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How to Potty Train A Puppy: 8 Top Tips

Having a new puppy is a very exciting and fun time! However, it can also be quite hard work. There’s a lot you need to teach your new friend, and knowing where to start can be tricky.

When it comes to house training, you should begin training your puppy when they are between 12 and 16 weeks old. Once they reach this age they have enough control of their bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it. If your puppy is much older than 12 weeks when you bring them home and used to doing their business in a cage, training may take longer.

But, no matter how old your new pooch is when you start, the tips below (plus a little encouragement) should help you potty train your puppy!

8 Essential Steps to Train Your Puppy

1. Give your pup their own space!

Do you like a little quiet time? Your puppy feels the same! Puppies like their own space, normally a crate or an area in a room that they feel comfortable retreating to. With a little time and reinforcement, you can gradually give your pup more freedom to roam around the house as they please, and take time to take them outside on a lead to do their business. They will quickly associate the difference between indoors and outdoors!

2. Routine is key!

Don’t let your pup hound you! Make sure you feed, exercise and take potty trips outside at regular times. A routine is important; not only will your pup learn what to expect, and make bathroom breaks easier, but a clear schedule will help them feel calm, safe and secure. To reinforce your training, be sure to feed your pup at the same time each day and take away their food between meals. After meals, and a good digestion break, they should also be allowed outside to do their business!

woman encourages puppy for house training

3. Keep them comfortable

Does your pup have a comforting area to stay when you’re out? If your puppy feels stressed or anxious, they may have an accident, so make sure you create a safe space for them. Choose a warm and comfortable sleeping area, with a bed and blanket and put something belonging to you, such as an item of clothing, in their bed to make them feel secure. Giving them safe chew toys and other distractions will also keep them occupied and comforted. Puzzles, and the sound of music or the radio are other good ways to make sure your puppy doesn't’ feel alone.

4. Use a crate

Keeping your pup in a crate while potty training can be a huge help. It allows you to keep an eye on them for signs that they might need a toilet break. Whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or scratching are all signals from your dog to say ‘I’ve got to go, take me outside!’. Crates are also a great way to create that secure, comfortable zone for your pup. To reinforce that safe feeling, be sure never to use this area for punishment, make it as nice as possible with toys and blankets, and try and make this a ‘puppy only’ zone. Your pup’s crate should be large enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down but ideally not large enough that they could create their own potty area. It will also need adjusting as they grow.

How to Potty Train A Puppy 8 Top Tips_3

5. Take them outside!

Take your pup outside as much as possible! Giving them regular trips outside (like first thing in the morning and then at least once an hour after that) will allow them to relieve themselves and they won’t get desperate to go.

Some of these trips outside should be after they have just woken up from a nap, and after they’ve eaten. They should also go out last thing at night before bedtime, first thing in the morning, and before they are left alone for any length of time.

6. Save that spot

While potty training, it can help to take your pup to the same place each time to do their business, as their scent will prompt them to go. You should stay with your pup outside, at least until they are house trained. It’s also a good idea to stay outside with them for longer than you think - puppies frequently want to go more than once.

7. Reinforce with rewards

It’s all about puppy love! Rewarding your puppy with treats or fuss will help them understand that what they are learning is positive! One of the best ways to reinforce house training is to catch them doing the right thing, then give them lots of happy fuss and attention!

Creating a cue-word is a good way to prompt your puppy to go outside. Each time your pup is outside and looks like they’re about to go, say the word, then reward and fuss them when they have finished. Your puppy will soon understand what your word means and you can use it as a cue whenever you open the door to let them out.

8. Accept that accidents happen

Never punish your pup for having an accident; this can give negative feelings or even damage your relationship with your pawsome pal. If you do catch your pup going potty inside, just clap loudly or make a short but sharp noise to catch their attention. Try and be consistent in using the same word (such as ‘no’) or noise each time. If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react or yell. Your pup won’t be able to connect your anger with their accident, and this can hinder their progress and your friendship. Clean up any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner (rather than an ammonia-based one) - this will help remove the odours and stop your puppy going back to the same spot.

Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old - this could be due to incomplete house training or a change in the puppy’s environment or stress. So when they happen, just stay patient and keep training your pup! If your puppy doesn’t seem to be learning and you’ve tried the methods above, then it’s always worth consulting a vet to rule out any medical issues.

puppy on a pad

Using an ADAPTIL Junior Collar can help to enhance the learning process and improve your pup’s socialization training. The collar is effective at relaxing newly adopted puppies by sending “comforting messages” that help your puppy feel comfy and secure. With this support, you can help your dog learn effectively, and encourage their development into a confident, balanced, and well-trained adult dog.


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