How to toilet train a puppy-Complete Step by Step guide

Potty training a newly adopted dog or purchased puppy is vital for every dog owner. Also, if you are a potential dog owner, you should start learning the basics of how you can toilet train him early on.

You have just bought your new puppy home, and you are all excited but a problem arises, the pup is not toilet trained.

So, you decide to look for ways to do it and soon find it to be a frustrating ordeal.

But it has to be done in the right way and the in long run, the pup will eventually get it. You just have to make sure that you are doing it right.

That is why we prepared this article for any dog owner is looking to toilet train his or her pup.

We have curated a guide on how you can do it and also answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

So, let us get right into it.


Why is puppy potty training important

Potty training for your puppy should start the moment he gets home which will make it easier for you in the long run.

Whether your canine friend is going to spend most of his time outdoors or cozying on the sofa, he will need to be toilet trained.

Below are some of the reasons that this needs to be done;

  • You will not be worried about what is going to happen even when your dog is indoors.
  • The furry friend will not be eliminating wherever he feels like but rather at the appropriate places.
  • Visiting other family members or friend’s houses will not be a problem.
  • Your car will be safe from dog poop or pee.
  • If the dog starts eliminating abnormally and in inappropriate places you will know to check if he has any underlying health or digestive issues.

Here are some key tips on how you can toilet train you puppy

1. Prepare a toilet training schedule

Having a routine and schedule to follow during training is one of the most important things that you can do.

It will also help you monitor your progress you will be able to celebrate once you have hit certain milestones.

You should know that your pooch is most likely going to want to pee during certain times of the day and this can help you reduce the number of incidents.

However, these schedules may not be important for you if your pup cannot wait for a designated time to soil. You, therefore, need to adapt according to his needs.

Potty training schedule for a puppy that is about 8 weeks old;

You should note that the times mentioned below may vary slightly from one puppy to the other.

2 am Most puppies will only need to potty at this time only during the 1st days while others may take about 2 weeks.
6 am It will not be easy to do this for the first week of staying with the puppy
7 am Or after feeding the puppy in the morning
9 am This can also be done in the mid-morning
11 am This is another time for your pup to potty which can also come after the second meal of the day. Most pups tend to take a nap after this
1 pm After the nap do not forget to take your adorable pooch out
3 pm Take him out at this time which is probably after he has had his 3rd meal of the day
5 pm Take the puppy to pee before he gets into the evening excitement
7 pm You can take him out during this period to after he has had his final meal for the day
9 pm If your pup has not slept by this time, take him out
11 pm For those that love to watch late-night shows, take your puppy out for the final time before putting him to sleep

Toilet schedule for a puppy that is between 3 and 4 months old;

You may need to adapt and prepare your potty training schedule according to the amount of progress that you may have made.

Most pups at this age tend to pee after every 3 hours while others may take longer and that is why you may need to tweak the schedule accordingly.

6 am This is still an urgent time that should not be skipped even at this age
9 am The mid-morning potty is also important.

Can also be some minutes after breakfast

12 am Should be done after the second meal of the day
3 am Mid-afternoon potty is essential
6 pm After a play session, take the puppy out.

Can be done after the pup has had his final meal of the day

9 pm By this age, most puppies are probably not asleep yet
12 pm This should be the last trip before taking the pooch to sleep

2. Look for signs that your canine may need to pee

There are certain things that you can look at to know when your dog wants to potty.

For your potty training to be successful, you should first understand the development stages of a dog.

Some pups may alert you directly when they want to potty while others may do very subtle things.

It gets easier to recognize the signs as the dog gets older.

The most common potty signs are;

  • Whining as if he is trying to tell you “I need to go potty.”
  • Sniffing
  • Change in behavior which may happen suddenly. Sometimes the pups may appear restless and have a student shift of attention.
  • The dog  may lick or sniff his groins
  • Circling a particular area is a sign that the canine may want to pee.
  • Scratching the door with his paws moving towards the door
  • The pooch may start looking for any soiled areas in your house.

3. Get to know the potty time frame of your puppy

Many dog owners ask how often their puppies should be taken out.

The truth is that there is no specific answer to that and is varies for one pup pt the other.

One of the best formulas to calculate this on your own is known as the month-plus-one formula. You simply take your pup’s age in months and 1 to it.

For example, if your puppy is 2 months old, you just add 1 to get 3. This means that your puppy will need to potty every three hours.

However, you cannot rely on this rule because as we all know no bladder counts and there several things that can affect how much your puppy wants to potty such as how much water he has had.

Puppies that are between 7 and 12 weeks old may need to be taken out after every 30 minutes.

They may also need to be taken to potty after;

  • A play session
  • Having a meal
  • They wake up
  • Depending on how active he is he will need to be taken out often

4. Use pee pads and litter boxes

First, let us do a quick recap of what you need to know by now;

  1. Have a routine
  2. Understand the signs to look for when your pup wants to potty
  3. Get to know how long it takes your puppy to pee

Not even may have access to a yard with grass. Some dog owners may be living in apartments and their dogs will need to potty too.

Also, it may take time for the habit of taking your dog out to solidify, especially if you are a novice dog owner.

You will need to come up with a way to help your pup potty if any of the above scenarios apply to you.

Get a peepad

A dog pee pad
A dog pee pad

There are different types of pee pads some of which are washable and reusable.

Dogs are attracted by the scent of their potty and if a dog pees in one place he will probably want to do it again at the same place.

Having a peepad helps with this.

Praise your puppy or give him his favorite treat when he potties on the pad which should encourage him to do it more.

Also if he shows any signs that he may want to eliminate place him on the pad.

However, you should note that using a peepad can make training your pooch to go out more difficult. Other puppies may also confuse the carpet for a peepad.

