Stafordshire terrier puppy during obedience training

The Best Way to Potty Train a Brand New Puppy


Paper training, crate training, and frequent trips outdoors are the three methods used by most pet owners. Which works best?

Keep in mind that puppies are not able to go long hours without relieving themselves. Getting your puppy on a regular routine during house training will set him up for success!

Expert trainer, Victoria Stillwell explains that potty training just takes patience and consistency:

"With a combination of consistency, common sense, and positive reinforcement protocols, you can quickly train any puppy to toilet appropriately."



And regardless which method you use (crate train or paper train), remain vigilant. Based on experience, puppies will need to eliminate at the following times:

  • Right after meals
  • After training sessions
  • Immediately after waking
  • After vigorous play
  • During or after a stressful event (first car ride may apply here)
  • When overly excited

So while you're getting your puppy settled in their new home, make sure they are making frequent trips outdoors. The list above makes it seem like these trips outdoors are every few hours and they are! At night you will need to get out of bed multiple times - set your alarm!

Always reward him when he's done doing his business. A puppy needs a lot of positive reinforcement. And never punish your puppy if he has an accident in the house. Accidents WILL happen. Interrupt them with an "oops" and take him outside to finish.


How to Housebreak a Puppy

There are a few options that you can start out with (or combine) and it's all a matter of training. These first few months are critical and one of the most important training periods. The more time you spend on this, the shorter this awkward stage will last.

Paper Training (Potty Pads) vs. Crate Training

A puppy is considered fully immunized against their core diseases of adenovirus (hepatitis), distemper, and parvovirus when he has received a vaccination for these diseases after the age of 16 to 18 weeks.

When it's safe for the puppy to be outside (after 16 weeks), pet owners can make the transition from the indoors to the outside. Expert trainer, Stillwell adds:


"People in urban living situations with no yard tend to 'paper train' their puppies until the pups have had all their vaccinations at approximately sixteen weeks old."

So using indoor potty pads for those first few months takes patience but it works for many puppy parents. Here are the steps:

1. Put down potty pads or pretreated puppy pads (these pads have a scent on them that helps with urination) and encourage your puppy to use these areas for going to the bathroom.

2. Whenever you see him starting into their pre-potty pattern, (walking around in circles) pick them up and carry him over to their potty spot then give them lots of praise. 

3. After he is using the papers consistently, they can moved closer to the door and then ultimately outside. The transition is made from concentrating the toilet habits to one spot inside the home to one spot outside the home. 


Pictures of a dog in a travel crate

Crate Training 101

Some pet parents swear that crate training is the way to go! Make sure the crate isn't too large but just big enough to fit their sleeping blanket. Dogs don't like to make a mess in their crate, since that is their den.

1.  Whenever the puppy is home but you cannot tend to him, he is placed in the crate.

2. When you're cooking, on your iPad, or even away from the home you should potty your puppy outside in their fave spot and then put the puppy in the crate.


3. The first thing you do when you take the animal out of the crate is another trip outside.

4. No food or water goes in the crate, just a blanket and overnight is definitely crate time. (You shouldn't be leaving them in their crate for long periods of time anyway so it's ok not to leave water or chew toys in there). 

Don't forget about frequent trips outside using bell training. 

In order to train your puppy to maintain good habits, frequent bathroom breaks are key. Bell training uses a dog doorbell. The bell is only supposed to be used when your dog needs a potty break.

1. Teach your dog how to press the doorbell. You can ring it yourself the first few times, but make sure your dog gets familiar with their doorbell. They will soon learn that they can use their nose or paw to ring the bell.


2. Once your puppy successfully rings the bell, it's time to go outside. (Positive reinforcement and treats are helpful while they're learning to press the doorbell on their own).

3. Every time your dog is ready for a break, remind them to ring the bell.

Eventually they will learn that they must ring the bell before you open the door to go outside. Baby gates are always a great way to keep him confined or a six-foot leash attached to you will ensure your puppy isn't wandering if they cannot be monitored. Enzymatic cleaners are great for accidents as this type of cleaner will avoid future accidents in the same spot.

Remember that you must take the time to train your dog! Young puppies don't know any better!


Potty Training Essentials

1. AmazonBasics Dog and Puppy Training Pads, Heavy Duty & Regular

I know many people who like to use an extra bathroom as the designated potty area. Housebreaking a new puppy can be tough! You'll want to keep the urine smell hidden.

2. Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator

If your new dog happens to miss the puppy pad, no biggie! Enzyme cleaner is a miracle worker.


3. Luckyiren Upgraded Puppy Bells Dog Doorbells for Door Knob

The training process can be fun. I think bell training adds some excitement.

Have you tried housebreaking a puppy? Let us know everything you learned in the comments!

This post was originally published on March 24, 2018.


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