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Optimeal® Blog

How To Potty Train a Puppy: 4 Easy Steps

By Optimeal Team


While being a pet parent is a great experience that can brighten your life and add warmth to your home, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. When you first bring your pup home, there are a lot of routines to learn, include housetraining.

Potty training is an important milestone young puppies should hit while they’re still fairly young.

Training good habits for using the restroom is one of the first things you should check off your new dog training checklist. Luckily, your puppy’s potty training only really involves a few easy steps, and lots of consistency.

4 Steps for Potty Training

House training your pup can be a challenge. These three methods are tried and true ways to potty train dogs quickly and effectively. Here are the guidelines you need to know.

#1: Crate Training

Crate training is a popular method for potty training puppies for many reasons, and it translates into other desired behaviors, too.

Most dogs love crates when they’re used correctly. Your dog crate should be like their room — while it can be a confinement area during bedtime or when you leave the house to run an errand, it shouldn’t be a place of punishment or discomfort.

It should be have enough room that they can relax inside without pressing against the walls. Most pet parents add a dog bed, blankets, and some toys in the crate for extra comfort. Using your pup’s crate to help potty train them is effective since it should already be an area your pup will enjoy.

Second, while your pup is in their crate, they will be reluctant to use the bathroom inside. Your new puppy may have no problem with peeing on your rug or floor if they don’t know better. However, they will be much more reluctant to poop in their crate. Now, if your dog is left for too long in the crate and simply can’t hold it, they may still go potty in this area. But, it is less likely for your pup to go to the bathroom while in their crate because most dogs won’t want to soil their relaxation and sleeping area. 

Read more here about how long your puppy should be left alone in a crate.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how crate training works:

First, put your pup in their crate for short periods of time. Wait until they whine, bark, or scratch their crate to signal to you that they need a potty break. When they signal that they need to go outside, release them with a special cue and take them outside to go to the bathroom. Give them a reward and repeat the process.

It’s important to differentiate between crate training and keeping your dog in the crate for long periods of time. Crate training is accomplished through short periods of time spent in the crate while you are home and available to let your pup out when they need to go potty. They will most likely signal this to you through whining and scratching.

If you do need to keep your dog in their crate for longer periods of time, note that this will not help crate train them. Many pup parents aren’t able to leave their dogs out of the crate while they’re gone, so crates make a good option for keeping your dog and home safe while you’re gone.

Still, if your dog goes potty in their crate while you’re not there to let them out, this teaches them that it’s okay to go potty in the same area where they live. This can reverse all the hard work crate training helps accomplish.

#2: Paper/Pad Training

Paper training or “pee pad” training is another way you can potty train your pup, but it can be more complicated than crate training because this method involves two options for your puppy. Paper training is a method that uses puppy pads indoors to give your puppy specific spots they’re allowed to relieve themselves.

The idea is for puppies to learn that there are specific spots outside that they’re allowed to relieve themselves, but this isn’t always what puppies learn — a lot of them will just associate potty pads as a sign that it’s okay to go inside the house, which is why this method isn’t as commonly used anymore, especially by professional dog trainers.

#3: Know Your Pet’s Reward System

When potty training your dog, it’s absolutely critical to know your pup’s preferred reward system — positive reinforcement is critical for training dogs in a healthy way. Some types of dogs respond best to praise and affection from their owners, while other dogs are food motivated and will learn best with a treat.

The key is using their preferred reward system to really reinforce that you’re happy with their behavior. If they signal that they need to go outside, tell them “good potty” as they’re using the restroom, and then offer a treat, playtime, or praise when they come back inside.

#4: Creating Routines

Puppies thrive on routine when it comes to learning the rules of the house. If you create a regular schedule for them to go outside, they’ll become accustomed to that schedule and will know they don’t need to relieve themselves outside because potty time is coming soon.

A lot of puppies will need to go out after a nap, after energetic play, and after eating, which is why their feeding schedule will be in tune with their potty schedule, too. Especially for young pups, potty time comes fairly soon after eating and drinking, usually within the half hour.

Learn your pup’s routine and get them accustomed to your routines, and soon it will seem like potty time runs on a schedule.

Tips To Help the Potty Training Process

Here are a few tips to make the potty training process easier.

Have the Right Tools

When you begin the potty training process, having the right tools can make a big difference. Tools for cleanup and hygiene are crucial. Keep wipes, towels, and sanitizing spray (especially enzymatic cleaners that can tackle odors) close at hand when you bring your pup home. These can help make messes less stressful and easier to clean. Plus, if you have expensive furniture or rugs in your home, having a reliable cleaner on-hand can help eliminate unwanted stains.

Protect Your Home

This leads us to our next potty training tip. If you have expensive furniture or rugs, we suggest temporarily moving these to another room or putting up baby gates so your untrained pup can’t get to them with a full bladder. If you can’t move them, consider investing in water-proof covers to protect them from your new puppy’s potential accidents.

Patience, Patience, Patience

When you welcome a puppy who isn’t potty trained into your home, the chances that they will have accidents in the house are high. With the right training tools and practices, you can minimize accidents and quickly potty train your new pup, but there will likely be a few accidents in the beginning stages.

For new pup parents, it’s important to try and be patient with your puppy. Continue being firm and exercising your regular training practices, but remembering patience can help make the process easier for both you and your puppy. Negative punishment is never the way to go when they are first learning.

As long as you’re able to be patient in your puppy’s training, you’ll see results before you know it and enjoy a house trained canine companion.

Consistency is Key

The key to successful potty training is consistency. You can work on all the potty training practices you want, but unless you offer a consistent schedule and reward system, you may end up compromising your pup’s training.

Consistency is necessary in many different areas. For instance, if you use a cue to release your dog from their crate or when taking them outside and telling them it’s time to go potty, make sure this cue stays consistent.

It’s important that all family members use the same cues when potty training. Offer your dog the same treats, take them to the bathroom using the same door, and always offer the same level of affection and praise when they follow your instruction.


10 Dog Breeds That Love to Eat | American Kennel Club

House Training Your Dog | Brown.edu

The Importance of Consistency in Training Your Family Dog | AKC



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