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puppy potty training

December 2, 2012

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How to Potty Train Properly

Guest post by Colby Morita of Puppy In Training

Almost 8 years ago I brought home my first puppy, Linus from the Carson Animal Shelter. However, before I even thought about bringing home a puppy I made up my mind that my puppy would have impeccable house manners and number 1 on my list was working on his potty training.

puppy potty training

I made it a point to buy and read several training books and also did a ton of research on puppy potty training. Over the past 8 years I've had a chance to foster dozens of puppies, raise guide dog pups from 7 weeks to 18 months of age, and encountered puppies of all ages as a puppy sitter. If there's one thing I learned during that time it is that puppies require patience especially when it comes to potty training your puppy.

A Beginner's Guide To Puppy Potty Training

The basic steps when potty training your puppy are very simple.  Your goal when potty training is to never let your puppy relieve himself in the wrong place and praise him when he goes in the right place. 

potty training puppies

When potty training your pup:

  • Be consistent.
  • Designate an area that your puppy will learn to relieve in.  We always teach our guide dog pups to potty in a spot in the backyard, but others may choose to use potty pads in the house.
  • Never allow your puppy to be out of your sight.
  • Keep your puppy on a schedule.  Feed him at regular times and then allow him to relieve himself right after being fed.
  • After your puppy has done his business make sure you give him tons of praise.

There are certain times you should always remember to take your puppy to his potty spot.

  • First thing in the morning
  • After every meal
  • Anytime they wake up
  • During and after playtime
  • Right before bedtime

Puppy Potty Training Tips

puppy playtime

Here are a few potty training tips I've learned over the years.

  • Be patient.  Puppies often times do not have full control of their bladder.  My pups have often times pee'd once outside then within seconds of being back in the house pee'd a second time.
  • Don't expect too much too soon.  It will probably take several weeks to several months before your puppy has perfected potty training especially if you have a young puppy.
  • Learn to identify when you puppy has to potty.  Circling, sniffing around, looks confused/distracted, starts whining etc are sure signs that your pup has to potty.
  • Play makes pee.  You'll notice that if your puppy is playing he will often pee about every 5 minutes.
  • If you're crate training your puppy and he's having accidents while you’re sleeping try setting your alarm once or twice in the middle of the night so you can take your puppy out and relieve him.

What should you do when your puppy does have an accident in the house?

If you don't catch him in the act then you can't do anything, but clean up the mess.  It's important to clean up any messes with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle.  If you do not thoroughly clean up the accident your puppy will smell the urine and be compelled to potty in the same spot. If you do catch him about to squat to potty in the house try making a loud abrupt noise like clapping our hands together or banging the wall to interrupt your puppy.  Immediately bring him to his potty spot and praise him if he goes potty at his regular place.

puppy toilet training

A Few Things We Do When Potty Training Our Guide Dog Pups

There are a few differences when we work on potty training our guide dog puppies.  You may or may not want to implement a few of these tips with your puppy.

  • Our guide dog pups are not allowed to potty during their walks.  We ask them to potty before we start our walk or at the end when we finish our walk.
  • We teach our puppies the command "Get Busy" that tells them it's time to relieve themselves.
  • We teach our puppies to potty on all different surfaces including grass, cement, dirt, rocks, gutters, sand etc.
  • We do not allow our guide dog pups to "mark"
  • Our guide dog puppies always relieve on leash.
  • We crate train all of our guide dog puppies which is very helpful when potty training because most puppies will not potty where they sleep.

dog toilet training


Those are few tips and hints that will hopefully get you started on your puppy potty training. Have you potty trained your puppy?  What is the number 1 tip you would give someone who is just starting the process of potty training their pup?  Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Colby Morita is a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America and has been raising and training puppies for over 6 years. He's been writing to the blog and sharing his puppy training tips from his experiences as a guide dog puppy raiser since August, 2007.

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