How To Potty Train A Puppy

Picking up your puppy is probably the most exciting part about puppy raising, but as soon as all the cuteness has warn off (actually some of the cuteness will wear off the first time he piddles in the house) one of the first things you will think about is How To Potty Train A Puppy.

When we first started raising guide dog puppies over five years ago we received a guide dog puppy manual on how to train a puppy. As guide dog puppy raisers we follow all the rules and puppy training guidelines outlined in our puppy manual and when it comes to potty training our puppy we simply turn to page XX in our manual and follow the instructions on how to potty train a puppy.

So today we’re going to discuss how we go about potty training puppies.

How To House Train A Puppy

Here are some of the basics we are given on how to potty train a puppy from our guide dog puppy training manual:

How To Potty Train Your Puppy

Reggie A Golden Retriever Guide Dog Puppy In Training

House training is obviously one of the first things you’ll want to teach your puppy.  If done properly, house training is not difficult.  The key is to be consistent.  Never allow the puppy to be unattended or out of your sight.  If you are unable to do this remember to use confinement as a means of prevention. Keep your puppy on a schedule.  Feed him at regular times and always give him a chance to relieve himself right after being fed.  Using a designated area in your yard, let your pup have plenty of time (fifteen minutes) to relieve itself.  Encourage the puppy to go by using words such as “Get Busy”.  (That is the command used at GDA).  When the puppy has done his business, praise him lavishly.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to give your puppy a chance to relieve himself at a minimum of these times:

  1. First thing in the morning.
  2. After each meal.
  3. After a nap.
  4. After playtime.
  5. Right before you and your pup retire for the night.
Remember your puppy should always relieve on leash.  It is important to train the puppies to relieve on leash in a variety of surfaces (grass, gravel, cement etc…)
As I mentioned these house training tips are from our guide dog puppy manual and don’t need to be followed to a “T” if you’re training your puppy as a family pet.  One thing I wish I would have known sooner is to train my puppies to relieve on different surfaces.  My rescue pup, Linus learned to pee and poop on the grass and was potty trained in less than two weeks.  However, when he was nine months old we took him camping and he would not go potty on the dirt.  There was no grass and we were worried that we’d have to drive into town (about an hour away) to find grass for him to pee on.  After holding his pee for about a day (24 hours) he finally relieved in the dirt and pee’d for about 2 minutes straight.
Derby learned potty training

Using these potty training tips Derby was quickly potty trained

The moral of the story?  It’s important to train your pup to pee on a variety of surfaces and all of our guide dog puppies have learned to pee and poop on cement, grass, gravel, rocks, wood chips, dirt, and any other place you might imagine.

How To Potty Train A Puppy

More Potty Training Tips One of the great things about being a guide dog puppy raiser is the incredible network of knowledgeable puppy raisers and guide dog trainers we have at our disposal. Some of the members in our Orange County group have been guide dog puppy raisers for 20+ years and have raised a dozen or more puppies. I guess we’re relative neophytes as Dublin is only our third puppy in training and this is only our fifth year as guide dog puppy raisers. As guide dog puppy raisers we are required to enroll our puppies in a minimum of one Puppy Kindergarten and one basic Dog Obedience Training class. One of the first questions we are asked at Puppy Kindergarten is how are you doing with potty training your puppy? Even our most experienced puppy raisers will still sometimes have questions on how to potty train a puppy. Here are some of the puppy training tips and hints I’ve learned over the years when working on potty training with my own puppies: How To Potty Train A Puppy

