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How Do You Potty Train a Puppy? A How-To Guide

Puppies are joyous and adorable creatures. They are fluffy, sweet, eager to please, and endlessly curious. In short, there is no limit to the amount of traits to love about puppies.

However, there are a few aspects of pet parenthood that are, to say the least, slightly less cute. Though it is necessary, potty training certainly comes to mind. Luckily, we have the ultimate guide on house training your puppy properly.

What Items Do You Need to Successfully Potty Train a Puppy?

Before beginning your puppy potty training journey, you should make sure that you are equipped with a few necessary items. By having these objects on hand whenever you might need them, you are ensuring that any moment can become a teaching moment. You might also save your floors some damage and yourself some cleaning at the same time.

Having the right items for housetraining your pup will help to facilitate the communication between you two, setting you on a course for a wonderful and productive relationship for many years to come. If you get your new puppy — and their bladder — used to training, these lessons will stick with them long into adulthood. Also, since you have that communication and trust already built up, giving them guidelines and helping them form good habits as they age will be a significantly easier process.

It is best to purchase these items prior to bringing your new furry friend home. By having them always be a part of your puppy’s environment, they will be put on the right track for training. Otherwise, your puppy can establish a routine that is not at all what you want. As we will mention later on in this article, consistency is key to training. Start them on the path to success from day one by having everything you need for them at the ready.

There Is No Such Thing as Too Many Pee Pads

The first item that you should look into getting when introducing a puppy into your home is a pee pad, also known as a potty pad or puppy pad.

Actually, scratch that. We mean a lot of pee pads. Although the goal is absolutely to have your dog only taking potty breaks outside, accidents and stains can still happen. Not only that but in all likelihood, there will be occasions when going outside is not an option.

This could happen because the weather is anywhere from unpleasant to completely inhospitable. While you should try to bring your puppy out to use the bathroom whenever possible, a severe storm or several feet of snow will likely prevent it. If your dog is too uncomfortable or afraid outside, they may refuse to use the bathroom, even if they have to.

In these situations, as well as when the potty training process is only just beginning, having pee pads at your disposal is integral. This way, your puppy will have a place to go that will not be destructive to your home, and the cleanup will be minimal.

Simultaneously, using a pee pad teaches your dog that there are certain spaces where they can use the bathroom and other areas that they should not. In order to avoid further accidents, you are going to want the pee pad you use to be entirely leak-resistant. Otherwise, you’ll be running to grab the paper towels.

Poop Bags

Of course, what would a pee pad be without its loyal friend, the poop bag? No matter where your young puppy is in the process of potty training and where it is that they go, you are going to want a relatively no-fuss way to clean it up.

As many dog owners will tell you, poop bags are the best option here. They come in handy anytime your dog needs to move their bowels, and help with the elimination of odors.

A Dog Crate Where They Feel at Ease

We will go more in-depth on this subject in a little while, but a dog crate can actually be one of the single most useful tools when it comes to potty training your puppy.

Providing your puppy with a crate will give them a place that is all their own, where they can feel totally safe. At the same time, you have somewhere to put them so that they will stay in one place when you are briefly away.

Some High-Reward Treats

Training a dog of any age to adopt certain behaviors is all about one thing: positive reinforcement, which is always more effective than punishment.

As any professional dog trainer will tell you, the best way to establish positive reinforcement in many dogs is by strategically giving them some of their absolute favorite treats. You can even reserve these specific treats just for training, which will make them even more encouraging for your dog.

The reason that treats are such an effective means of training puppies is that many dogs are food motivated. This means that your dog is likely to do whatever it is you are looking for in order to obtain the offered food.

Since dogs are smart and can recognize patterns given enough repetition, they will eventually associate performing tasks with receiving the food that they want. After a while, they will form an association with words and gestures that is so strong they will still perform the desired action even when there is no food being offered.

If your dog is not as highly food motivated or if you just want to add extra incentive, never underestimate the power of positive vocal reinforcement. Dogs respond incredibly well to a joyful tone of voice and facial expression, especially those that are eager to please.

