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How to Potty Train a Puppy

Potty Train Puppy
The most important rules when potty training a puppy

The most important rules when potty training a puppy:

  • be consistent – Dogs are creatures of habit and will conform to any schedule as long as you are consistent.

  • use supervision – 100% supervision of your puppy is necessary to witness the behavior your puppy will display when it has to eliminate.
  • use confinement use a drop zone – Using confinement in a location where the puppy won’t eliminate is a must when you are unable to have 100% supervision of your puppy.  The crate is the best tool to accomplish this as puppies generally won’t eliminate where they sleep. When your puppy is not confined, you should have 100% eyes on your puppy.

Lets Get Started:

  1. Pick a designated location in the yard called the “Drop Zone”, which is approximately 6 feet by 6 feet square, clearly marked for your puppy by flags or decorative fencing.
  2. Start your potty training routine with your puppy by confining your puppy in a kennel or crate when not supervised. This means anytime you are unable to have 100% eyes on your puppy. The crate should be just large enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around and should be located in an area that has easy access to the door you are going to use to go out for potty breaks. Using the same door to go outside every time is a must.
  3. Let your puppy out of the kennel in the morning upon waking up and say “Do you want to go outside?” On a leash take your puppy to the door leading outside and pause again and say “Do you want to go outside?” Use the same door every time. (With young young puppies you will have to carry them to the drop zone as they will sometimes pee instantly after letting them out of their crate)
  4. Have a command for instructing your puppy when it is time to eliminate such as “Do your business”, “Do your duty”, “Take a Break”, etc. (note: the command you choose means for your dog to eliminate in both potty functions- there is no need for two separate commands). Use the same command every time.
  5. Once outside, quickly take your puppy over to the “Drop Zone” and command “Do Your Business” or “Take a break”. When your puppy does either of the bodily functions that you are waiting for, then praise your puppy with “ Good Boy” or “Good Girl” and reward with a small dog treat. Wait for your puppy to do its second function and also repeat “Do Your Business” or “Take a break” then reward with a food treat.
  6. Your puppy soon learns that it is more beneficial to eliminate in the “Drop Zone” and get a food reward than in any other part of the yard and get nothing for it.
  7. Only after your puppy fully eliminates then does he or she get any play sessions, walk around the block, etc. If for some reason your puppy does not eliminate when taken to the “Drop Zone”, then your puppy should be returned to its crate in the house and confined. Within 10-15 minutes you should repeat the above steps beginning with “Do You Want To Go Outside?”
  8. Take the puppy to the “Drop Zone” once every 20-30 minutes if possible. Get your puppy used to going only outside so it becomes foreign to go potty inside.
  9. At the drop zone, pay attention to your puppy on how he/she acts just prior to eliminating. Some puppies sniff the ground and do a little circle, while others move back and forth quickly before eliminating. If you see this inside the house, you know your puppy has to go outside.
  10. Make sure you are consistent with the feeding times too. Don’t leave food down all the time.  Have definite feeding periods with a time limit. If your puppy does not eat after 15 mins. take up the food and offer again during the next feeding time. You can also feed the puppy in the crate. This helps if a puppy is distracted while eating or if you have other dogs in the home. If you don’t know when the food and water is being consumed by your puppy, how do you expect to know when your puppy is going to eliminate?
Lets Get Started

Questions & Answers:

  • During training, If you actually witness your puppy eliminate in the house? 
    • Say, “No! Outside and Do Your Business” as you quickly take your puppy to the door and then to the Drop Zone. Once outside, turn the situation into a positive and command “Do Your Business” in a nice tone and reward your puppy with a food treat in the “Drop Zone” if your puppy eliminates. REMEMBER! If your puppy makes a mistake and eliminates in the house, ITS YOUR FAULT! Your puppy was simply in the wrong place (in the house) at the right time (Had to GO).

  • What happens if I DID NOT SEE my puppy have an accident in person?
    • DO NOT DISCIPLINE!!!!! It will only confuse and make your puppy afraid of you.

  • When will a puppy eliminate? 
    • Most puppies will eliminate 10 to 15 minutes after eating or drinking.

  • How long does this take?  

    • It’s different with every puppy.  Some catch on very quickly while others take a few months.

  • When will I know if my puppy is potty trained? 
    • You will know when your puppy is potty trained when your puppy consistently gives you a signal to go outside to eliminate.  The most common signal is looking at you then walking to the door you have been using to go out to the drop zone.  Your puppy will look back at you to see if you are paying attention.
Potty Training Q&A