Potty Train Your Puppy

There are several ways to housebreak a puppy. A pivotal principle is to "Praise" your puppy when things go right.

If the weather permits, put your puppy's food and water pans outside. Only give food and water outside. (This will hopefully cause your puppy to go potty outside after drinking and eating.) They usually eliminate anywhere from 1 - 15 minutes after eating.

If you are feeding your puppy inside: As soon as your puppy is finished eating take he or she out to the area where you want them to go potty. Let them sniff the ground, find a spot and go potty. It's best to only say "Go Potty" and then be quiet and let them do their business. Praise them for doing a good job.

Watch and determine the pre-potty pattern. Do not let your puppy back into the house unless you know your baby has went potty, even if it takes several hours. When you do let your puppy come back into the house, watch them like a hawk. When you know you are not going to be able to watch your baby, then don't let them in at that time.

Words you need to know:

Okay: Here we go:


Accidents Happen. There are upsets in schedules changes in food products, changes in the weather, a new dog your house, a baby in your family, or even an illness may contribute to a temporary lapse in your housetraining efforts. Back up, and give your puppy more structure; confinement to a safe zone if necessary and definitely more supervision. Help your baby be successful!

If you leave your puppy outside alone, how will you know if he or she has completed the hoped for, assigned tasks, or whether or not your puppy was distracted by a butterfly or someone through the fence? Many young puppies do not understand why they are outside or maybe they are distraught about being separated from their pack leader. They may spend the entire time outside just sitting on the porch waiting for you to let them back in. It's unlikely that your puppy will want to ask you to go outside if it has been a negative experience to be separated from you and the security of their human family.

If your puppy does have an accident in the house, you must be watching and catch them in the act and say "NO" sternly, pick them up, push their tail down, and take them outside saying "NO" the whole way. They must be caught in the act! You will need to repeat this schedule of them being outside with you, a lot for a week or two. You really need to let them know you mean business and this is how life with their new, loving family pack works. Your puppy loves you and wants to please you.

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There may be times when when you can not watch your Puppy and you will need to confine them.

(See "Crate Training", "Safe Zone" and "Alternate Potty Training Methods".)

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Crate Training

Puppies and dogs have an instinct to not foul their living quarters. So when your puppy wakes up from a nap in their crate and needs to go potty: he or she will yell, yip or whine to get your attention. What your puppy is telling you is that they want to get out so that they can go do their business. If at all possible, wait for a break in the crying before opening the door, even if it is a break for only 10 seconds, so your puppy doesn't think you are rewarding the crying with attention. Therefore, it is imperative to take your puppy potty before they go into their crate and wake your puppy up and take them potty every 3 - 4 hours on the first few nights. At this point you should take your puppy to wherever it is that you are training he or she to go potty and stand there with them until they do their job and give them praise: "Good Boy" or "Good Girl". If it is night time and you are going back to sleep, they can then go back into their crate until you are ready to take them out again.

New puppies can only hold their bladder comfortably about 3 or maybe 4 hours at a stretch without having an accident. The time increases with as they get older. Make sure they go potty before going into their crate at night and pick up all food and water at least 3 - 4 hours before bedtime. At night, get up every 2 - 3 hours and take them outside to go potty at first. The time increases as they get older. During the night, if your puppy seems to be stirring around at all, get up and take he or she outside immediately. Your puppy doesn’t want to piddle on their own bed. This is their way of trying to figure out how and where to go potty. Take them to their potty place, let them do their business where you want them to and you praise them.

With new puppies, it is always best to carry them outside to avoid any accidents between their crate and the door. Once they have emptied their bladder, bring the little tyke straight back inside to the crate. If your sweetheart begins to fuss again, issue the "QUIET" or "NO NOISE" command and be consistent. In no time at all you have a house broken puppy that doesn't whine in their crate!

