Dog Potty – The Complete How-To Guide For Potty Training

When you own a puppy, over time, you begin to understand it more literally when people say “accidents (or its less flowery synonym) happen!” Because it does, and it could leave anyone frustrated. Yeah, we love our dogs and all but if only they could learn to use a dog potty from the womb, right? Well, that’s unreasonable.

If you want your pup to learn to go to his potty when he needs to eliminate, then you’re going to have to teach him, and that can be a bit challenging.

Now teaching your pet to make use of a dog potty is not difficult in itself. It is only challenging in that it requires a lot of patience, as with almost every other thing with owning a pet. Dogs are not human and so, though they possess an amazing capacity to understand human language to an appreciable extent, there’s always that communication barrier.

However, once you know what you’re doing and you overdose on chill pills, you should be ready to potty train your dog. So, are you ready to begin your training on dog potty training? Then, come along.

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When To Begin Dog Potty Training

Well, according to the experts, the best time to begin dog potty training is when your pup is about 12 to 16 weeks old. Now, this is an ideal situation.

What about cases when your pup is adopted and older than 12 weeks? And probably is already used to “going” in his crate. Some might even be used to eating their own feces.

In such a case, you would require a lot of patience. You know what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks. Well, this case might not be so hopeless but it sure will take a longer time than the average puppy.

You’re basically going to be reengineering the way your new dog behaves. So you’re going to have to encourage your new puppy a lot and reward him. It might be painstaking, but it sure comes with a sense of fulfillment once the training is completed.


How To Dog Potty Train Your Puppy

Like we already mentioned, it’s not going to be easy dog potty training your pup at first, but you’ll get the hang of it with time.

Now, it isn’t just about getting your pup to potty, it’s also about time and place. Your puppy must be able to potty at the right place and at the right time.

Here’s one of the reasons dog potty training is very important.

One of the top reasons dogs end up homeless or in shelters is because of house soiling or destruction. Two issues that can easily be taken care of with training.

We’re pretty sure those dog owners did not anticipate that level of frustration when they first brought their pup home. This is why it is so critical to owning a dog pet to learn all you can about dog potty training.

Mary Burch (Ph.D) is the director of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R Puppy programs. She discusses her top three methods for dog potty training in an article for the American Kennel Club. We will look into these three methods.

  1. Crate training.
  2. Taking your pup outside frequently.
  3. Paper/Puppy Pad training.

Of course each of these methods comes with its own unique challenges and advantages which we are going to explore in depth in a bit.


1. Crate Training

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At first, many people always seem to be averse to the idea of crating their dogs. Even till now, there are so many people who are against dog-crating for various reasons best known to them. A very good example is the People for the Ethical of Animals (PETA) who advocate strongly against dog crating.

Anyway, we are not here to look into the arguments for or against dog crating. But if you’re interested, we have a really comprehensive guide on dog crates and training that answers all of that. You could check it out.

Anyway, back to what we were discussing, crates are just life savers. They make life a lot easier and they also make dog potty training quite workable.

If you’re not already crating your dog, then you should. You need to get them to get used to the idea of crating in preparation for unavoidable situations in future.

For instance, visits to the vet, travel, security reasons, or convalescence. All these are unavoidable situations where your dog would absolutely need a crate. If he isn’t used to crating by then, you can imagine how much difficult it would be to get him into his crate.

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How Crates Work For Dog Potty Training

The idea of using crates for dog potty training is actually quite simple. In our article on dog crates, we did mention that dogs are quite the prim and proper animals. They can’t put up with dirty places, so they always keep their living quarters clean.

But here’s the thing… the crate must be the perfect size (click our guide on dog crating to find out how to correctly size a dog crate). If a crate is too large, your dog will turn it into a lavish apartment containing a bathroom. He’ll just eliminate in the corner and use another corner far away from the mess as his living space.

Now, if for economical reasons you get an oversized crate for your pooch, then ensure you get the ones that come with dividing panels. This way, you can manage the size of the crate till your pup is full grown.

