9 Genius Tips Potty Training a Puppy

As soon as you and little Rocky locked eyes, you knew that it was meant to be. And now that you’ve brought your new pal home, you love that sweet, slobbering furball even more. What you don’t love however, is having to buy a new Moroccan area rug (eye roll). Time to train your pooch. Whichever method you use—crate training, trips outdoors or paper training—these clever tips for potty training your puppy will come in handy.

26 Things Only Dog Owners Understand

cute dog looking up at owner
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1. Keep An Eye On Your Pup

We know, easier said than done. But try to be as vigilant as possible when it comes to looking out for telltale signs that Ina Pawten needs to go. Those are: sniffing, circling or just hanging around the door. Even if you’re not 100 percent sure she needs to, take her out. Better safe than sorry.

puppy eating food off the floor
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2. Stick To A Schedule

Feed your puppy at the same time every day and take him to the same spot each time to relieve himself (preferably not your neighbor’s front stoop) where his scent will prompt him to go. Consistency is key.

woman walking her beagle puppy in park
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3. Use A Leash

Even if you have a fenced yard, it’s a good idea to use a leash when Olive has to go. Otherwise, she’s likely to get distracted (all the smells!) and forget to do what she came out there to do. Get down to business and then let her run around (she’ll think of it as a reward for good behavior).

woman playing with her puppy outdoors
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4. Go Often

The American Kennel Club says that as a rule of paw thumb, dogs can control their bladders for as many hours as they are months old (up to about nine months). So your four-month-old Cockapoo should be OK to hold it in for about four hours. However, puppies typically need to go out first thing in the morning and after napping, eating and playing and again before bed (so yeah, pretty often).

cute puppy being tickled
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5. Positive Reinforcement

Whenever your four-legged friend does his business outside, lay it on thick with the praise. Sure, you might look like a nut standing on the street and cheering because Charlie pooped, but puppies respond well to rewards (particularly if they’re edible). And don’t rush back into the house as soon as he does his business either—dogs are smart and will learn to delay so that they can stay outside for longer.

woman holding up and playing with her puppy
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6. Don’t Punish After The Fact

Shoving your dog’s nose on the spot where she peed doesn’t help if it’s hours after it happens, say experts. Your dog doesn’t have the memory or the ability to connect your anger to what they did. If you do catch your pup mid-action, clap once or say something like “oh-oh” to let her know that this behavior is wrong and then take her outside.

cute jack russell sitting on carpet
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7. Remember That Accidents Happen

Even the most perfect pooch is going to have a mishap or two. Frustrating? Yes. But it’s not the end of the world. Overreacting will only scare your puppy, which could make her afraid to relieve herself in front of you (cue the sneaky behind-the-sofa messes).

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8. Clean Up After

It’s not like you were planning on leaving little Fido’s feces in the middle of the living room for all to see, but make sure you really clean up. That’s because a) Ew and b) Any remaining odor could tell your pup that this is a perfect potty spot. Try Nature’s Miracle Advanced Pet Trigger Sprayer for stubborn stains or BISSELL Pet Stain & Odor Pretreat that’s specifically designed with carpets and upholstery in mind.

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9. Remember That Your Puppy Is Special

But you already knew that, right? What we mean is that just because it took your friend’s lab three days to get trained doesn’t mean that your own little fluff ball (even if it’s the same breed) will do the same. It typically takes about four to six months for a puppy to be fully housetrained, but some may take longer (even up to a year). When it comes to cuddling, though, they’re usually experts from day one.

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Alexia Dellner

Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...
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