Ask The Trainer: How to Potty Train a New Puppy

Potty training a puppy doesn't need to be frustrating! Follow these simple tips.

House training is at the top of the list when you bring home a new puppy or dog. It can also be one the more frustrating aspects of dog training. Some puppies just don’t learn very quickly that they shouldn’t use your floors as their own personal potty. But if you adhere to the two rules of house training your pup will soon learn the proper place to relieve himself.

Rule #1: Prevent accidents. Supervise your puppy in the house. Use a confinement area or leash your puppy to you when you are not sure if your puppy is empty.

Rule #2: Reward your puppy for going outside. Praise at the right moment (when he starts ‘going’) and reward with treats the moment he finishes.

Preventing Accidents

People often make the mistake of giving a new puppy too much freedom too soon. Use a long-term confinement area, such as a single room with an easy-to-clean floor (kitchen, laundry room, etc.) when you will be gone longer than your dog can hold it. Furnish it with:

  • A potty pad or litter box
  • Your puppy’s crate (with door open)
  • Water and food bowels
  • Chew toys and stuffed Kongs

Use short-term confinement (his crate or leashed to you) when you are home but cannot devote undivided attention to your dog.

Fabulous Rewards Get Fabulous Results

Take your puppy outside on leash every 60 minutes (don’t wait for a signal). Take him to the same potty area every time. When you see him squat begin praising him. Offer him some fabulous treats when he is finished. If you are in a puppy-safe place, let him off the leash for a little playtime.

If he doesn’t go within 5 minutes, take him back inside and put him in his crate (with a chew toy or stuffed Kong) or leash him to you for 10-20 minutes, then try again. For every 3 days of no accidents, increase the time between potty breaks by 15 minutes.

Puppy House Training Checklist

Take your puppy to his potty place first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, shortly after meals, naps, or play sessions, when he comes out of his crate, and generally every hour or so.

Until your puppy is perfectly house trained, always go outside with him so you can cheer and reward at the right moment.
Supervise whenever your puppy is not crated. If you must take your eyes off him, even for a minute, crate him or leash him to you.
If you see your puppy sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.

Handling Puppy House Training Mistakes

Interrupt mistakes as they are happening. After interrupting your puppy, hustle him outside to the potty area. Praise if he finishes there. Clean up the indoor mess with an enzymatic cleaner to remove protein residue that might attract him to the same place again.

Never punish. If your puppy made the mistake one hour or five seconds ago, you are too late. Don’t rub his nose in his own mess or smack him, this will simply make him afraid of you, and he won’t understand why you do it. You must catch him in the act for the interruption to work, and again, you can’t do it too harshly or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you, even when you are outside!

Puppy Troubleshooting

If your puppy potties in the house, take a newspaper, roll it up, and hit……
yourself over the head – because you weren’t paying enough attention to your dog!

Still having trouble or do you have more questions about your dog’s training or behavior? ‘Ask the Trainer’ by contacting Dentler’s Dog Training – [email protected] or 610-505-0123.

Jeff Dentler is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of Dentler’s Dog Training in Pottstown, PA. For more information and to sign-up for his newsletter, visit the Dentler’s Dog Training website. For daily tips on training, exercise, health, and nutrition please become a fan on Facebook.