How Do I Potty Train a Puppy?

owner teaching her dog

Unless you have taken out shares in cleaning products, potty training your puppy will almost certainly be one of your biggest priorities when it comes to her care. Teaching your new furbaby to control her bladder and bowels and where to do her business may feel like a monumental task, but with the right training can be a lot easier than you expect.

Before you get started, there are a few things that you should take into consideration. The first is that puppies have very poor bladder control, and they usually need to urinate at least every hour or so. They can also urinate spontaneously if they get over excited, so if she has been out walking or playing you can expect her to need to ‘go’ more often. Finally, it will take your puppy some time to become aware of their toileting needs. For this reason, although you can start taking her outside every hour to give her the opportunity to relieve herself from six weeks of age, puppies can rarely start full toilet training until they reach three months old.

How do I know if my puppy need to go potty?

It is not always easy to tell if your puppy needs to empty her bladder or bowels. However, typical signs that she may be ready to go include sniffing the floor, looking restless, circling the room or trying to access somewhere where she has already been to the toilet – accident or otherwise.

Beginning potty training

Frequency with which you take your puppy outside to go to toilet is the most important thing to remember in the early days of potty training her. This is especially true if you have a small breed, as they tend to have smaller bladders and faster metabolisms, meaning that they need to do their business more often.

Start when you first wake up in the morning, and then choose a schedule to follow during the day. Most owners start with hourly and then as the days go on, try and increase the length of time between visits outside. When you take your pet out to go to toilet, take her to the same place every time. If you have been previously using puppy pads, put some soiled paper in the area where you wish your pet to ‘go’. The scent will help her to make the association between that location and her urine. Stay with her outdoors until she goes or until five minutes have passed. Then bring her back inside for around 10/15 minutes and try again. You may need to repeat the process a number of times until she goes, and then go back to hourly or two-hourly bathroom visits.

What if I catch my puppy doing her business indoors?

You need to try and keep a very close eye on your puppy when you are indoors as if you notice that she tries to urinate or defecate somewhere she shouldn’t, you can get her attention and hopefully get her outside in time. If she does make a mess somewhere inside, cleaning it very thoroughly using disinfectant so that the scent is removed. However, you should avoid ammonia-based products as they can actually cause your puppy to return to the scene of the accident.

Night time toileting

Your puppy probably won’t manage a full night without needing to empty her bladder until she is around five or six months old. This means that you should expect to get up in the night to let her out every few hours. Install a yard light to make the prospect of going in the dark a little less daunting.

Be patient

Accidents do and will happen, but it is important not to punish your furbaby when they occur. This is counterproductive and may make her nervous about going to the toilet at all. Instead, calmly clean it up and remain vigilant for further puddles!

How long will it take to train my puppy to become potty trained?

Every puppy is different and some take to potty training much more quickly than others. However, on average it can take between three and six months for a dog to become fully house-trained.

If you would like more information about potty-training your puppy, please contact our veterinarian.