How to potty train your puppy in 4 easy steps. - Victory Tails
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“Whoever said potty training a toddler is tough, needs to meet my puppy”



It’s like the Lord told me you need to work on your patience, here’s a puppy. Common sense may tell us raising a puppy isn’t all rainbows and puppy kisses but I don’t remember it being this difficult.

Luckily, I’m here to tell you, we’ve all been there. And every one of my clients manage to get through it to the bliss that is a properly house trained dog.

The 4 legs of the house training chair

1. Crate and Supervision

2. Regular Schedule

3. Clean up

4. Feedback

So we all know a good sturdy four-legged chair will support us, but what happens when it gets to three? It’s a bit wobbly maybe but we can still get balanced. At two? Well, that’s a bit of a circus act. And one? forget it. I’ve tried a pogo stick. Each of these 4 legs is crucial to house training your puppy. We may get away with slacking a bit in one but start getting past that and things go downhill fast.

Crate and Supervision

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t want to use a crate with your puppy, you’ve found the wrong blog. I’m a firm believer that your puppy needs a safe place to be when you can’t supervise. We’re not going to get into the whole shebang (That’s for another post) but crating your dog is a GOOD thing! They should view their crate as their bedroom. A place to go relax and take a nap while you get your things done. This also has the major benefit of making sure your puppy isn’t getting themselves into trouble. They can’t chew through the electric cord, eat your socks, mess on the carpet or raid the trash while inside napping.

Don’t know how to introduce your puppy to the crate? Keep an eye out for our crate game post coming soon. (Hint: It involves treats)

Don’t make it a habit to let your puppy out of their crate because they are whining/barking/throwing a tantrum. This will only teach them bark loud enough and someone will come get me out. (And some of those little buggers are persistent) Pull out the headphones and get ready to wait it out. (Remember that raging hellion is also the cute fluffy little wonder you wanted) If you think your puppy is trying to communicate it needs to go get them out take them right outside offer them the chance to go and take them right back to the crate.

P.S. Your crate needs to be only big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down. No bigger. If it’s to big they can potty on one side and sleep on the other which ruins the keeping the den clean instinct your crate is using. If you put blankets in and your puppy pees on them or shreds them take them out! You can reintroduce them later.

Supervision. Do you let your 1 year old child wander about alone? Exactly. Your puppy isn’t capable of making good choices because they don’t know how to navigate this strange human world yet. They lead with their mouth. And their mouth gets them into trouble. (Maybe I was a puppy in a past life) So. This means if they are out of the crate they are being supervised 100% by a responsible adult. 100% That means you’ll have to put off that tv show and focus on your puppy! It’s not about the quantity of time your puppy spends out of the crate but the quality. Make it fun and interactive for both of you. That cute fluffball is going to get big fast. Enjoy the wonder year.

Most puppies I run a ratio of 2 hours in the crate/ 1 hour out. During that time out I’m actively involved with my puppy, playing, training, walking, pottying, socializing, cuddling. I also make judicious use of my x-pen.  (What’s an x-pen?)

Regular Schedule

Get a piece of paper. Draw yourself a chart for the week. Tape it to your door. Write down every time your puppy pees or poos. When they eat and when they drink. Look for the pattern. This will help you immensely. Some puppies the moment they eat they need out, some 15 minutes later, you’ll find where your puppy is. Rule of thumb is your puppy can hold it for however many months they are old plus one. So at 8 weeks that’s 3 hours. (So if you’re a working parent it’s time to start looking for a dog walker at lunch) If you see the signs, your puppy dropping their nose to sniff, disinterest in play, wandering away, it’s time to scoop them up and head outside.

Try to keep a pretty consistent schedule. Set an alarm for the night with the young puppies. Incrementally add 15 minutes of time to how long they hold it through the night. Pretty quick you’ll be seeing those 8 hours of beauty rest.  Water is pulled up 1-3 hours before bedtime to help them and no late night snacks.

Pro Tip: You should never free feed your puppy or dog. Always either have them working for their food as reward or setting the bowl down for a set time (we prefer 15 minutes) If they don’t eat the food goes up and returns the next scheduled feeding time.

Be proactive! If you know your puppy needs to go 30 minutes after eating take them out 20 minutes after and start walking them to their potty spot. You don’t need your puppy to tell you when they need to go. Instead you tell them when you’re going to let them out. Eventually as an adult dog that should be 4-5 times a day. Also keep in mind the more running around and playing they do the more they’re going to have to go. So be sure after playing inside to give them a potty break.

Clean Up

This one is super important and often missed. If you’re following the supervision and schedule legs then your puppy shouldn’t be having frequent accidents. But they happen to the best of us. Clean away the worst of the mess and soak up any pee with paper towels. Then using an enzyme cleaner or vinegar solution soak the area for 10 minutes. Pat dry.

Enzyme cleaner is the important part of this. Many clean up the mess and we can’t detect any smell, but our puppies can! The enzyme solution actually eats away the scent leaving no odor for your puppy to return to.  Simple solution and Nature’s miracle are two easy to purchase brands at your local pet store.

If your puppy has gone on carpet make sure the solution has managed to soak into the carpet padding beneath.


If you miss your puppy in the act of going do NOT yell/shout/correct them. You’re to late (and not following rule 1) And please for heavens sake don’t rub their nose in it. That’s an old wives tale that’s managed to stick around for far too long.

If you do catch the puppy going, giving a verbal NO and redirecting to outside will do the trick. The trick though is to be PROACTIVE. Take the puppy out frequently. Before they think to have an accident in the house.

Always lead your puppy outside to the same location. The scents there will begin to spur their brain into thinking about taking care of business. Keep them on a 6 foot leash and stand still giving them only the length of the leash to investigate.  Say your go potty command when you reach the location. When finished give a verbal good potty (or whichever is your potty word) and play with them. The transaction is simple. If you go potty outside puppy, we’ll have fun afterward.

Vet Checks

If your puppy is peeing very frequently or struggling to go, has diarrhea or noticeably loose stool, it’s time to visit your vet. Urinary tract infections are common in puppies, as well as parasitic worms (Hook, Round, Tape), and Giardia.

You’ve got this! 

And we’re right here for you if you need help.

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Happy training!