The basics of Potty Training Your New Puppy


Potty Train A Puppy - The Basics

  • So, now you're ready to start potty training your puppy. If you follow these steps and are patient and consistent, you'll have a well-trained pup sooner than you think....


    1. Designate a specific 'potty spot'
      Make sure there's an area of your yard just for your puppy, and ALWAYS take him there to potty. Introduce him to it as soon as you get him home, before you even take him inside the house, and hopefully he'll be ready to relieve himself.

    2. Realize that puppies need to potty a lot!
      The average 8 week old pup needs to go out approx. every 30 mins to an hour during the day, and most will need at least one potty break during the night for the first few weeks. Always take him to his potty spot after every meal, nap and playtime - and anytime he is whining, circling and sniffing, or seems restless or agitated (all classic signs that he needs to 'go'). 

    3. Keep To A Predictable Routine
      Puppies really benefit from having a daily housebreaking routine that they can count on. It also helps your efforts to potty train a puppy in two ways..... It has emotional benefits because it makes them feel secure - remember how puppies love repetition and habits? On a practical level, putting your pup's meals, naps and playtimes on a schedule will regulate his bowels and make it easier for you to predict when he needs a potty break.

    4. Teach your pup to let you know when he needs to go outside
      Although at first you will be in control of when, and how often, your pup goes outdoors to pee/poop - but eventually you'll want him to let you know when the urge strikes! You can teach him to give you a 'heads-up' by using Poochie Bells. The idea is that he alerts you to his needs by ringing these little bells which are hung on the handle of the door you want him to use to go outside. To begin with you'll need to help him 'ring' them every single time you go out, and add a verbal cue such as 'Fido needs to potty' as you do so. Most pups will get the hang of this fairly quickly, and it certainly makes life much easier later on. 

    5. Never leave your puppy to run around indoors unsupervised
      When you're beginning to housebreak your puppy, NEVER leave your him to run around the house unsupervised. Although dogs are naturally clean animals and will do their best not to soil in their den, your home is considerably larger than a dog's natural den, and it will take some time for a tiny puppy to realize that the whole house is his den and needs to be kept clean. 

      This is why crate training a puppy is the quickest and most effective way to potty train a puppy. While your puppy is loose in your home, watch him like a hawk.. and at the first sign that he needs to 'go' (remember the body language for this... whining, circling, intense sniffing, arching his back or even squatting) scoop him up and get him to his potty spot. Whenever you can't watch him, put your puppy in his crate (where he will be much less likely to pee/poop at will. 

      A puppy play-pen or a fenced-off area of the kitchen is better than letting him run free, but not nearly as effective as a crate. BUT don't put him there and then forget about him. He's still going to need to go outdoors in 30 minutes!

    6. Pick a 'Trigger Word' and use it consistently
      When you're potty training a puppy, choose a word or phrase (called a 'trigger word') and repeat it quietly while you're encouraging him to 'do his business'. "Potty time" or "hurry up" work fine or choose something you're comfortable with. (You could say 'bananas' if you wanted to and it would work the same way, but if anyone overheard you they may well THINK you're bananas yourself!)

      Over time your little guy will come to associate this word or phrase with the actual action of peeing or pooping and eventually just hearing it will trigger the desired reaction. This is something that will prove invaluable when it's 20F below and you don't want to stand outside for the next 45 minutes!

    7. Make sure your puppy knows when he's succeeded
      Always praise your puppy when he 'goes' in the appropriate spot. He wants to please you and this is how he knows he's been successful. If you want to you can give him a tiny, tasty treat as a reward too (I do this for the first few weeks and it really does help). Just don't give him a big treat because as he'll be making anywhere up to 24 potty trips a day he'd be eating his own weight in goodies in no time!

    8. Don't scold, if he makes a mistake so have you!
      Unless you catch your puppy in the act of peeing/pooping in an inappropriate place (and I mean IN THE ACT, not 10 seconds later) there's no point in scolding him, he won't have a clue why you're mad and will just be scared. He may look guilty, but it's not because he knows he did wrong, it's because he can feel that you're angry and upset and that scares him. If he's had the opportunity to have an 'accident' then you've also failed somewhere and probably should be scolding yourself! 

      Maybe you didn't supervise him closely enough, or you forgot that he needed to go out after lunch, or you were busy when he woke up and expected him to 'hold it'. When you want to potty train a puppy, your job is to make sure he's set up to succeed, and if he's made a mistake, chances are good it's because of one you made first. 

      However, if he does squat right in front of you it's perfectly OK to say "No' or "Bad" in a loud, firm voice. It may even startle him into pausing mid-flow. Scoop him up immediately and take him straight to his potty spot and let him finish his 'business'. Then give him lots of praise. Even if he seems to have emptied his bladder or bowels onto the carpet, still take him outside and repeat the 'trigger word' so that he understands that this is where he's supposed to 'go'. 

      One other point that I'd like to make is that puppies NEVER make a mess on your carpet out of 'spite' or because they're upset with you!

      They're simply not capable of thinking in that way. They also don't know that it's wrong (until their housebreaking education is complete anyway).... you'd be surprised how many puppy owners don't realize this. 

    Dog crate
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Training clicker
  • Dog treats

Tip

  • It can take up to six months to fully house-train a Yorkie, though you may see progress within a week or two.

Warning

  • Never yell at or punish your dog for having an accident. This can encourage future accidents.