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. Carol says


    We just adopted a 4.5 month old Lab mix from a shelter last Saturday. She is doing great and she loves her crate right after we put it there. She even got the “peeing on the potty spot” thing the first day she came home with us. The only problem we have is that she does not seem to get the “pooping” part…

    We are trying to find a schedule that will work for all of us, since we have to be out of the house ~9am to work and send her to puppy day school.

    We took her to her potty spot (where leaves piles under a tree) several times (always 10 minutes if she did not “do her business”) during the first day and 9pm before bed. She did great. No accidents first night in the house until 5:30am I woke up and took her out and she peed again.

    On Sunday, we fed her 8am. took her out every 30 minutes. She peed around 8am. but then she pooped around 9am– right after 10 minutes on the potty spot outside, rushed back in and pooped in front of her crate. We said “NO” and she stopped. We took her out again. she did not poop… took her out every 30 minutes, she peed couple times, but no poop. So we figured, she will need to go about 1 hours after meal.

    On Monday, we fed her 7am and took her out every 30 minutes until 9am. She did not poop. We put her into the car to take her to puppy school. She pooped in the car around 9am. So we figured, she will go maybe about 2 hours after meal?

    On Tuesday, we fed her 6am and took her out every 30 minutes from 7am-9am. she did not poop. but as soon as she gets into the car, she pooped again.

    So, on Wednesday, we fed her 5 am. took her out every 30 minutes from 7-9am. still, she did not poop. she just waited until she gets into the car and pooped right away…

    We are not sure why she is doing this. She does not have any problem peeing at the spot but just does not want to poop there… and she holds until she gets in the car… We are afraid that she thinks the car is her pooping spot so she holds for that…

    Please help!!


  2. Carol says

    Sorry that I made a mistake on the previous comment (as my husband corrected me. He was the one who sent the puppy to school and he waited and hoped she would poop before leaving the house)–

    On Tuesday, we fed her 6am and took her out every 30 minutes from 7am-9:30am. she did not poop. but as soon as she gets into the car, she pooped again. around 9:30am.

    So, on Wednesday, we fed her 5 am. took her out every 30 minutes from 7-10am. still, she did not poop. she just waited until she gets into the car and pooped right away around 10am…

    It is only 15 minutes ride to the puppy school. But she always poops within 3 minutes into the car… No problems when I picked her up from school and back home in the afternoon. She does not peep, nor poop…

    Is there anything we did wrong??


  3. Fabiola says

    Hello I have a 8 week old french bulldog and i am trying to pad train him while he is unable to go outside, he is not wanting to poo on his pad, peeing he is getting a bit better however the pooling he will not do on the pad because he is wanting to eat it. We are consistent however we miss him pooing or peeing some times

  4. Becky says

    Sounds like your doing all the right things it could be that since your puppy is 4.5 months old that the people who previously had her may be to blame, she was probably kept in a crate and felt safe to go potty in there and wasn’t taught any better, I myself just got a puppy that I was told was 6 weeks old, then I asked for her birthday and given 10/31 well if that’s the case she was only 5 weeks and 3 days old when I got her, way too soon to be away from her mom and litter mates, I am puppy pad training her and have now had her for 3 weeks, she is doing very well, but there have been some accidents in the crate due to me not being able to watch her every single second, it’s pretty frustrating at times, it really is just like having a new baby in the house.. Hopefully you will get your accidents figured out, as will I .. Best of luck :)

  5. Annalisa says


    We just brought home a 10 week old golden retriever pup and are having a difficult time with potty training. We are doing everything suggested. We watch him at all times, take him out when he wakes, after he eats, practically every hour to prevent accidents. Despite this, he will go in the house even only 20 minutes after being taken out. He goes right in front of us. He always goes when we take him out and we always praise him. Any suggestions? We are desperate! Thanks!

    • Crystal says

      Annalisa, we are in the same situation, our puppy is 9 1/2 weeks old and does the exact same thing. We’ve even tried letting her out every 30 mins. Most of the time its just tinkling! she doesn’t hold it at all! Have you found anything that helps?

      • Annalisa says

        Hi crystal,

        We don’t let him have free access to water anymore which seems to help. Instead we give him a cup or so every few hours which has reduced accidents. I hate to do it but he’s only had 2 accidents this past week so it seems to be helping. Otherwise he will sit there for minutes just gulping it down!

        • Jenn says

          Hi! I see your comment is now a few months old and I was wondering how things turned out for you. I just recently got a new puppy. She is 12 wks old and is doing the exact thing you described. I constantly keep an eye on her, put her in the crate if I can’t, take her out A LOT but she will still go in the house not even 30 minutes after she just went outside. I praise her when she goes outside and even bought some of those training treats. If I catch her going inside I tell her no and immediately take her out. Nothing is working! My hope is that she’s still just a little too young and will get it eventually but I don’t want bad habits to form in the meantime!

  6. says

    Well I saved a germane shepherd from a family that wasn’t feed the dog & God no what else? He about 6 months he was really skinny .since I brought him home a week ago I take him after he eats and does pood or peed I take out at least 5 time day.but when I try my back he use the house pood & peed .and also he wan t to drink lots of water like every hr.and one thing I don’t have a cregeth .so please hep.thanx.

  7. says

    i adopted a 6weeks caucation and we are having problems with spotting…he pooes everywhere on the house and wee as well, im trying my best to house train him but still not working…help pls.

  8. Nadeen eladly says

    Hi, my family and I just bought a 2 months year old golden retriever and he poops and pees everywhere! And we live in an apartment so we don’t have an easy access to the outdoors plus the doctor told us that he’ll have to be 3 months old to start walking outside. Anyway, we bought these pad so he can poop and pee on them but he still doesn’t. What should i do? My parents aren’t really patient and they starting shouting at him when he does this, they don’t listen to me when i tell them this is wrong. The pad is placed in the bathroom so when we feel that he wants to poop we put him there but still he waits for the moment he goes outside to poop. Help please

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