6 Steps To Potty Training A Puppy

Posted on December 7th, 2020 to Dogs

There’s no doubt about it, puppies are cute, but they’re also hard work. There’s the general training, the socializing, the feeding, and also the toilet training. So, to help you get ahead, here are some tips and tricks you need to take note of when it comes to toilet training your puppy.


First and foremost, remember your home is not a familiar environment for your puppy, and the first few days can be stressful for them. Everything is new, and your pup needs to get used to you and your movements just as much as it needs to get used to the new location – house, backyard and neighbourhood included. And it’s not just the sights that matter to your dog either, but also the smells and noises.

While you should start toilet training your puppy as soon as you get home, it takes time and patience, and every puppy is different.


There are signs your dog will show when she needs to go. These include sniffing around, fidgeting, and beginning to circle before squatting.

  • A whining or pacing dog may also be indicating that it needs to go to the toilet, as well as a dog that has been chewing on something for a while and suddenly moves to do something else.
  • If you keep a constant vigil on your pup during the toilet training process, watching out for these signs will mean fewer accidents.

Choose an area where you would like your pup to use the bathroom – this might be a pee pad on your apartment balcony or in a bathroom, or outside. The moment your pup indicates she needs to go, take her to this area. This teaches her that she needs to go to this spot or area right away. Picking her up as quickly as signs are noticed is crucial, so she associates the act of going outside with the feeling of having to go to the bathroom.

It’s also important to continually take your puppy out based on some type of routine. The key times are after waking up from a nap, after eating, and following playtime. Puppies can’t hold their bladder for that long, so give them plenty of opportunities to go. This will of course change as they get older.


A puppy learns associations in training. When it comes to going to the toilet, a puppy will associate an area with a ‘place to go potty’ due to the following reasons:

  • Smell of urine, feces or ammonia.
  • Location – when training, try to take them to the same spot every time. That way, your puppy will associate that spot with going potty (and reward/praise).
  • The feeling of the surface beneath its paws.
  • Physiological things such as after food, when he wakes up, and after play time.
  • Commands – when trained, dogs will associate certain words, commands, or sounds with potty time.

At first, it’s a good idea to take your puppy out frequently. Set a timer on your phone for every hour; especially if you have a young puppy who doesn’t have a large bladder to hold anything in. When the timer goes off, grab the leash, and take her to her designated area. Once there, be patient as your puppy may not go instantly. Give it time, but do not play while waiting otherwise your puppy may confuse potty time with play time.

If your puppy doesn’t go, don’t be alarmed. Simply bring her back inside, watch for the signs, and try again a little later. 

If your puppy does go potty, reward her straight away with natural treats, praise, or a combination of the two. This will teach her to make a positive correlation between going potty and rewards.

It’s also a good idea to have a little playtime outside once your puppy has successfully gone potty. This ensures your puppy associates outside with both a place to go potty and a place it can play, rather than one or the other.


It would be ideal if your puppy learns to go on command. While it won’t be needed every time, there will be moments when you’ll need your puppy to go potty at a specific time. For example, before bedtime, before work, or on a long car ride. Of course, like us they can’t always “go on command.” But, they will learn to try.

Word association is also important. When you say, “let’s go potty,” she or he will learn to associate those words with going outside.


One of the most important elements you need to remember when it comes to potty training is that accidents will happen. It’s a fact of life. 

It’s absolutely critical you don’t get angry. It’s highly unlikely your puppy had an accident on purpose, and getting angry will only make things worse. They will feel the strained emotions from you and this will lead to a more difficult experience for both of you.

Puppies do not have full control over their bladder. That’s why we begin potty training at a young age. Potty training is about teaching them how to hold and where they should be going so they know and understand where it is and is not appropriate. 

To add to this, you should never yell, scold, hit, or punish your dog for using the bathroom in the wrong spot. This does not teach your dog not to go there, but instead severely damages the bond you share and results in potty training becoming even more difficult than before.

When cleaning up an accident, it’s also important to use an ammonia-free cleaning product like Nature’s Miracle, and make sure you clean it well. If the area smells like ammonia (AKA the place your puppy goes potty), it may continue to be used as a potty area. 

If you notice your dog is about to go in the wrong place and you’d like to avoid an accident, interrupt her in a calm and cheerful way, and take her to the correct spot. Remember to praise her once she goes in the right area.


Positive reinforcement is a successful and effective method of potty training. Your dog will soon associate going to the toilet in the correct spot, with the fact that she’s doing something right.

The reward itself can be in the form of praise, whether it’s talking to your puppy, a long pat, a tummy rub or even some playtime. As long as you are talking and interacting in a positive and upbeat manner, you are reinforcing good behavior


There are other elements that need to be considered, especially if your dog is having a hard time picking up potty training. For example, being cooped up for too long can stall the process. Sometimes dogs, especially puppies, can’t hold on. If you’re going to go out for a while, it’s a good idea to leave your puppy in a spot where they can go if they need to when possible.

Also, remember your puppy has gone through a change coming into your home. It’s a brand new environment with new people, and this can affect the way she learns. Be kind to your puppy and give potty training some time. Remember, it’s not her natural instinct to be told where to go.


If you are really struggling with toilet training your puppy, please seek veterinary attention. Occasionally there may be a medical reason why your puppy has issues with toilet training. Your vet is the perfect professional to help you with this. Once you have received medical clearance, then you can consult with a canine behavior professional to determine how to proceed.

About Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino Schnauzer Odie

Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of  Beautify the Beast a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.