A Household Cleaner That Is Safe for Your Pet

No matter how careful and consistent you are with your puppy, it is unfortunately inevitable that accidents will happen. This is in no way an indication that your training methods are lacking. Instead, they are a necessary part of the process and they should be expected at any stage of training. Even if you believe that your dog is mostly or even completely potty trained, there could still be miscommunications from time to time that will lead to accidents.

When these situations occur, it is crucial that you are prepared. This might not be a particularly enjoyable aspect of puppy ownership, but it is something that all puppy pet parents go through from time to time. Be sure to thoroughly and quickly clean up the mess. If you do not clean it in its entirety, your dog might pick up the scent of it and start to use that spot as a bathroom on a more regular basis.

Take Your Puppy Outside Frequently

In order to show your puppy that bathroom time is only for outside, they need to be given enough opportunities to learn that lesson. If they are stuck only being inside for too long, then you are significantly raising the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Puppies do not yet have all of the necessary functions and control that they will have as they age. Instead, puppies will need to use the restroom much more often than their older counterparts.

This is why it is so important that you are cognizant and aware of your dog’s subtle cues as a pet parent. It is only by listening to what they are trying to tell you and acting accordingly that you give your puppy the most opportunities to succeed. By working together in this way, the overall potty training process will be a much quicker and easier one.

How Often Do Puppies Need To Use the Bathroom?

A generally agreed-upon rule of thumb is that puppies can only wait one hour per however many months old they are between potty breaks. For example, a one-month-old puppy will need to pee every hour, whereas a four-month-old puppy will be okay for roughly four hours without a bathroom break. Make sure to take your puppy out at least as often as this rule dictates.

However, it is important to know your dog and their patterns. Get to recognize how they act when they have to use the bathroom. Do they whine or scratch, trying to get your attention?

You can discourage these behaviors by taking them out earlier to tend to their needs. It can also be helpful to set timers every few hours to remind you when to bring your puppy out for a break.

Create a Daily Routine for Your Dog and Stick to It

Dogs are creatures that absolutely thrive on a set routine, and this is especially true in the case of puppies. Puppies are just learning how they should act, and they crave the sense of structure that a routine will offer them.

If your dog gets used to going out for bathroom breaks at specific times throughout the day, then they will be more inclined to try to hold it in until then. This will help your dog to develop the bodily functions that they will need to hold it for longer, and will also help them learn to trust you completely.

It is always a good idea to take your puppy out right after waking up, as well as right before going to bed. However, puppies will also have to be taken out throughout the night until they can hold it for the entire night. At this age, you will still want to take them out immediately after waking and just before sleeping to give them the best possible chance of not having an accident over the course of the night.

Also, keep in mind when you are feeding your dog their meals. Since puppies have smaller stomachs than adult dogs, they are better off getting several smaller meals during the day. It is normal that your dog will have to use the bathroom shortly after eating, so make post-meal potty breaks a part of the usual routine.

Teach Them Not To Go in the House by Crate Training Them

Crates are helpful for an abundance of puppy training purposes. Whether you are looking to potty train your puppy, or you want to teach them to sleep through the night, many people crate training to be an invaluable part of raising a happy, healthy puppy.

Dogs are wired to not want to soil their crates, as they think of them as their space, and therefore want to keep it clean. If you show your puppy that this crate is all for them, they will take ownership of it in this way.

When your dog is in their crate, they will do everything in their power to avoid using the bathroom. This is when it becomes even more important than usual to understand how your dog communicates with you, and how they might be trying to tell you that they need to relieve themselves.

When deciding what crate to get for your puppy, one of the most important considerations is the crate size. You can estimate what size your dog will be once they're done growing by thinking about your dog’s breed as well as their current age. While this strategy might not be completely foolproof, it will tend to give you a decent idea of what size crate to look into.

However, you might then be faced with an issue given that your puppy is currently a bit smaller than they will be as an adult (depending on your dog, of course). If this is the case for your dog, a divider would likely be very helpful to you.