  1. Keep an eye on your puppy – We learned pretty fast that it’s important to keep a constant eye on your puppy. Use puppy gates (same as baby gates), tie downs, and leashes to make sure you can always see your puppy. If you see him start to sniff around, circle, whimper, or squat then quickly scoop him up and take him out to his designated potty place in the yard. Give him a ton of praise when he potty’s in his spot. It’s important to keep your puppy under constant supervision not only for potty training purposes, but to keep him out of trouble in general. We’ve found many a chewed up shoe, cell phone, remote control because we didn’t keep a close eye on our puppies. This can be both costly and dangerous for your puppy.
  2. Keep a puppy potty schedule- If you keep a puppy potty schedule you’ll notice your pup can be fairly predictable with his potty times. We just use a sheet of paper and write down every time our puppy potty’s (you’ll start to notice trends on your puppy’s potty schedule). Here are a few potty times that should automatically be on your schedule.
    • Your puppy will always need to go potty shortly before and after eating or drinking water. We feed our pups twice a day at specific times which helps control the times they go poop.
    • As soon as your puppy wakes up. Puppies almost always go potty right after waking up.
    • As Linus’s dog trainer used to say: “Play makes pee!” It seems as though every 10 minutes or so your puppy will pee when playing.
  3. Be Consistent – stay free from variation. Stay consistent so your puppy knows what you want him to do. Be consistent by taking him out the same door to the same potty spot. Be consistent with your puppy potty schedule. Be consistent with your puppy’s feeding schedule. Be consistent and make sure everyone in your household abides by the same puppy potty training rules. If you do not stay consistent then it will take longer to potty train your puppy.
  4. Be Persistent - continue firmly with your potty training your puppy in spite of any difficulty. At times it may seem like your puppy just does not get it, but don’t waver and be persistent. It took our Aussie mix, Linus less than 2 weeks before he was potty trained. It took about 6 months to fully trust Stetson with his potty training. Stay persistent!
  5. Be Patient – defined as the ability to suppress annoyance…puppies are adorable, but they will also test your patience. Try to remain calm and don’t get upset with your puppy. It takes time to potty train a puppy. Be patient and you will be rewarded
  6. Praise Your Puppy – The most important thing when we raise our guide dog puppies is to give them tons of praise every time they do something right. Don’t forget to give your puppy a ton of praise every time he goes potty in his designated potty area. This will help reinforce the behavior with your puppy.
  7. Crate Training Puppies – we crate train all of our guide dog puppies in training. Many people feel like crate training is like imprisoning your puppy. However, crate trained puppies enjoy the safety and security they feel when in their crate as they will find it much like their den had they lived in the wild. In fact, many of our puppies in training have grown so accustomed to their crates that they will often go to their crates and sleep any time they are tired. Crate training is great for potty training as it’s your puppy’s natural instinct not to potty where he sleeps. For more information on crate training check out our page on crate training puppies. For starters here are a few basics on crate training:
    • Place the crate in your bedroom where the puppy can still see and hear what is going on.
    • Put a blanket or towels in the crate for bedding. A pup will rarely soil the crate, however, if he does, try removing the bedding.
    • A crate should not be too big, but large enough for the puppy to stand, stretch and turn around.
    • When placing the puppy in the crate, use word “kennel” or “kennel up”.
    • If he should happen to fall asleep somewhere else, pick him up and place him inside and quietly shut the door.
    • Don’t use the crate for punishment.
    • Take your puppy outside to potty before putting him in the crate.
    • Take your puppy outside to potty as soon as you take him out of the crate.

Puppy In Training TVEpisode 2 reviewed several puppy training basics including a short clip on taking your puppy to his potty spot (approximate 2:15 in the clip below).

Check out our other Puppy In Training TV episodes.  If you’re interested in sponsoring an episode please let us know by sending us an email through our contact form.


We need to reiterate…Do not Rub Your Puppy’s Nose In His Accidents! Do not hit your puppy for an accident! Do not punish your puppy if you find an accident! Never punish your puppy after the fact. Your puppy will think you are punishing him for whatever is happening at the time of the correction. Your puppy will not make the connection that this is an area that he previously soiled and that is why you are punishing.

Puppy Clean Up

If your puppy pees or poops on the floor or carpet make sure you clean it up immediately (I’m sure I really didn’t have to say that). However, if your puppy smells the pee or poop on the floor then he will return to this spot to pee again. In order to remove all the stain and order we like to use an enzyme-based remover like Nature’s Miracle. Nature’s Miracle claims to permanently eliminate all stains and odors even urine odors other products fail to remove. We’ve used Nature’s Miracle with all of our puppies and have found it to be very effective.

One final note…always remember to bring some dog poop bags when you’re out on your walks.  One of our biggest pet peeves is the person who does not pickup after their puppy.  It’s bad for the environment and for some reason the bottom of my shoe seems to always find the dog poop that was left behind. I hope this little guide helps you with your puppy potty training basics.

If you have any questions about how to potty train your puppy then please feel free to leave us a comment in the comments section below. If you want to read more great puppy training tips then please subscribe to our blog at any one of  our channels(or if you’re slightly more daring all or our channels): Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, RSS, Newsletter.