Usually, when your pup needs to go, she might alert you by scratching or whining. Ensure you do not delay and take her out pronto!

If you get all tardy and she does the doo doo in her crate, you’ll have major problems on your hands. She’ll automatically believe that there’s nothing wrong with going in her crate and then she’ll fine tune her craft and drop you cute little packages all around your house too.


2. Puppy Pads And Paper Training

Simple Solution Training Puppy Pads | Extra Large, 6 Layer Dog Pee Pads, Absorbs Up to 7 Cups of Liquid | 28x30 Inches, 100 Count Alright, we’ll take these two together because they are somewhat similar. Dr. Burch warns that puppy pad or paper training are two tricky methods to try. They are quite tricky because you would have to be reinforcing two separate options at the same time for your puppy.

The two options being going outside and going in approved spots inside the house.

Ideally, you’re supposed to teach your puppy to “go” outside. But we’re in the real world and few things are ideal.

For instance, a lot of dog parents work and can’t leave their doors open. So, they keep their pooches indoors and, of course, you don’t expect your pup to hold her bladder for so long. There’s also the case of the harsh winters for the really tiny dogs especially.

In these situations, you’d need to get a little creative like making do with puppy pads or paper in a particular spot in the apartment till Fido matures a bit. When your pup is mature, then you could let him go and do his business on his own outside as is appropriate.

Having explored these three methods,  let’s quickly look at something else that’s equally as important.

Tips To Make Your Dog Potty Training A Huge Success

Although we have discussed the three methods of dog potty training, that’s not all that there is to it. There are other tips you need to know if you want to make a huge success out of your dog potty training. We have all the tips here, so keep reading.

1. Create A Workable Schedule

There’s nothing like consistency when it comes to dog potty training and that’s why creating a schedule is so vital. Now, that you know that, there’s something else you ought to know.

Your pup’s bladder is really tiny.

So, normally, they can’t hold it in for long. Once water goes in one way, it’s most likely coming out the other way the next minute. The same goes for solid matter as well. You must make sure that you map out enough time for your pup to go about his business.

So, here’s a rule of thumb that most people work with as the experts have pointed out.

Speaking quite generally now, dogs can control their bladders for the number hours that corresponds to their age in months. Well, up until they are 9 months old. Because if you think about it, 10 to 12 hours is a mighty long time for anyone at all to hold it.

So, following this rule, a 6-month old pup can be expected to hold his pee for about 6 hours. But remember that we said we were speaking quite generally, right? Dogs are individuals so we have to account for that as well. Hence, there might be some little variations among puppies.


2. Take Your Puppy Out Frequently And Regularly

It’s important to monitor your activities as well as your puppy’s habits when creating a schedule. However, here are some pointers on the ideal times to take your puppy out on a typical day.

  • First thing every morning.
  • Last thing every night.
  • After a session of play.
  • After a while in the crate.
  • After napping.
  • After chewing on his bone or chew toy.
  • After meals.
  • After taking a drink.

As you can see, this would involve a lot of back and forth’s in one day. But don’t worry, it will pay off soon.

Now, if you work and it is impossible to take your dog with you to work, then you might have to hire a dog sitter. The dog sitter should have the schedule and help you maintain it with your pup.

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The more you enforce the message about the pottying, the faster your pup would get the message, and the faster you both can move on.


3. Observe And Supervise

In the period of dog potty training, it is important that you keep a keen eye on your dog. You have to learn her rhythm and signals. Some puppies have stronger bladders than others so they can hold their pee in for longer periods. Others will have to go while playing. Potty habits are quite idiosyncratic when it comes to puppies. So, you must observe.


4. Manage Their Diet

Because your dog’s digestive system is still maturing, it’s not really ready to handle a lot of food just yet. So, when it comes to feeding your pup, keep it to small meals several times a day. You could try 3 servings of small meals daily for a start.

