Potty Training Your Puppy

Potty training! The first trick everybody wants their dog to learn and one of the most time consuming aspects of getting a puppy. Don’t worry, Off Leash K9 Training Huntsville is here to help you get started. Keep in mind that this article will be talking about puppies, but these tips will work for adult dogs as well. Let’s begin!

What you need to begin

Before getting started, it’s important to have the proper tools ready to go to ensure that your puppy’s potty training experience goes as smooth as possible. Here’s what you’ll need:


The most important thing you’ll need, of course, is your puppy!


A crate is a very important tool for potty training your puppy because it will allow you to much more easily establish a schedule and prevent accidents. As your puppy begins to learn the schedule, they can be granted more and more freedom.

As a general rule of thumb, unless you’re actively watching your puppy, they should be secured in a crate. Don’t worry about them getting bored, puppies need a lot of sleep, so if you present it properly, they’ll see their crate a safe blanket den where they take naps. Just be sure to keep them on a consistent food/water/bathroom schedule.

Keep in mind, puppies need plenty of time to play and go on walks and to bond with you, so make sure you’re giving them lots of love and attention throughout the day!

We’ll be going over crate training specifically in a future article.


The leash can be used for monitoring your puppy outside the crate (until they’ve demonstrated they can walk around your house freely) and for taking your puppy out to go potty.


Treats are very important for rewarding your puppy for going potty at the right place and time, always keep some close by!


You’ll probably want some poop bags for cleaning up after your puppy (be it inside or outside your home).

Enzymatic cleaner

This will be important for cleaning up accidents inside the house to prevent the puppy from establishing a pattern of going in the same place each time.


Don’t forget, potty training a puppy takes lots of time, so you need to be prepared for this. Taking a puppy outside every hour, and several times during the night, will take a lot of time and dedication. Keep in mind it can take 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully potty trained, and in some cases, even as long as a year.

If you can’t take your puppy out frequently enough, this might not be the time to get a puppy. If you already have a puppy, find a reliable friend, neighbor, family member, or a professional dog walker to take your puppy out on their potty breaks.


Always remember to be patient with your puppy. They won’t know what they’re supposed to do until you show them, so any accidents in the house are not their fault, they’re yours. Don’t yell or rub their nose in their accidents, this will only establish you as being scary and unpredictable. Instead, be supportive and encouraging, so you can start to establish a strong bond of trust and communication with your puppy!

Set a schedule

Setting a schedule will help to expedite the process for you and your puppy. If your puppy eats on a schedule, they will eliminate on a schedule; the less accidents, the quicker your puppy will learn where they’re supposed to go.

Feeding schedule

Puppies will typically need to eat 3-4 times per day, so plan out a set schedule for when they will eat at the same time every day, that way they will need to eliminate around the same time as well. You can check with your puppy’s veterinarian to make sure how much they should be eating and what they should be eating.

Potty schedule

As a general rule of thumb, a puppy can hold their bladder 1 hour for every month they are old. So if your puppy is 2 months old, they should be able to hold it for 2 hours, but this will vary depending on size and breed, so you will have to experiment to figure out what the window is. Every 30-60 minutes is a good place to start; you can then increase the time between potty breaks as your puppy demonstrates continued success.

Puppies begin to learn how to hold it at about 12-16 weeks of age, at which point they can begin to go longer before having an accident.

The more success they have eliminating outside, the less overall time it will take to potty train your puppy, so remember your time invested now is important.


Puppies are known to be able to hold their bladders for up to 7 hours while sleeping, but when they’re young, it’s a good idea to give them an opportunity to go every 3-4 hours during the night. To reduce the likelihood of accidents, you can pick up their water dish about 2.5 hours before bed. It is also highly recommended that your puppy sleep inside of their crate at night. The crate should be big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lay down, but not big enough for them to potty in the corner.

Puppies naturally do not like to eliminate where they sleep, so having them sleep in the crate will lower the likelihood of accidents. If they are eliminating in the crate while sleeping, this could be because they were in there too long and just couldn’t hold it, they could have had a previous living condition where they picked up a bad habit of eliminating in the crate, or there may be an underlying medical issue, so to rule these out take your puppy to the vet for an examination and make sure you’re letting your puppy out frequently enough.

When you take your puppy out at night, or hear them making sounds in their crate, it’s important that you don’t turn on too many lights or give your puppy too much attention or they may begin to associate the midnight potty break as playtime and start waking you up to play!

Taking your puppy out to potty

If you follow the process below, you can decrease the total amount of time spent potty training your puppy and decrease the likelihood of accidents.

What if my puppy already went inside?

If you find that your puppy had an accident, and you weren’t there to witness it, just clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner (which removes the smell and makes the puppy less attracted to go there again) and keep a closer eye on your puppy.

DO NOT punish your puppy for an accident they did previously. They won’t understand why you’re angry and will just learn that you’re scary and unpredictable. This will also make it more likely they’ll try to hide from you in the house to go potty.

If your puppy is having accidents, they should be tethered to a leash close to you in the house or be in their crate so that you can monitor them for signs that they need to go out.

What if I see my puppy going inside?

Clap your hands or say something loudly to interrupt their behavior and either carry them outside to their potty place while putting their leash on or take them out on their leash.

If they continue going outside, praise them and reward your puppy with a treat.

How do I know if my puppy has to go?

Puppies will often have signs that they have to go, such as scratching at the door, barking, whining, circling, sitting by the door, etc. Learn to watch for your puppies signs so that you can get them to their spot in time. Your puppy will try to do the right thing if given the proper guidance and opportunities.

What should I do when I take my puppy out?

Take your puppy on a leash to the spot you would like them to eliminate. You can also give them a command or keyword that they can learn to associate with what they’re supposed to do, such as, “Potty!” in an encouraging voice.

Give them 15 minutes to eliminate. If you know based on their schedule that they should have peed or peed and pooped and they didn’t finish, take them back to their crate and try again in 15 minutes to make accidents less likely.

Once they eliminate, give them lots of praise and reward them with a treat. It’s also important that you ignore your puppy until they do so, so that they don’t associate going outside to potty as a walk or playtime. You can certainly reward your puppy with a walk and/or playtime once they do go potty!

Potty training progression

If your puppy is still going inside

This can mean 1 of 3 things: You’re not watching your puppy close enough or you’re giving your puppy too much freedom to roam around, you’re not giving your puppy enough opportunities to eliminate outside, or your puppy has a medical condition causing them to eliminate inside. It’s always a good idea to get a veterinarian’s opinion to make sure your puppy is healthy!

If your puppy is going outside on your scheduled trips

This is a great sign! But this doesn’t mean your puppy is completely potty trained just yet. You will want to stick with this plan for at least a few months to make sure it is ingrained in your puppy. However, you can start to slowly decrease the frequency of potty breaks outside. If your puppy starts to have accidents again, just increase the frequency of trips once again.

Wrapping up

Always make sure you have the time and patience to potty train your puppy properly and they will do their best to make you proud! It takes a lot of work, but it always pays off in the end. If you have any questions that we didn’t answer above, feel free to post them in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to help you out!

As always, if you have any questions about our dog training services and if they’ll be right for you, send us a facebook message using the bubble on the bottom right.

Now might be a great time to get your puppy signed up for one of our puppy classes!





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