  1. Shawna says

    We just brough home our 8 week old retreiver/collie cross yesterday. She shared a crate with her siblings so is kind of used to that (it was kept open all the time I believe). They also used newspaper in the area near the door for the puppies to pee/poo on. They would also let them in the connecting kitchen and put paper down after they woke up from a nap. When we were there a week ago, our puppy (Ginger) jumped over the small board to get to the paper at the back door instead of using the ones in the kitchen. We leash her and carry her down the stairs to her potty spot which is some gravel/rocks beside the walkway that has/had newspaper that we brought from her home that had her or her siblings urine on it. She usually goes within 5 min. She had one accident but it was right at the back door. She did great after that.
    Early this morning (2:30 am) she whined so we went outside. She pooed but didn’t pee. When I put her back in her crate and went to bed she whined and cried. I left her for about 10-15 min and then took her outside again. Nothing. We repeated this process a couple of times (with a couple of short naps in between) until 6:30. During these potty outings she would whineand tug at the leash, trying to get to the grass or sit and wash herself or shiver. After 6:30, which was her longest quiet/nap stretch) I took her out again and still nothing. I fed her and about 2 min later she peed near the back door before I could get there. For the next hour we tried going outside for 5-10 min and then in the cratefor 5-10min which is what i read that you should do. During this timeshe whines and cries. I wait until she is quiet before taking her out and taking her potty. She finally pooed again and then walked over to the grass and peed. She peed again an hr later just after her nap and has gone few times since. Just before lunch, after playing, we tried agan, no luck, fed her lunch, tried again, nothing. She had a nap and then peed farther away from the door before we got to her. Since then she has not pooed or peed, even with repeated potty outings. She does the same as in the early morning (shivering/whining/tugging/or just lays down between or on our feet). Had another nap and we immediately took her out upon waking. Now she is curled up in the wet newspaper (it’s raining) and appears to be napping. Is there anything we are doing wrong? Is it punishment to crate them after they haven’t “gone potty”? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Shawna,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! It sounds like you’re doing things right. In our experiences raising puppies it’s taken anywhere from a week or two to a couple months to potty train our pups. At 8 weeks old a lot of puppies don’t have full control of their bladders and sometimes seem to pee randomly. They also can’t hold it very long. At this time you probably need to be patient, persistent, and consistent with your puppy and her potty training.

      By the way, to answer your questions: It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything wrong. During crate training when our puppies do not pee we will sometimes put them back in their crate.

      Good luck with your training!

  2. Heidi says

    I have a now 13 week old husky Shepard collie that we just adopted 1 week ago. She was doing great in her crate and an still struggling with her potty training. We are up in Saskatchewan abd it’s been extremely cold temperatures lately and she’s gotten into the habit of doing pee and poop on the deck/outside porch. Now the last few days I’ve been going out with her every time to show her where to go. She seems to get it when I take her but I have a 1 year old son so I’m now able to go with her every time and if I don’t go with her she goes right to the deck again. Any suggestions? Also she was doing extremely well with her crate training and sleeping all night with put whining to pee. Now the last day or so she’s peed twice in her crate. Once in the am and I just noticed it again in her crate. I’m taking her out every 20 min and she’s going every time so I have no Idea why she is starting this??? Thanks !

    • says

      Congratulations on your new puppy! If she’s still going on the deck you might want to try and thoroughly clean the deck with an enzymatic cleaner to get any scent of urine out. If she can smell the scent of urine she will want to pee on that spot. Again you will want to thoroughly clean her crate. If she’s having accidents in the middle of the night then make sure you relieve her just before bedtime. Also, you might want to remove any blankets or anything plush from the crate. One of our puppy’s has had accidents in the crate because she had a bladder infection which required a visit to the vet.

      Good luck with your training!

  3. Julia says

    We adopted a 10 week old puppy last week (when she was 9 weeks old) at a Petsmart adoption. She is crate trained, leash trained, and knows sit, stay, and down. The only problem is House training. She knows to potty when she’s outside, not to poop in the house, and that the bell means outside (since she always runs away when she hears it). We think it is because she hates cold. She always runs back to the steps, and shivers when we go outside. She also peed in her crate twice, even though we blocked off the back to make it smaller for her. We praise her when she goes out, but I think the cold overpowers the praise. How do we make her go outside?

    • says

      We live in southern California and it’s been uncharacteristically warm this year and we do not have to deal with the extreme cold. However, if this were my puppy I would consider trying to find a place outside where it might not be as cold. We used to live in a smaller condo so we had our pups potty on the patio using the Urban Potty: You might try something similar to keep your pups out of the cold. Also, anywhere your puppy has had an accident you will want to clean with an enzymatic cleaner to keep your pup from going back and being tempted to potty in the same spot. Good luck with your training!

  4. Megan Shea says

    Dear Colby,
    I really appreciate your website…thank you for all your great information. We have a 12 week old female chocolate lab, Lucy. We have been trying to be really consistent and if she is not in her crate she is in a small “pen” type area by the laundry room. We have gotten pretty good at anticipating when she needs to go and helping prevent accidents. We have made big strides in the last week or so. However, in the evening we are trying to let her spend time with us after the kids are in bed by letting sit in the family room while we watch tv. She is under direct supervision and I take her out to her potty spot before we let her in the room. She will usually relieve herself outside, but usually within about 15 minutes she gets so excited from having the freedom and running around that she will have a small accident. We are catching her and saying no and then taking her outside… but wondering if you have any other suggestions. Thanks so much and have a great week!