The kind of food you serve your dog is also another matter because it’s what your dog takes in that he will pass out. Hence, you’ll also have to monitor your dog’s stool and check what he is passing out. If need be, then, by all means, change his diet after due consultation with your vet.

For instance, in cases, where your pup is passing out stools of large quantity, you might have to switch to a low residue diet. However, you must talk with your vet, first before you decide to switch his diet as we said.

Finally, overfeeding your puppy could cause him to have diarrhea. If your dog comes down with diarrhea, dog potty training would get a whole lot difficult. So, you want to avoid overfeeding in this critical period.


5. Praise Reinforces Good Behavior

Now, if an accident does happen, it makes no sense to scold your dog. It’s not going to change anything, and your pup will probably think that you’ve lost it.

And no, you cannot rub your pup’s nose into her own poop. Eww! Whoever thought of that?! It’s disgusting. And no, it does not work.

Now, scolding aside, let’s talk about something that actually works – praise!

Praising helps to reinforce good character. It’s really simple!

Whenever she goes pooping in the right place, just make her feel like a million bucks! That’s all. And be effusive too! Make it a celebration – twirl, clap, sing, treat. Do whatever! Make her feel like this is the accomplishment of all accomplishments! Like nothing in the entire world, not even landing on the moon is as great as pooping/peeing in the right place.

Then reward the good behavior. Voila! It’s actually that simple but so effective.


So What Happens When Accidents Happen?

Simple. Don’t freak out. Simply clean out the stain thoroughly. Make sure you take out every hint of urine smell in that spot because if they can smell it, they would go back there again. So, you must ensure that you use a good cleaner. Preferably, something that contains a deodorizer.

Now, even after cleaning, your dog will go back there again once he has gone there before. But this time, once you catch him squatting at that spot (or any other spot) again, pick him up immediately and take him out. And when he does the right thing? You know it. Praise!


How Long Does It Take For Dog Potty Training?

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For instance, an 8-week old puppy is quite different physiologically when compared to a 5-month old pup. So, training such a puppy would take a bit of a longer time than a 5-month old.

Again, if your pup comes from an elite breeder who was already teaching him the basics of dog potty training, then he’d have had a head start. That would also make training time a bit shorter, naturally.

Then there are some darling puppies that do not take even take such a long time. In a few days, they are straight and doing their business like a good boy.

But there are also dogs who are at the other end of the spectrum. Dogs like that could take up to several months and this is especially for those who were brought up in terrible situations before getting adopted.

However, generally, it’s rare to find dogs that can’t be potty trained.


Signs That Your Pup Needs To Go

Here are some signs that your pup needs to go.

  • Whining.
  • Circling.
  • Sniffing
  • Barking.
  • Barking or scratching at the door if he isn’t in a crate.

Now, remember, if she starts to do any of these, drop all and take her out immediately. The key to dog potty training is to prevent an accident in the house because it is more difficult to correct bad behavior than it is to reinforce a good one.

Now, sometimes, accidents still happen, and that’s why we are going to discuss the next sub

Cleaning Up Puppy Urine And Feces

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Now, we’re going to be real with you. It is so not easy to take out such stains. So, if you’re going to do this – own a pet that is — it might be a good idea to grab yourself some items. Items like a specialty pet stain and odor cleaner, because truth is that the uric crystals in a pup’s pee can only be removed by an enzyme cleaner.

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You see your common soap and such cleaning chemicals? They’ve got nothing on dog urine. It won’t do squat because they cannot break down those crystals we talked about. An enzymatic cleaner made specially for pet stains, though, will do the job perfectly.

Now, when it comes to cleaning up pet pee or poop stains, read the instructions on the packaging of the product you’re using. However, here are some general tips that could help.


1. Cleaning A Non-Porous Hard Floor

Examples of such floors include slate, vinyl, and glazed tiles.

  1. Blot up the urine with a cloth or paper towel / take out the poop.
  2. Use the cleaner.
  3. Leave for a few minutes so that the cleaner can get to work and come back when it’s dry.
  4. Wipe the residue off the surface by using a damp sponge.


