Potty Training Your Puppy

potty training puppy

Potty training your puppy – probably the #1 training goal in the first few weeks and months after adopting your new family member. A house-trained puppy will know where it is ok to go to the bathroom (outside) and to hold his bladder inside.

In potty training we combine management (setting up a situation/environment that naturally limits unwanted behaviors) with actual training (changing/creating a behavior on the long term).
(In Don’t Distract Your Anxious Dog you can read more about the difference between those two, and their applications in other areas of dog ownership.)

Setting up situations that limit your dog from rehearsing the unwanted behavior will make it much easier to train your dog to do the right thing.

Why Does My Puppy Have Accidents?

Let’s start at the beginning. Dogs are naturally clean animals that tend to not want to relieve themselves in what they consider their living quarters.

When puppies are first born, their mother clean them up every time they relieve themselves and keeps their whelping box squeaky clean. She teaches your puppy early on that cleanliness is a part of life. Later, as they slowly learn to walk many breeders keep a litterbox with wood shavings in their puppy pen so that they can do their business in there.

This is where it gets tricky: Young puppies are actually pretty good at using the right potty area in a small space. They are however not very good at understanding that your whole house does not contain a place to go.

No Bathrooms Inside

Until your puppy moves in with you, his whole life has been restricted to a rather small area. Absolutely no breeder or rescue worker lets a litter of puppies have the run of the house – they would destroy it very quickly.

Now that you adopted the puppy, he probably has a multitude of the space he used to have. He does not understand how there can possibly not be a bathroom space in all these rooms and hallways in your house. He will probably make an effort to pick a quiet spot that is not very frequented by the family, such as a corner in your office, and decide that this is where he will go to the bathroom.

Potty Training In 4 Steps

Bring Your Puppy Outside (Training)

It is not enough to open the door to the yard or install a doggy door and hope that your puppy will go outside to do his business in the beginning.

If you do not see what he is actually doing, you cannot be sure that he urinated – if you stay inside it can also happen that your puppy only “squeezes out a few drops” because he wants to get  back in and be with you fast.

The best way to ensure your puppy empties his whole bladder is to go with him and wait until he is done. Then you can also give him a treat or play with him as positive reinforcement.

These potty breaks need to happen very, very frequently in the beginning.

Take Him Out At Certain Times (Training)

For a 2 months old puppy I recommend taking him out after waking up, after eating, after playing, and every waking 20min regardless of the activity. At that age he cannot yet g