    • says

      Hi Megan,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! She’s still pretty young and probably doesn’t have great control of her bladder just yet. One thing you might try doing when you bring her inside is keeper calmer and under control instead of her run around getting excited. We keep a leash on our pups in doors up until they are fully potty trained that way we have better control of their activity and can keep them from getting overly excited.

      One trainer I used to work with always said “Play makes Pee!” and she recommended taking your puppy out every 5-10 minutes when she is playing.

      Good luck with your training!

    • says

      When we first brought home Linus it rained for 2 weeks straight. Needless to say we had similar problems getting him to go outside during those first couple weeks. Back then we carried him out to his potty spot then carried him back into the house.

  5. Julia says

    Sorry about the 2 almost the same comments. After I posted the first one, I checked for a reply a few days after. I didn’t see my comment, so I posted a new one. Then my old one showed up.

    • says

      No problem. I have comment set to moderate before posting because of all the spam comments that come through. Thanks for visiting the site!

  6. Sam says

    Hi there! We have a 5 and a half month old Morkie pup. She took to potty training really well at first – we would stick to her schedule and take her out after eating, and she also started to go to the door herself and indicate that she needed to “go”.
    However, now she’s stopped being interested in her food as much (she used to eat it all in a few minutes, now it takes over an hour). And she’s no longer “going” according to her schedule – in fact there’s no rhyme or reason to when she’s going. I’m wondering if you have any advice about what do to to get her back on schedule?
    Also, how is it that pups learn to “hold it” when they’re not let out right away? Our pup is really good at telling us she needs to go, but it happens so often- and if we don’t catch her signal, she goes on the spot! Is there anything we can do to teach her that if she doesn’t get let out immediately that she’s still supposed to hold it?
    Many thanks!

    • says

      Hi Sam,

      We’ve always crate trained our puppies and that is one way our pup’s are trained to “hold it”. If your puppy is having accidents at 5 1/2 months of age you might try rolling back on your house training. I would give her less freedom around the house and keep a constant eye on her 24/7 until she learns again that she’s not supposed to potty in the house. Good luck with your training!

      Take care,

  7. Julia says

    Koko now loves to play in the snow! Do you know how to bell train a dog? We are trying to bell train Koko but so far no luck. Also, do you give advice for other topics other than house training?

    • says

      Hi Julia,

      We don’t bell train our dogs, but I’m sure you can find a good tutorial online on how to train your puppy. We use this site to talk about all of the things (training, socialization, house manners) we do with our guide and service dog puppies to prepare them for their jobs as working dogs.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Julia says

    Whenever I play piano, Koko whines her head off. Some whines even turn into something like a howl. My mom and I don’t know why she does it, or how to stop it. Do you know why she does it?

  9. Sheryl says

    I have had my puppy since he was 5 weeks old. He is 14 weeks old now and very smart. He know “sit”, “lay down”, comes when called but I can’t get him potty trained. Since he was so young when I got him I used puppy pads to start with. He would go every time to the puppy pad. Every time I take him outside he pees right away and he poops pretty much on command. The problem is after I take him outside and he pees, he comes back in and will pee in the house. Sometimes he can make it an hour or two and sometimes he will pee 2-3 withing the hour. He also doesn’t stop to pee in the house, he just pees while he is running; so I have a trail of pee to clean. The most frustrating thing is I stayed with a family member for 3 days at their house and he only had 2 accidents. I came home and washed my hard wood floors good and every time he has an accident I clean it right away with a good floor cleaner with an enzyme in it….Help. Also I should say that he is crate trained and goes 9 hours at night while I work and 4-6 hours during the day while I sleep with no accidents.

    • says

      Your puppy is still pretty young so it’s not too surprising that he still hasn’t figured out potty training. A few things you might try:

      1. If he’s going potty in the house right after he goes outside (this is very common for young pups). My puppy used to do this. I learned to wait outside a little longer after he goes the first time. Young puppy’s don’t always have full control of their bladders and sometimes don’t get it all out on the first go around.
      2. At puppy class we always say play makes pee. When our puppies are awake and playing they seem to potty every 10 minutes. We keep a close eye on our pup’s when their awake and watch for signs that they have to potty like circling, sniffing, etc.
      3. When our puppies are not yet potty trained we keep them on leash and within sight 24/7. If we are not watching them then we crate them.

      Like I said your puppy is still young. Remain patient, consistent, and persistent with his training and he’ll get it.

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