Use a dog litter box

Dog litter boxes can be made of real grass patches or even synthetic grass which act as absorbents.

These boxes can be kept in-house or even at the balcony.

They can be used the same way as pee pads.

5. Potty train using a puppy crate

This is a great short term solution for house training a puppy.

A crate can be used during sleeping times to avoid accidents from happening at night. It will also allow you to monitor the pup in case he needs to go eliminate until you let him out.

You should not use the crate for the pup to eliminate.

The crate should be large enough with enough space for the pup to move around, sleep and stand but not too large that he uses one of its corners to potty.

Make sure that there is enough water for the pooch in the crate of he is going to stay in it for too long.

For the 1st 8 months, there should always be someone to take the dog out if you will not be home during the potty periods.

6. Clean up thoroughly in case of an accident

First, let us look at some of the things that you should not do if an accident occurs;

  • Never rub the dog’s nose against the pee or poop as this may prompt him to hide the next time he wants to eliminate.
  • You should not shout at the puppy or punish him after the accident. This can be very damaging to the relationship between you and your canine.

What to do;

  • Ignore the pee/poop- This may sound ridiculous but if your puppy eliminates, you will need to ignore it and clean up.
  • Let the pooch know that he has done something wrong using a firm but friendly voice while taking him to the potty spot that you have designated for the dog.

The toilet stains may be hard to remove but with an odor and stain cleaner, you can easily do it.

Enzyme cleaners formulated for dogs will help clean uric acid that is found in a dog’s urine.

Never use any product that content ammonia as it smell like urine.

Dogs have extremely great senses of smell and can easily find any areas that they may eliminate before.

Puppy Toilet Accident

7. Use positive training methods

You should reward and praise the dog when he does what is desired of him.

Depending on what your pooch responds best to, make sure you use to reward the time every time he potties in the designated area.

Be consistent, patient, and use kind words to appease and encourage the dog.

If your dog is stubborn stick to a strict and consistent routine.

Some pups may start having accidents even after they have learned the best spots to soil and this can be a sign of a medical complication.

8. Be aware of surface preferences

Young puppies develop a preference for a surface to the toilet on. Each time a dog toilets on a type of surface they are more likely to search for it again next time.

This is why puppy pee pads can create issues with long time toilet training.

They teach puppies to look for soft cloth-like surfaces such as rugs, carpet, bedding, and clothing. The best way to help your dog develop the correct surface preference is to take them to the real thing as much as you can.

When that isn’t possible try to use something that mimics the texture of your goal surface like fake grass over the top of puppy pee pads.

The older your dog is the more ingrained the surface preference will be. You will have to be patient and persistent to change into a more appropriate choice.

Frequently asked questions

How can I train my dog to potty in the bathroom?

You can train your dog to use the bathroom with the help of a peepad which can be placed on the bathroom floor or the stand of the shower.

Using a pad made of real grass or grass-like materials comes highly recommended.

You should not use anything that can absorb the dog’s urine as you potty train him and this will include rugs or soft beds. This can help you if you have a tight schedule and if you do not have enough time to frequently take the dog out.

What is the best age to start potty training your dog

You should start potty training and housebreaking when the pup is between 6 and 8 weeks old. Note that pups have short attention spans and teaching them advanced commands and tricks should wait till the dog is at least 6 months old.

How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

Potty training a puppy can take an average of between 6 and 8 months. However, if you are very consistent and stick to a routine this may take a shorter time.

More advanced potty training for your pooch

Teach you pup to pee on command

There are cues and commands that you can use for your puppy to eliminate.

Choose a cus that you can use in the public for example “go potty,” “get busy” or “sing-song.”

However, it is up to you to choose the best command or cue for your pup and stick to it. Your tone should also be consistent through and through.

Use the cue every time the dog is eliminating calmly and quietly. This can be outside or even indoors on a prepaid.

You should let the canine learn to associate peeing with the cue and after he finishes reward or praise the dog.

These commands should be used when the pooch shows any signs that he wants to relieve himself.

As soon as you notice any of the signs that we have mentioned above go ahead and say “go potty” or whichever cue you may deem to be the best for your pup.

It will take time for your puppy to learn this and you should do your due diligence by being patient and consistent.

Remember that you cannot use to cue to make the puppy pee if he does not want to pee. 

Training your doggo to use a bell

For this, you will need the dog’s favorite treats and a bell.

There are different bell sizes for every dog that you can buy cheaply that you can hang on the door and they will alert you when the dog wants to go out.

Our objective in this is to train the dog to touch the bell using his free will.

You want to present the bell to the pup and saying “yes” after he touches it using his nose. Reward the doggo once he has touched the bell then remove it.

If he does not respond, do not do anything but rather take the bell out of the dog’s sight.

  • Present
  • Reward if he touches
  • Remove

Repeat this at least 10 times in a row and after several intervals through his training session, he will get it right at least once.

After you are confident with it you can now progress and makes thing a bit challenging.

Put the bell slightly farther away for him to make an effort to reach for it.

Once he can stretch his neck. move towards or reach for the bell on either side, it will be ready for hanging on the door.

Teach him to ring the bell when he wants to go outside

Give the dogs a treat and praise him when he touches the bell as it hangs on the door handle.

For the next days after he learns to ring the bell, let him go out every time he touches the bell.

Doing this has its cons as every time he rings the bell he may not be wanting to pee.

So, if this is the route you decide to take be careful fo it.

My final thoughts

If by any chance you get stuck in the process, seek help from your mates or professional dog trainer.

You can also join dog training forums and visits another website that offer tips on dog training.

Remember that you do not have to do it alone.

You can also leave any questions and feedback that you may have in the comment section below.

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