Your Guide to House Training a Puppy – Effective Potty Training

house-training-puppyBringing home a new puppy can be an exciting and life-changing event for a dog owner, and usually, one of the first questions a new dog owner has is how to house train their puppy. While many pet owners turn to professional animal training organizations, it can be just as effective and more cost-efficient to train your animal yourself. Although it may take time and patience, it is important to instill good behavior in puppies from an early age.

The amount of time it takes to train a puppy may depend on several factors. First, the size and breed of your dog will come into play, as this affects the size of the dog’s bladder. You will also want to consider the age of your dog and if it has developed any bad habits, which is common when attempting to train dogs older than twelve weeks. The older the dog, the more time you will have to spend backtracking to break old habits, such as using the bathroom in its cage or other inappropriate places. For most dogs, it will take around 4-6 weeks to house train, but for others it may take longer.

Above all, it’s important to have patience when potty training a puppy. It may feel like the longest 4+ weeks of your life, but once it’s over, you’ll not only be proud of your puppy, but yourself, too. If you’re looking for ways to potty train your puppy, look no further—here’s a great guide to get you started!

Steps to Potty Training A Puppy

The most important thing to remember when training a puppy is that it takes patience, time, consistency, and positive reinforcement. The best time to begin house training is around twelve weeks. The most common methods for house training are crate training and paper training.

Crate training involves teaching your puppy to use a crate as a safe and comfortable place to stay during the night or while you’re away. If trained properly, the puppy will not use the bathroom during the day or night while it’s in the crate and will wait for appropriate times to be let out of the crate. A key to crate training is that the owner must be available to let the dog out of the crate to relieve itself multiple times a day, as a puppy should never be left in a crate all day long. The benefits of crate training are that your puppy won’t be as likely to potty in the space they sleep, so there’s less chance for accidents. In the case that they do have an accident, though, it will be quite isolated into one specific area, which means less cleanup for you!

Paper training is a method of house training in which the puppy learns to use a puppy pad during the day or overnight to go to the bathroom. The dog would first learn to use the bathroom only on the paper pad and eventually would learn to use the bathroom at a certain spot outside. Paper training may be a better option if you are working all day and are unable to come home to let your dog out. In this case, your puppy may need an emergency place to relieve itself during the day. Don’t worry about this “teaching” your dog that it’s okay to go potty inside—it’s simply a way to lessen cleanup when an accident happens, which will inevitably take place since puppies lack bladder control. This can also be used with the crate training method, as it gives your puppy a place to “go,” and there will be less for you to clean up when the deed happens.

So, let’s take a look at some simple steps you should follow when trying to potty train your puppy.

First, do some research and decide on your preferred method for house training your dog. Consider both your and your pet’s needs and what will work best for your situation.

  • Many dogs, such as poodles and border collies, are known to be extremely smart. Therefore, you may expect them to catch on quickly, but this may not be the case. For many pups, they’re too smart for their own good, and they can be quite stubborn in the training process. Because of this, don’t be afraid to go back to square one and come up with a new plan.
  • Finding something that works may take time, but try and give every method you try time. You may think it’s not working, but it might just not be showing, yet.

Second, think about your dog’s diet. If your puppy always has food and water throughout the day and night, this will affect the frequency of bathroom breaks.

  • Though this may be obvious, continuously check the directions on the back of your puppy’s food label. It’s important to not give them more food than directed, as it could cause both obesity and increase their need for potty breaks.
  • Keep an eye on how your puppy reacts to certain foods; some foods may cause more active bowels, which will result in more bathroom breaks.
  • Keep your puppy on a strict diet schedule by taking food and water away between meals. This will help keep bathroom breaks to a minimum and will naturally train your dog’s body to conform to a regular schedule.

Third, keep your dog on a consistent schedule for potty breaks.

