Potty Training 101 for Puppies

Potty Training a Puppy

Chocolate-Labordor potty trained

You just got a new puppy and now the puppy is using the bathroom all over the place in need of potty training. The anger, frustration, and cost for paper towels is getting overwhelming.

Reading this article will do three things to how you think about potty training.

The first thing is make you accountable for not having the dog outside.The second is how to deal with accidents that will happen. Last but not least is the schedule.

Once you master those three potty training will be a breeze. Also, most of the questions you will most likely ask will be covered.

After reading this post you won’t have any more issues. There are very few dogs who just can’t be trained.


If your dog used the bathroom inside stop blaming the dog. Saying “they did it on purpose.”

We can pretend the dog is an accessory to the crime all we want.

You violated one of Trainyourowndogs principles. If your dog isn’t housebroken how was he unattended? Everything should be supervised until proven that it doesn’t need supervision


This is one of the craziest things you will ever see as a dog trainer. Knowing how dogs communicate verbal connections (growling) and the timing of it makes it harder to understand.

This is the one area where I don’t correct my dog at all. If the dog uses the bathroom I blame myself for not having them outside and for not watching them.

Potty Training Schedule

Do you have to keep a schedule? No! What is more important is understand is how many times a day to get them out. What the dog does when they are ready to use the bathroom is important.

Dogs need to go out 4 times a day for adults. Puppies you need to get them out more often. The reason is because they have a small bladder and can’t hold their pee for longer than 3 hours.

Best times to take them out is every time they wake up, after they eat, and after playing time. If you follow this golden rule you will have a house trained pup in no time.

If they have to use the bathroom at 7 a.m. but you don’t take them out until 7:15 doesn’t make sense.

You should learn the body language and behavior when a dog is going to use the bathroom.

Potty Training Body Language

Let’s take an old school approach here. When the dog’s tail is up and the dog is sniffing is your indication to get them outside right now.

The longer you wait the worst it is going to be. Once the dog is sniffing around and walking out of the current room it is in you can bet that there will be a wet spot in the carpet. And an angry dog owner.

Take advantage of these small but fundamental signs that will make the difference. Remember the more the use it outside the more they will use it outside.

Once you turn your house into a 2,000 sq ft bathroom area for the dog it can be difficult or more work to train it out of them.

Crate Potty Training

A crate can be fantastic addition to your potty training efforts. Let’s keep in mind that you should set the puppy up for success. Here’s how you do it.

The size of the cage must be big enough that isn’t uncomfortable but small enough so that the is no bathroom area.

If you find a cage that’s a size where the dog doesn’t want to use the bathroom in it you have won a huge battle.

Zak George did a great job of explaining this in his video

Next, exercise the dog! If you need to leave them for extended periods of time make sure you get them 45 minutes to an hour of exercise.

That makes sure that the dog is sleep for the time you are gone. Decreases whining inside the cage. Best of all it makes the cage a relaxation, recovery, or resting area instead of a jail cell.

This has another great benefit. When the dog is up and standing up it’s unusual. Now they have to go to the bathroom.

You just killed three birds with one stone. Established a great relationship with the crate, built predictable behavior, and made it obvious when the dog needs a break.

Puppy Pads

Most people throw the pad inside a cage,  make sure it covers the whole floor, and feel accomplished. I have done it so i know the feeling. Here’s what to do instead.

Wait until your puppy wakes up from a nap. Put a leash on the puppy you’re potty training and take them to puppy pad. Instead of to the bathroom take them to the puppy pad.

After they eat take them to the pad. Leash attached walk them over let them sniff it and get on top of the pad.

Positive reinforcement can have benefits when the dog uses it on the pads. So praise the dog or give them a piece of steak do whatever you can to make this a habit quickly.

After play time do the same thing.

When you see the body language of tail up and sniffing around. Suddenly leaving the room and other behavior you think has bathroom potential take them to the pad.

Use the leash until the puppy starts to get on the pad or look for it when they have to use the bathroom. Pad training will be a breeze by following these directions.

Puppy Playpen

You have three jobs to do with the playpen.

  1. Bring them after they exercise
  2. After they use the bathroom
  3. Supervise the whole time

Kind of defeats the purpose if a playpen right? No way! You have to train first and when the dog understands what’s expected you expand responsibility.

After they exercise similar to the crate training they will be asleep or laying down while playing with toys.

Once they use the bathroom and are all empty. Put them inside for 20 to 30 minutes. This will set them up for success and make sure they are in the best position to not use the bathroom

Supervise your puppy! Be there the whole time. When something looks fishy grab them and take them outside or to the puppy pad.

How long does it take to potty train a puppy

That’s up to you as the owner. If you take them out when you are supposed to and supervise them you will not experience any issues.

I’ve had puppies where I took them out often and if I couldn’t watch them I put them in the backyard. Never used the bathroom in the house other than a few times.

Let’s say you are inconsistent or  taking them out twice a day it will take much longer.  Letting them wander off, waking up, eating and drinking water without bathroom breaks you may never train them.

The quicker you want them trained the quicker you need to be consistent.

At what age should they be fully potty trained?

The day a dog enters your house you need to be fully engaged. There is no evidence of any kind that waiting is beneficial for the dog.

There is evidence of only one thing regarding the waiting period. You will not benefit from waiting to potty train your dog and that’s all we know at this time.

When should a puppy be able to control bladder

As they get older they will have an increase in their capacity to hold it longer. A 4 month puppy has a great ability to wait until you let them out.

Don’t take advantage of this. Take them out 4 times a day if possible when they get older.

We recommend two dog walks or runs so you can take them out twice after they’re out twice.

Can you housebreaking a puppy at 8 weeks

Get the dog and train the dog on everything. Don’t beat around the bush. If you want then use the doggie door that might take time.

Why would you wait to take them outside on time and supervise them at all times until they don’t need the supervision?

Most of the time the dog needs little training but the owner needs a lot of training. Don’t wait to get them outside 5 to 8 times as a pup and decrease it to 4 times as needed.

If you are waiting for anything I don’t understand what you’re waiting for in this scenario.

Can a puppy hold it all night?

Yes! A puppy can hold it all night with no problem. If they’re experiencing problems with getting up give this method a try.

Take them outside and give them a nice 30 minute run. Get them tire and exhausted. Bring them home and put them in the room or the bed.

Comment below and let me know if they woke up at all! Take them to the bathroom as soon as they get up.

How to potty train a puppy to go outside in certain areas?

I love this question. There are  two things you need to do here. The first is to take them out like we discussed on this post.  And the second is to keep a leash on them at all times

If you want them to use the bathroom on the right side of the house then make sure they use the bathroom on the right side of the house.

Take away all other options and make sure the only option is where you want them to use it.

Put the Leash on the dog take them outside. Our example is on the right side. So we will go to the right side and let them use the bathroom.

Once the dog is getting the hang of it and his behavior indicates that he knows what the plan is here is what to do.

Put the leash on him and take him out. Now release the leash and let him use the bathroom. You can do this in two ways.

If you’re comfortable take it all the way off. If you think the dog may try something like running around drop the leash with it still connected.

Make sure it’s not your favorite leash it may become a casualty of pee or poop.

Additional Resources