Potty Training Tips for Puppies [Complete Guide]

Getting a new puppy is an exciting adventure, but it comes with a lot of dedication and work. Potty training is one of the first things you'll need to address with any indoor dog. Living with your canine friend becomes much easier once you accomplish this task. Start early and stay consistent for the best results. Here are some handy potty-training tips to help you housetrain your pup as quickly as possible.

Set a Schedule

A predictable daily schedule is crucial if you’re a new puppy parent. Puppies need to go outside frequently, with breaks at least every two hours throughout the day. This interval will increase as your dog gets older. There are several key times in the day when you should make sure to take your dog out. 

You should begin and end the day with potty breaks. Most puppies will sleep for at least seven hours, so you shouldn't need to take them out frequently during the night. If your dog does wake you during the night, turn on as few lights as possible and do not engage in any snacks or playtime. This will encourage your puppy to sleep till morning.

Your puppy will need a potty break after meals and after drinking a lot of water. Pay attention to these intervals so you can predict how much time you have between dinner and your pup's need to go out. It should be fairly consistent, but this will vary by breed. Puppies typically need to eat two to three times a day. While they should have regular access to water with food, after walks, and after playtime, you can remove the water bowl about two-and-a-half hours before bed to help your dog sleep through the night.

Take your puppy out immediately after a nap or playtime. If your dog doesn't use the bathroom during the provided potty break, confine them to a crate for 20 or 30 minutes and try again. Reward your pup with free time only after they've gone to the bathroom as an added incentive for them to do so.

Choose a Spot

Pick a designated spot where you want your pet to use the bathroom and return to this area every time you take your dog out. While you may eventually let your dog out into the yard unattended, you should keep your dog on a leash and guide them to the designated spot every time you provide a potty break until they're fully housebroken.

You may also give your dog a command to eliminate, such as "go potty." This helps communicate what you want and will make it easier for you to convey your expectations if you're in an unfamiliar environment and can't visit your usual potty area.

Learn the Signs

Pay close attention to your puppy's behavior when they're loose in the home, so you can quickly identify the signs that they need to go out. If you can't supervise your puppy, it's usually best to leave them in their crate. Dogs will rarely eliminate in the same place where they sleep, so putting your dog in a crate will discourage them from making a mess when you're not available to keep an eye on your pet.

Common signs that your puppy needs to go out include:

  • Walking in circles.
  • Pacing the room.
  • Moving nervously.
  • Trembling.
  • Sniffing the area.
  • Whining or barking.
  • Scratching at the door.
  • Sitting or standing by the door.

If you notice these indicators, take your puppy out to the designated potty spot immediately. Make a note of the time if you can, so you can use these visits to better inform your daily schedule and let you know when you should anticipate potty breaks for your dog.

Respond Promptly

You should always respond as promptly as possible when your pet uses the bathroom, whether they do so in their designated potty area or they make a mess in the house. When your puppy uses the bathroom in the proper area, praise them. You can use treats or verbal praise to reward your pup. You may also use this opportunity to introduce a clicker. 

When you first use a clicker, you should accompany it with a treat. Over time, your dog will learn to recognize the sound of the clicker as a reward, so you can promptly and easily praise good behavior, even when you don't have treats in your pocket.

If your pup makes a mess in the house, immediately take them outside to their designated potty area, even if they don't need to go anymore. This will help your pup associate the act of using the bathroom with a designated potty area. Don't yell or aggressively scold your pet for making a mess, as this can make them fearful of going to the bathroom. 

Do clean up the mess quickly so your pet doesn't associate that area with using the bathroom. Puppies will continue to use any area that smells like urine or feces. Use a special cleaning product designed for pets to eliminate the odor properly.

Get Advice From Your Vet

Your vet is the best available resource for potty training your puppy. Every pup is a little different, and your veterinarian can help you understand the unique differences that you’ll find with your dog. The vet can provide more precise guidelines on timing and training methods based on your puppy's age, breed, and health. If you're having trouble potty training your puppy, always seek medical advice, as there could be an underlying issue, such as a bladder infection, that's making it difficult for your pet to respond to housetraining properly.

At Sploot Veterinary Care, we offer both primary (preventive) and urgent care for pets, including covering topics like generalized potty training advice. You can easily check online for our next available appointment (with same or next day availability) or book an appointment through the Sploot Vets app — we're open 10am - 10pm, 365 days a year (including holidays).

Image by Tim Umphreys is licensed with Unsplash License

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