You brought home your new puppy, took him outside to show him where to go potty and he sniffs, plays, everything but doesn’t potty. So you take him inside and he squats and pees! Well, all I can say is welcome to puppyhood 🙂 Potty accidents are part of adopting a puppy so potty training him will likely be your number one priority.
Potty training is a lot of work, it takes a lot of patience, but obviously very necessary.
We only fostered a young puppy one time, in fact, we took in two 12-week old puppies at the same time! (You can read our foster tails about them by clicking here.) It was crazy trying to potty train two puppies together. We have adopted most of our dogs when they were 4-6 months old, and still not potty trained for various reasons. So we do have our share of puppy potty training.
Puppy’s bladders are small, they can’t hold it for long… in fact it is recommended that the age in months your puppy is, is how long he can hold it. So for example, if he’s 3 months old, he should be able to not have an account inside for 3 hours. When he is 6 months old, he should be able to wait 6 hours. Although sometimes you will feel like he has to go outside every 10 minutes!
This will alleviate the temptation for your puppy to wander off to the other room to go potty. When you can’t watch him closely, use a crate. In fact, I always recommend keeping any new dog, potty trained or not, in a small portion of your house. Don’t give your puppy free reign of your house until he completely trained. This will also help with chewing and general mischievousness… you would never let a baby or toddler roam your house without supervision would you?
Take him outside often! Avoid playing before he goes potty, take him outside calmly, avoiding any distractions and tell him to “potty”. Giving a command will help as you he learns what you want from him. You can play AFTER he goes potty, this will be his reward for doing what you want. This is why so many people adopt a puppy in the spring and summer. Winter makes it more difficult, but it’s so important to show your puppy that outside for potty is the ONLY place he can go. Don’t give him the opportunity to go potty inside the house. Also, note the time you feed him and then take him outside 10-20 minutes from the time he is done eating.
Potty training is the perfect opportunity to use treats and a lot of praise. As soon as your puppy squats to pee or poop, say “good boy”, being careful not to get too excited to make him stop his business. And immediately when he finishes, treat him and get super excited at this point. He will very quickly pick up the idea that if he goes outside to pee or poop he gets treats and love.
Be very patient and consistent. Do not scold or punish your young puppy for having accidents in the house, it really is inevitable that he will have a potty accident. Just as babies aren’t born potty trained, neither are puppies… so it is your job to train him.
If you should catch your puppy circling for a spot inside to go potty, or even starting to squat… say NO in a firm voice, clap your hands or make a loud noise to startle your puppy. Then immediately take him outside, and tell him to go potty.
If your puppy somehow escaped your watch and had an accident in the house already, you can bring him over to the mess and say NO in your firm voice. There really isn’t much you can do if you didn’t catch him in the act, but let him know you are not happy with the pee or poop inside is okay, just don’t hit or punish him.
If you practice these steps, your puppy will be potty trained in no time at all! Every puppy is different, so I can’t guarantee that in 3 days your puppy will be potty trained. But stay positive and be consistent and before you know it you will be passed the potty training phase. Phew, what a relief 🙂
If you haven’t read our Bring Your New Dog Home post yet, head over there now to get some great tips on your first few months with your puppy.
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Debi McKee is a life-long dog lover and owner, volunteers for Fetch WI, fostering rescue dogs, performing home visits and more. She also attends every dog training seminar available to her, and is continually looking for ways to build her knowledge of dog adoption, health and training. Her goal is to guide you through every step of your dog journey. Read her story and learn about the dogs behind Rescue Dogs 101. If you have a question, please feel free to send Debi a message here.