As your puppy gets the idea that the backyard is the place to do their elimination routine, you will find that your puppy won’t have to be confined to the crate as often. They will soon go to the door and tell you in some doggy way that they need to heed the call of nature. You must be observant and learn their body language and pre-potty pattern. Some puppies will pace around looking uncomfortable, some will whine, sniff the floor or scratch at the door. When you are vigilant, you will get to the door and let them out before they have an accident on the floor or in front of the door. Every time you let an accident happen, you have suffered a setback in your house-breaking campaign. It teaches them that "in the house" is an acceptable place to potty.

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Go Potty Hand Signal

Once you arrive at the spot you where want your puppy to go potty you give your puppy the hand signal

(Make a fist and put your thumb between first two fingers and rock your fist back and forth or move your hand in a circle as your arm is pointing to a spot on the ground where you want your puppy to go potty.) The most important thing is to give the same sign or signal each time.

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Praise and More Praise

When you see the signs of an impending potty-puddle, react very quickly. React before your puppy has the chance to squat and do their business. Ask your puppy in an excited voice, "Outside?" and give them your "Outside Hand Signal". Snatch them up, holding their tail down and physically carry them if you are able. If you can not carry your puppy, then lead the way to the door, continuing to ask them "Outside?" and give them your hand signal for outside. Praise them for following you. Once outside, stay with your puppy until you witness the desired results and praise he or she as they go potty. "Good Boy", "Good Girl" or Good Potty". Praising should make your puppy feel that they are the most special dog to you in the whole world.


Try not to get mad or mentally irritated. When you catch your puppy in the act: quickly and calmly pick them up and very sternly say "No". Carry them outside or to the yard to the place where you want them to eliminate. Place them on the ground and say: "Go Potty". It will help if push their tail down while you are carrying them, as this will often help to stop the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement at that time.

If you didn't go outside with your puppy and see to it that he or she went potty, then when your puppy comes back inside and has an accident, it was your fault for not watching your puppy closely enough!

Rubbing your puppy's nose in their potty, scolding or hitting will only teach your baby to avoid you when they feel the need to empty their bladder or bowels, rather than come and find you to help them. Correcting before your puppy learns how to ask only teaches your puppy to sneak off down the hall and do their business where you can't see them.

Safe Zone

This is when they will need to go into their doggie run, crate, kennel, small puppy proofed room, or whatever the safe, confined area you have arranged for your little pooch. If possible, do not feed or water in the house and keep watching for a pre potty pattern. At any given time, after 45 minutes to an hour maximum of being in the house playing, running, sleeping, or whatever they are doing, you need to let them outside and lead them to where you want them to go potty, and don't let them in again until you see them empty their bladder or bowels outside, even if it takes several hours, although it will probably take place in moments after their paws touch the ground, especially if it's cold or rainy outside.

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Take your puppy out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and many times in between. Feed and exercise your baby on a regular schedule. Take note of how soon your puppy needs to go potty after he or she eats and/or drinks water. Most puppies will need to go out soon after eating, after napping, after drinking water, after chewing on a bone, and after exercising. If you can anticipate when he or she needs to go and hustle him to the appropriate spot at the first sign, you'll avoid most accidents.

Do not put your baby outside to go potty by themselves. Stay with your puppy and give your verbal praise and hand signals. If you don't stay, you'll miss the give your hand signals, the chance to give verbally praise, and the chance to name the behavior: "Go Potty". Generally, "Outside" is where your pooch needs to go, "Go potty", "Find a tree", or, "Do your business" (call it what you like) is what your puppy needs to do once he or she gets to your predetermined potty spot. When you stay with your puppy, you also will know for a fact that both duties were accomplished, so you can come back into the house with confidence.

Spontaneous or Submissive Urination

Occasionally a younger puppydog may spontaneously urinate a little bit when they are excited. This may be when they first see you, at the meeting of a new dog or when they are frightened. It is often referred to as submissive or excitement urination. Do not discipline your puppydog for this, as it is something they cannot control. Simply ignore it and clean up the mess. If you don’t overreact, they will usually outgrow this between 4 and 7 months of age.