  • It’s important to give a dog many opportunities to use the bathroom during the day, especially while they are young. Puppies cannot control their bladder completely until at least 12 weeks of age, if not more, which means that neglecting to let them relieve themselves often can result in accidents.
  • Since puppies are less likely to pee or poop in the area they will be sleeping, many owners swear by mostly keeping them in this area for the first few weeks or so until they realize they are supposed to go outside to potty.
  • When you first bring your puppy home, you should be bringing them out to potty at least once an hour. Over time, you may begin to gradually lengthen the time between breaks, but if accidents occur, you may have to go back to bringing them out more often. Six-month-old puppies should generally be able to hold it for about six hours.
  • Dogs may gradually begin to hold it for longer, but never for more than nine hours.
  • Dogs should be taken outside to use the bathroom first thing each morning, after each meal or drink, after playing, after napping, after chewing a toy, after spending time in its crate, and before going to bed. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to bring them out more often than they need, rather than to have constant accidents in the house. Also, this will enforce your training that “potty” is meant to be done outside rather than inside.
  • For paper training, you will begin allowing the dog to use the puppy pad during these times and gradually increase outside bathroom trips. If you’re worried that using a puppy pad will train your dog to “go” inside, don’t be – it’s simply a safety device that will prevent your flooring from getting ruined when the inevitable accident occurs.
  • Observe your dog for other behaviors or situations that may call for a potty break (for example, if your dog typically becomes excited around people and has an accident). Training them to indicate when they have to potty is also possible. Many people reward their dogs with treats when they bark to show that they need to go out, which is easier than remembering to let them out exactly according to their schedule.

Fourth, supervise your dog during each potty break, especially during the beginning, to make sure it eliminates successfully.

  • Often, puppies will run outside and stay out for a few minutes, but their curious natures might distract them. Then they might run back in with a full bladder, ready to ruin your priceless Persian rug!
  • By watching every time they “go,” you can also keep track of what they’ve done; puppies will typically poop one to five times every day, and younger pups will have to pee every hour, of which these instances will grow further apart as they grow older and gain more control of their bladder.
  • Early on, puppies may also have worms (don’t worry – it’s a completely natural thing that happens to nearly every puppy), and so it’s important to keep track of when the medication given by the vets finally kicks in and it passes. If not, it’s important to call your vet and inform them.

Fifth, reward your dog each time it uses the bathroom outside.

  • Always, be conscious about how you treat your dog, and avoid using negative reinforcement because it can cause trust issues and confusion. Remember to never use negative reinforcement such as hitting a dog with a newspaper or rubbing its nose where it used the bathroom in an inappropriate place. If you punish your dog for “going” in the house, they might become confused and refuse to go potty outside, as well, since they might think any act of going to the bathroom is unacceptable.
  • It’s important to remain patient, as your puppy is young and still learning what behavior is expected. Celebrate the good moments, and don’t make such minor issues into a big deal.
  • Some positive ways to reinforce good behavior include cheers, claps, petting, treats, or going for a walk.

Mostly importantly, enjoy spending time with your new dog, as you now have a loyal companion. They’ll only be a puppy once, and you need to soak up every moment you have with them in this stage because you’ll miss these times later, even though you probably won’t miss the potty training itself later. Remember, house training takes time, but it will be worth it once your dog is able to consistently show good habits and behavior. More information on house training a puppy can be found on the American Kennel Club website.

Potty Training an ESA

If you recently adopted a puppy and are planning on using it as an emotional support animal (or “ESA”), it is especially important to properly potty train your dog, since you’ll be bringing it into public spaces. This should be a crucial part of your ESA’s training in general, and it’s a good idea to train them to inform you when they need a potty break in a way that is acceptable in your normal settings.

As a general act of courtesy, you shouldn’t bring your ESA out in public until it is completely potty trained. ESA owners are protected of their right to bring their ESA into a public space, but if the dog urinates or defecates in public, it can be considered a “disruptive presence,” and they can request or order you to remove your dog from the place. In the case that you must bring your ESA out, and it is still not yet completely potty trained, try to have an emergency plan in place.

