Potty training

How do you potty train a puppy?

Potty training will go best when the crate training method is used.  This means that you will use a crate (small wire crate, or plastic pet taxi) to confine your puppy whenever you are not able to watch him for short periods of time.  The puppy will need to be taken out to go potty every 45 min. to an hour.  Take the puppy through the same door to the same spot in the yard each time.  If you wish to litter, paper or potty pad train you puppy, take him to his litter, paper or potty pad every hour.  Puppies will by instinct wish to keep their eating and sleeping area (their den) clean and will hold their potty as long as they can.  By using the crate, the puppy's instinct will be working for you, and he will be pottying when and where you want him to.  

If you are going to be playing and interacting with your puppy, he would be free to be out of his crate as long as you like.  He will start to circle and sniff and look for a place to potty when he has to go and when you are watching him, you can quickly take him to his potty spot.  By watching closely, you will soon learn your puppy's individual body language.  Minimize your pup's chances of making a mistake by predicting when he will need to relieve himself.  The critical times to watch are : as soon as he awakens, as soon as he finishes a meal, first thing in the morning, after a play session, and of course, as soon as you take him out of his crate.  Do NOT let your puppy run lose when your eyes are not on him....even for a couple minutes.  Each time your puppy has an accident, he is being trained to potty in that spot.  Each  time the puppy goes in the right spot, he is being trained to relieve himself there.  Consistent training will bring consistent results.  

During the times you will be gone longer than the puppy can hold it, I recommend placing your puppy in an exercise pen.  Put the puppy's pet taxi/crate inside the exercise pen with the door open, or off.  Cover the floor inside the exercise pen with newspapers and leave water and food available for your puppy.  He will get accustomed to pottying on the newspaper when you are gone (he has no other choice as the whole area will be covered), and will become paper trained during the times you are not at home.  After a couple weeks, gradually reduce the amount of the pen that is covered with newspaper.  The puppy will be used to pottying on the paper, and will continue to potty on the newspaper, even when you reduce the amount of the pen that is covered to only one or two sheets of paper.  When you are home, continue with the routine of crating your puppy, and taking him out to potty every hour.

I have found it very helpful to have an exercise pen for the house, and one for the yard.  The exercise pen inside the house is puppy's safe haven when you are not at home.  Place the other exercise pen in the spot you wish your dog to use as a permanent potty spot, both as a puppy and adult..  Put your puppy in the exercise pen when it is time for him to potty, and step back a few steps (or watch him through the door or window).  This will help your puppy get down to the business of pottying more quickly than if he was on a leash, or running loose.


Andrea Arden is a nationally-recognized Professional Dog Trainer and Author.  Her pamphlet,  Step by Step Kennel Training is one I have often recommended to my puppies new owners as it is a quick, easy read that covers all the basics of potty training using the crate training method.  Best of all, it also covers some of the common pitfalls of potty training.   Unfortunately, this pamphlet is no longer available.  I have scanned my copy so you can read it here.  If you have additional questions about potty training, take a few minutes to read through the PDF's of Andrea's pamphlet shown below.  If the article is sideways in Adobe when you open it, go to View, Rotate View, Clockwise, and then it will be easier to read:)

Table of Contents

Pages 1-2

Pages 3-4

Pages 5-6

Pages 7-8

Pages 9-10

Pages 11-12

Pages 13-14

Pages 15-16


Basic Obedience

Andrea also give simple instructions of how to start teaching your puppy basic obedience, like sit, stay, etc.  The PDF's for this part of her pamphlet are shown below.

Pages 17-18

Pages 19-20

Pages 21-22




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