Later down the road when you are out walking with your canine buddy you can then walk them to a specific area and tell them to "Go Potty" or give them your "Go Potty" hand signal, and they will go for you. This avoids a male dog's thinking every neighbors trash can or mail box is where he needs to cock his leg.

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Verbal Cues

These Verbal Commands or Cues will help your puppy to know what is desired of them. It’s an excellent idea to always use the same routine and words when it’s time to head to the bathroom. Whenever you use a verbal command or signal, it’s very important that everybody in your house always uses the same word in the same way every time. Think of the word "Out?" or "Outside?" in this situation not only as a question you’re asking your puppy, but also as an indication that you want to go out or outside. Some puppies will get into the habit of going to the door when they want to go outside. Polite "Door Training" needs to be taught, but sometimes you need to get them outside much more quickly than practicing door training at the same time you are potty training.

Most people find that it is better to use verbal commands to initiate this sort of going to the door activity rather than waiting for your puppy to learn this behavior on their own. Most of the time your consistent use of a word like "Out?" or "Outside?" will cause your puppy to come to you rather than the door when he or she needs to go outside. Your little friend more readily sees you as part of the overall activity of getting he or she to where they need to go, so it is best, if you are able, to physically carry them outside as you say the word you are going to use.

Once outside try to get on with the act of going potty right away. Use the phrase "Go Potty" or whatever you plan to call it. As soon as they eliminate, it is very important to praise then with a "Good Potty", "Good Girl" or "Good Boy" and then come back inside immediately. You want to make sure that they learn that the word "Potty" means no playing around right now, go potty. Repetitiously using words like: "go potty" or "potty" when you take them to the elimination area will help your sweety to learn that when you say "go potty" or "potty" they need to eliminate in that area.

Watch your puppy

The key to successful potty training is supervision or watching your puppy constantly. The first necessity is to identify what your puppy does right before he or she eliminates. This is your puppy's pre-potty pattern. Does your puppy sniff the floor or carpet? Does your puppy walk or run around in a circle or back and forth? Does your puppy hold his or her ears in a certain position? Does your puppy whine and nudge you with their nose? Each puppy has their own signal or sign. Some puppies provide signals that are easy for you to spot, while others are more difficult to determine. Watch your puppy like a hawk.


Occasionally a young puppydog will whine after you have taken them potty and have put them back into their crate in the middle of the night. If they have went potty, then you know they do not have to go and they are only whining because they want to be held, miss their littermates, are cold, or want to play with you. As long as your house is warm, you know they are not cold, so to help them understand that this is sleep time, you have two options: ignore the whining, do not go to them and go back to sleep, or if their crate is close enough to your bed: put your fingers through the door of the crate and stroke their little face or head for comfort and go back to sleep.

Some folks like to play real mellow, soft music to comfort little ones at night. A good bone, a chew toy, and an extra thick padding is nice to keep in their kennel with them.

You can also place into your young puppy's kennel a very warm, hot water bottle (wrapped up in a blanket so they can not chew on it), yet they can absorb the heat that radiates from it. It can also radiate cold when the heat wears off, so be sure to take it out in the morning. There is also a commercially made "Bucky Type" of bed warmer for puppydogs. It is made with buckwheat or wheat berries inside and you can place it in the microwave, heat it up just a little, place it into the kennel with your little friend, and he or she not only absorbs the heat, but they derive comfort as if they are snuggling up next to a litter mate. There are also electric warming pads that have washable covers.

Now if you are planning on letting your full grown dog sleep in your bed later down the road, then plopping your young little tyke right down beside your pillow will usually take care of all whining, just don't sleep too heavy when they start to wander in circles on your bed looking for the perfect potty spot in the middle of the night.

You must establish the proper pattern. When you keep watching and really stick with them, you will wind up with great, permanent success in short order. You simply need to establish the proper potty pattern for them, take the lead, and direct them to where they need to deposit their wastes. Your dog will become everything you want them to be. Occasionally, you may have to let your baby puppy spend time by themselves on the back porch for a while.

Here are Alternative Potty Training Methods

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