How to Potty Train Your Dog: A Little Guide to House Training

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At Middle Tennessee Dog Trainers,, we often (okay, like every day!) get asked about Potty Training. Here, we give you some quick tips to help you with your new addition!

House training a dog or puppy is an important part of taking care of them. Training your dog to understand the appropriate time and place to defecate requires patience and consistency. It also harbours a harmonious relationship between you and them because frequent accidents at home are why most pet parents leave their pets at shelters.

Proper supervision, persistence, and positive reinforcement are key components for building a habit of eliminating in the right spot.

You can start potty training your pup between 12 and 16 weeks because their bladder is not fully developed until 12 weeks. Some breeds, you are able to start potty training when you first get them home. And if it’s an adult dog you brought to your house, start right away. Since small puppies cannot hold their bladders for too long, you may have to make frequent trips (every one or two hours) outside together with your pup.

It usually takes 4-6 months to completely potty train a dog. However, some pups may take longer, about a year.

Steps to Potty Train Your Puppy or Dog

To successfully house-train a dog or pup, you would like the simplest approach to go about it. From picking a spot to introducing a cue here may be a strategy to assist you with potty-train your puppy or dog.

Pick a Spot

When you see your puppy or dog needs to go out to eliminate, take the pup to the spot you would like them to defecate and wait 2-5 minutes at least.

Set a Schedule

Setting a schedule to take your pup out to defecate can make house training for you and your dog easier. It helps the dog understand there is time for naps, meals, and play. Also, a uniform feeding schedule can prevent accidents. Feed your pup three to four meals every day at the same time.

Follow a set routine to take your dog or puppy out consistently that should include:

  • Immediately after they awaken in the morning
  • After meals and drinks of water
  • After naps
  • After high-energy times (running or playing)
  • Before bed
  • During the night, before they can hold their feces overnight
  • Before leaving home

Learn the Signs

Constantly supervising your dog is vital for successful house training. You will avoid accidents inside by recognizing when your dog needs to go out. Common signs that dogs display are sniffing, wandering off, moving in circles, whining, or sitting by the door.

Set up a Crate

Limiting your dog’s space at home is another critical part of potty training; you can do that by setting up a crate inside and slowly increasing their space once they are house-trained. Dogs are instinctively den animals, so getting a crate is definitely a great way to house-train your pup because they dislike sleeping or eating where they defecate.

Use crates when you cannot directly supervise your dog, and also during nap and bedtime. Train your pup to be comfortable in a crate to avoid accidents indoors. Selecting the correct crate size is crucial during house training. It should be large enough for your pup or dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. If there is more room, your dog will make a space in a corner for defecation inside the crate.

Never use crates as a punishment – all of your crate training efforts will go down the drain. Your pup will associate crates with getting punished and will not use them.

Use Positive Reinforcement

The key to successful potty training is associating defecating outside with rewards like praise and treats or favourite toys. It is commonly referred to as Positive reinforcement.

Praise immediately after the dog defecates outside so they understand the reward is for going out to eliminate.

It helps your dog recognize that elimination outside is normal behaviour and prevents accidents. Also, avoid punishing your dog for toileting indoors and stay vigilant of the signals once they need to go and immediately take them out and offer praise with treats.

Use a Leash When Taking the Dog Out

You must always take your dog out on a leash during the house training process to the designated area for defecation. This way, you’ll be there to reward and to play with them afterwards to create a positive relation between defecation and going back inside.

Introduce a Cue

When you become familiar with your dog or pup’s elimination pattern, you can introduce a cue like “toilet” or “potty” before or when they are about to defecate. It helps connect the word with elimination.

How to Deal with Setbacks?

House training a pup needs patience, a positive attitude, and consistency. Because most times, accidents recur again, and you go back to basics. To start over or witness regression while potty training your dog can be frustrating, but you can do it again if you have house-trained your dog once.

However, it is also imperative to understand what is causing these accidents to retract their training. Various factors may cause these setbacks, such as your dog needing more toilet breaks, developing brains, stress, anxiety, or other medical issues. Here are the ways to get your pup back on track and deal with setbacks:

Deep Clean the Previous Accidents

Dogs like to mark the areas with their scent to assert dominance. And they often do that by peeing in the same area to mark their territory.

So, you will need to deep-clean the area where your dog previously had the accident to clear the scent because the dog may pick up the smell and mark it as the defecating spot.

Stay Calm

Never yell at your dog for accidents indoors; you need to remain calm because yelling or punishing the dog only makes matters worse. It can cause stress or anxiety in your dog.

When your dog eliminates inside, calmly clean the area and if it poops, pick it up and take it out of the house to the proper spot so that your dog recognizes the correct place for defecation.

Take Your Dog Out More Frequently

One reason dogs have accidents inside the home is not getting frequent breaks. Puppies and small breeds have tiny bladders that become full sooner than you think. So, take your pup out frequently, every one to two hours, or whenever you see a signal from your dog.

Be Patient and Consistent

The most important part of dealing with setbacks is consistency and absolute patience because you may need to return to the basics of house training.

You can retract the training by following the exact routine you did when potty training your dog. Staying vigilant of the signs your dog displays when they need to go out may help prevent accidents indoors.

When to Get Professional Help?

Now that you have tried everything to get your pup back on track and it is still having accidents indoors, you may need to check with their veterinarian to rule out any medical condition such as urinary tract infection (UTI), bladder infection, kidney problems, parasites, diabetes, or canine dementia.

And if the cause is stress or anxiety, the best would be to see a veterinarian and get medication.

At Off Leash K9 Training, , we help guide you regarding potty training, in our Puppy Classes and also our Puppy Board & Trains.


Potty training a dog can be challenging but with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement it is surely achievable. process may be time-consuming and may have setbacks along the way but being patient and understanding the underlying issues helps bounce back and reinforce good behavior. Also, it is critical for a bonding and pleasant relationship between you and your dog.


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