogs for additional suggestions)

Consider a Bell: You could start to teach him to use a Tell-Bell or PoochieBells. Dogs are easily trained to ask you to open the door for them.

Consider a Doggie Door: Doggie doors have come a long way in the last few years and there are wonderful doors that are secure and easily installed. Most operate on “smart collars” or microchips so that only one dog can get in or out at any given time. Consider adding a SureFlap Microchip Pet Door patio dog door or SmartDoor wall dog door into your home so your pets can let themselves in and out.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Important Notes[/heading]

The reason for keeping the puppy on leash all the time when you go outside is so that you can be right there to reward him at the very moment he finishes doing his pottying. If you let him roam around the yard loose then you can’t possibly be right there at the moment he finishes to reward him.

For example, if you are standing at the back door and puppy goes potty on the other side of the yard and you shout “yes, good potty outside” and he comes running over to you and you give him a treat, you’ve actually given him a treat for coming running over to you NOT for going potty outside!

You can let him play and run around in the yard after he’s potty’d but keep the leash on so that you can catch him whenever you might need to – don’t want to end up chasing him!

The reason why you should not scold your puppy for any accidents is that all he will learn is that you don’t want him to pee/poop in that particular spot – so he will continue to try and discover where exactly you DO want him to do it!

Scolding the dog will also potentially make him scared of you which will impact other behavioral patterns.

If at any time your puppy or dog seems to go backwards in their potty training you should consider the possibility of a urinary tract infection, or some other health issue, and contact your veterinarian promptly. Puppies are very prone to bladder infections!

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