Many people pick a special spot in the yard for elimination, which can assist with the leaning process and also helps
with cleanup. Crate training is also an effective way to aid in the process.
Puppies will develop at various rates, but below are some reasonable expectations and guidelines for potty training.
Most puppies will not have the muscle control and coordination to last more than 1-3 hours in the day until they are about
16+ weeks of age. Your puppy will need to go out to potty in many or all of these situations:
- Every 1-3 hours
- After eating
- After drinking
- After playing
- After napping and sleeping
- Before bedtime
- During the night 1-2 times (do not expect your puppy to sleep through the night right away)
Go outdoors with your puppy and praise the dog for eliminating outdoors. (You may also give a treat if you like)
Allow some play time outdoors often, so that puppy does not learn to delay going in an effort to prolong the time outdoors.
Use a term like “potty” or “hurry up” to reinforce the efforts.
Feed your puppy on a schedule (rather than free feeding with a full bowl) so that elimination is more predictable.
Use positive reinforcement (praise, play, treats) to encourage the training.
Do not scold or punish for accidents. Also, check out our articles on submissive and excitement urination and separation anxiety if you are having frequent accidents when you arrive home.
If you puppy has been crated for some time while you were out, you may want to carry your puppy out from crate to the outdoor
elimination spot to help eliminate accidents on the way.
Hire a dog walker if you work long days and your dog will have to wait more than 4 hours.
Patience, patience, patience.
Continue reinforcing the behavior until 5-6 months of age.
Signs and Signals:
Over time, your puppy will develop a way to tell you s/he needs to go out. Common early signals are:
- Wandering in circles
- Starting to squat
At the first sign of any of these behaviors, immediately take puppy outdoors.
Later signals may include the above and/or:
- Standing or pacing by the door
- Running from you to the door
- Scratching at the door
- Looking from you to the door
- Attention seeking behavior
Dogs do not like to sleep in an unclean area, so crates can be a useful tool in potty training. A crate creates a den-like
quiet place for your dog.
- Crate should be a positive place, never use it for punishment
- Crate size should be big enough that your dog can stand up and turn around in it.
- Larger crates can be sectioned off until your puppy grows larger.
Dogs will potty train at different rates based on size, breed, muscle control and
training. Be patient, keep at it, and remember that puppies are babies.