2. Cleaning Porous Hard Floors

Examples of such floors include: concrete, unglazed ceramics, and hardwood floors.

  1. Blot up the urine with a cloth or paper towel / take out the poop.
  2. Use the cleaner.
  3. Use a cling wrap to cover the spot else the product could evaporate through the pores on the floor.
  4. Blot the surface dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  5. Wipe the residue off the surface by using a damp sponge.
  6. If the stain or odor remains, then repeat the process.


Cleaning A Carpet

  1. Blot up the urine with a cloth or paper towel / take out the poop.
  2. Use the cleaner.
  3. Leave for a few minutes so that the cleaner can get to work and come back when it’s dry.
  4. After the product air dries, put a bit of water on the spot and then blot it dry.

NB: Now, in all of these, always ensure that you take your dog very far away from the spot where you’re applying the cleaner. A lot of bad things could happen. Your dog might lick it up, step on it and lick his feet, or develop allergies. So, it’s best to keep them far away from the “crime scene”.

Now, before we go, a quick round up of all the important do’s and don’ts of dog potty training.


The Do’s And Don’ts Of Dog Potty Training

  • Do not punish your puppy after accident. It would make him fear you.
  • If you happen to “catch him in the act”, clap loudly. He’ll figure that he’s done something wrong. Next, take him to the appropriate spot outdoors and praise him after he eliminates.
  • If you don’t “catch him in the act” but you see evidence, there’s no point reacting. Your dog cannot make the mental connection. Just clean up the spot.
  • Stay outside with your pup for longer. The more he explores the outdoors, the easier it would be to curb bad behavior.
  • Always clean with a specialized enzymatic cleaner. Ammonia-based cleaners don’t eliminate odors as well as enzymatic cleaners, and once your pup can smell it, he’ll go back there and eliminate again.

Some Dog Potty Ideas To Try

So, where exactly can you get your pup to do his business? We have a few ideas.


1. A Potty Mat / Dog Potty

These usually come as plastic bases, and then there’s a patch of artificial grass right on top of the base. Cleaning is easy as you can use any enzymatic pet stain remover. But they have three main challenges:

  • Not all dogs like them.
  • It could make potty training difficult.
  • They are easy to clean but they stink a lot.


2. A Dog Litter Tray

It’s great for puppies, small breeds, and medium breeds. They can be used anywhere from a patio to a spot close to your dog’s bed outside.

Cleaning is easy, just follow instructions. Also, ensure that the size of the tray is right for your dog. Litter trays are easier to clean and stink way less than a dog potty.


3. Artificial Grass

This is another alternative to a potty mat. Just get artificial grass and place it in your yard. Some dogs won’t mind it, others will.

Artificial grass does not hold so much odor but then, there won’t be the natural decomposition like in real grass. It’s artificial, so there’s no bacteria to do any decomposition.


4. Real Grass

If you don’t have the time to keep cleaning and all, then use real grass. There are disposable grass patches you can use that can save you all the stress of cleaning. They are really great and hardly need to be changed, except say, monthly.



We’ve learned a lot, haven’t we? We hope you’re ready to take the bold step and dog potty train your pup. It might be tough at first, but in a few weeks (or days, depending), you’ll have a well-trained puppy on your hands, and then you can rest after a good job.

Two thongs before we run out of here…

One, the key is to prevent bad behavior. If he eliminates even once inside the house, he’ll keep going back to that spot. It is correctable but it is just an unnecessary hassle that can be avoided by creating a schedule.

Two, praises will take you everywhere, scolding will not. Your dog cannot make the mental connection between your outburst and his bad behavior, so he will repeat it again even if you scold him. On the other hand, he can make the mental connection between praise and rewards and good behavior. So, stick with praising him when he does something right and make it a celebration.

Mazel turv, soldier! And may the odds be ever in your favor as you and your pup move past this messy chapter together!