This allows you to make the part of the crate available to your puppy smaller, which helps prevent peeing in the crate, and actually makes your puppy more comfortable. Dogs actually feel the most comfortable in crates that are not overly large. Instead, they should be big enough that your dog can comfortably stand up and turn around.

If the crate is too large, then bathroom accidents actually become much more common in that space. If the area is just right, however, then they consider it to be a vital part of their home, and therefore somewhere that they want to keep clean.

Focus on Positive Reinforcement, Not Negative

Training dogs is all about positive reinforcement. Whenever your puppy does something correctly, you are going to want to praise them quite a bit. You can reinforce this behavior by giving your dog treats, vocally reassuring them, petting them, and playing with them. Essentially, if there is an activity or item (such as a toy) that your dog really enjoys, it can be used as positive reinforcement.

Alternatively, negative reinforcement is not an effective tool for training dogs of any age. Instead of making your dog want to perform the positive behavior, negative reinforcement only works to break down any trust that was established between puppy and pet parent. Negative reinforcement leads to confusion rather than anything productive.

You are going to want to keep your puppy’s favorite treats with you when taking them out to use the potty, as well as any toys or tools you will use to play. It is crucial to do the positive reinforcement right after your dog performs the desired action so that they can form the correct association. If you wait too long to reward your dog, then they might not be able to form the connection that this is because they used the bathroom outdoors.

How Do You Potty Train Your Puppy When You Are Not Home?

Potty training a puppy while you are not at home can be a bit more complicated of an endeavor. It is best to watch over your puppy whenever you can. Otherwise, their rambunctious and curious nature could cause them to get into trouble around the house. However, all pet parents will have occasions when they can’t be directly supervising their dog.

Perhaps you need to run some errands, you have to work, or you have another reason that results in you being out of the house for a little while. In any of these cases, crate training will help you and your puppy tremendously.

As we established, dogs will do their best to avoid using the bathroom in their crate. By putting your dog in their crate while you are away, you are also making sure that they are in a comfortable and safe spot until you can come back.

However, your puppy will need to use the bathroom sooner rather than later. Adhere to the one hour per month of your puppy’s life rule at the minimum, but it is best to be back to give your dog a break more often than that. If you are away and cannot return, you can ask someone you trust like a neighbor or family member to take your dog out until you are home.

Patience Is the Name of the Game

When you first bring your puppy home, there will be so much for you two to learn together. You will discover and establish a routine that works perfectly for both of you, and you will learn how to read one another.

There are a few situations in which this is more true for both pet and pet parents than during potty training. In order for this process to be as easy as possible for everyone involved, always remember to be patient.

By being patient, your puppy will be able to build up a sense of confidence. This confidence will make them learn the fine art of potty training even faster and will help each of you in the long run. While potty training your puppy might not be the most joyous part of having a dog, it is necessary. When done correctly, potty training can help strengthen your bond and trust with one another.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- crate training is one of the best tools to help pet parents potty train a puppy, along with so many other benefits. Our Revol dog crate is a great option for pups of all ages and sizes, and is loved by pet parents everywhere.

Inspired by the safety and quality standards of the baby product industry, we created our Revol Dog Crate to be the perfect blend of safety, durability, functionality, and aesthetic appeal for pets and pet parents alike.

Made with the modern pet parent in mind, the Revol Dog Crate:

  • is ergonomically designed and easily collapsible with one hand for storage and transportation;
  • is designed to feel open even when closed, thanks to the special diamond-shaped mesh pattern for the walls and roof;
  • is built to last with durable yet lightweight materials that are so safe, they meet FDA safety standards for food use;
  • is available in spacious sizes designed to the maximum size accommodations;
  • comes with a puppy divider so your crate can grow with your fur baby;
  • is safe and secure enough for even the most precocious pup;
  • and has specially-designed accessories available to make your dog's crate truly feel like home.

Click here to see why thousands of pet parents love the Revol Dog Crate, and learn how you can bring home the best dog crate for your growing puppy.


Working for Food Enriches Dogs’ Lives and Breaks the Boredom | Psychology Today

How To House Train Your Dog or Puppy | The Humane Society of the United States

Positive Rewards Dog Training Tips | American Kennel Club

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