Before going into a building, pick out a few places you can take your dog in the case that they need to “go.” If you’re meeting someone, let them know you have an ESA in training, and you may have to leave on short notice. Try to keep an eye out for any signs that your puppy might need to relieve itself, such as sniffing, acting antsy, or whining. Another great way to prevent an accident is to train your dog to indicate they must go, such as barking at you. If you notice your dog acting this way, it’s important to get out as soon as possible to avoid them having an accident.

Remember, young dogs simply cannot control their bladder completely until about 12 weeks, so it is important to take your dog out as soon as you notice any of these signs.

Other Important Information You Should Know

Whether you’re new to having an ESA or you’ve been around the block a few times, everyone knows how ironically frustrating life can be with an ESA since they’re in your life for the purpose of making it easier. It seems ESA owners face trouble nearly everywhere they go, which is why we’re dedicated to informing ESA owners of their rights to protect them from difficult situations.

So, here are a few things we want you to be aware of:

Fair Housing Act: Are you planning to register your ESA to move into a new living space? Great! We want you to be aware of the Fair Housing Act. Under this act, landlords are required to permit the resident to keep any animal that provides a benefit to persons with disabilities, including emotional and psychological, even if they otherwise restrict animals on the premises. Your task is to only register your ESA and procure a letter confirming its role in your treatment from a licensed medical professional. At, U.S. Service Animal and Support Animal Registry, we are here to help you with every step of the process.

Air Carrier Access Act: The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) previously used to allow all ESAs in the cabin of a plane for free. However, the ACAA has since been updated and unfortunately ESAs are treated as regular pets on airplanes now. This means that airlines can charge a pet fee, and can make your ESA ride in the cargo if the animal can’t be accommodated in the plane cabin. However, service animals are still protected and can fly with you for free. If you frequently fly and find that doing so without your ESA is very difficult, it may be helpful to see if training and registering your companion as a psychiatric service animal is a possibility.

American Disabilities Act: The ADA requires entities that providing public goods or services to provide “reasonable accommodations” to persons with disabilities in order to satisfy the provider’s regulations, procedures, rules, and policies. The American Disabilities Act extends from government agencies, to private enterprise, and non-profit organizations.

Your Privacy: We care about your privacy and want to help you protect it. No person or business is allowed to invade your privacy by asking about your disability or requiring medical documentation, a special identification card, training documentation (in the case of a service dog, for instance), or a demonstration of your ESA’s service to you (i.e., perform a task). You should never be required to disclose any details about your disability. While applying for housing, however, the proprietors and agents will have access to the basic information provided on your emotional service animal’s ID card and in your letter from a licensed medical practitioner.

Disruptive Presence: While you have the right to live with your emotional support animal, if your ESA escapes your control to the extent of disrupting others, proprietors or their staff members can request your animal be removed from the premises. Therefore, all service animals must be either harnessed, leashed, tethered, or confined to a carrying container while in public places, unless such containment interferes with the animal’s task or role as it pertains to the disabled person, including the emotionally and psychologically disabled.

Lastly, we want you to beware of scams! Just like any other industry or company, there are imposters everywhere. Therefore, if you have any questions about anyone acting or pretending to conduct business on our behalf, about U.S. Service Animals, or have your suspicions of any questions or actions of any person claiming to be a service animal authority, don’t hesitate to contact us. We here at U.S. Service Animals are here to protect, help, and support both you and your ESA.

The Perks of Registering Your Dog as an ESA with Us

Why should you register your ESA with us? Here are a few reasons:

– You not only get a card, but a certificate, as well. The certificate acts as an official document that confirms your animal is registered as an ESA in our database, and contains all the necessary information, such as the date of issuance and the animal’s name.

– You and your animal are entered into the largest online database of U.S. service animals.

– We supply numerous resources to help you secure a support animal, or a licensed medical professional, should you need an official letter for a landlord or airport.

– If you register with us, you can get $60 off your consultation with any medical professional in our network, when you seek out an official letter for your housing.

– Registering your animal allows you to also carry all the necessary equipment and accessories needed for your animal, such as a leash, collar, tag, vest, and so on.

– We can help connect you to our on-staff attorneys who are there to protect your rights as an ESA owner.

– You get access to our ESA kits and products.