How to Potty Train a Puppy in Seven Days

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African American couple looking at puppy

Bringing a new puppy home comes with the challenge of teaching him where and when it's appropriate to go to the bathroom. Mother dogs keep the den area clean from urine and feces until pups are old enough to follow her outside to relieve themselves. As this is a natural part of a dog's early training, you can teach a pup as young as two months old the basics of potty training. Above all else, understand that you need to be consistent, patient, and always choose to practice positive reinforcement (encouraging good habits) over negative reinforcement (punishing bad habits).


Bringing a new puppy home comes with the challenge of teaching him where and when it's appropriate to go to the bathroom.
Image Credit: Sarah Casillas/DigitalVision/GettyImages

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Best way to potty train a puppy

Your pup needs consistency during the entire week of house training, so you or someone else dedicated to the process should be near them at all times. Plan an area where you will take your dog to do their business. An outdoor area should be easily accessible to the house, or they'll get distracted on the way to their potty spot. If you live in an apartment and want your dog to use puppy pads, select an area like tile where any of their misses won't ruin the flooring. Invest in cleaning products that will remove the odor should he have an accident so they do not return to mark the same spot. Set aside one room of the house or a training crate where they'll stay contained between outings.


Constantly monitor your dog's behavior

You have to constantly monitor your pup's behavior to the best of your ability. Placing baby gates in the doorway allow you to see them (and vice versa) but not get loose. In addition to keeping them confined in a safe spot, you can also tether your pup to you in order to be able to monitor their behavior at all times while you're in the house. Snap their leash to their collar, slide the loop around your belt, and take them from room to room with you.


When you can't supervise your dog, place them in a small area where they will be safe and unlikely to potty, like their crate.

Establish consistent potty routines

Potty training 6 week old puppy dogs will require more trips outside than adult dogs. Set an alarm to go off every hour for the first day while your pup is awake. Take them to their potty spot, point, and give them your chosen potty command, such as the words "go potty." Be consistent with your command. Use the same words (spoken in the same tone of voice) and gesture each time, so they'll know what you expect of them. Praise and treat them when they produce results.


Time outings so you take them out five to 30 minutes after eating or drinking.
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Time outings so you take them out five to 30 minutes after eating or drinking a significant amount of water. Be sure to take them out right before bedtime. Your puppy will whine or move around restlessly when they need to go out during the night. Take them out in the morning as soon as they are awake to avoid accidents.


Watch for time-to-potty signals

By the end of 24 hours, you'll have a good idea how long your pup can wait between trips to their potty spot. The rest of the week entails being consistent, so the routine is well-ingrained by the end of seven days. When your pup is with you, watch for signals that they need to go, such as whining, sniffing the ground, circling, and/or pacing. Some pups give very few clues that they need to relieve themselves, other than leaving the room or going over to a corner.


Keeping your pup in a contained area such as a crate or small room usually elicits whining, scratching, and/or a sharp bark once the pup knows you'll respond by taking them outside to their spot. Be prepared for false alarms. Your pup will probably use the same signs to simply get your attention even though they don't need to "go." Please be patient with your puppy and don't get angry when this happens. If they don't go potty, simply bring them back inside.


Use puppy pads for accidents

Accidents will definitely happen, so mentally prepare for them and do your part by not setting up your puppy for failure. Never leave your dog confined for more than three to four hours at a time even after the week is up. At about six months of age, they'll have enough control of their bodily functions to gradually get used to longer periods. The younger the dog, the more frequently they'll need to relieve themselves.


Accidents are inevitable.
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Should they have an accident between outings, never yell at them put their nose in the mess, or swat them with a newspaper. This will only teach them to fear you, and will be counterproductive to your housebreaking efforts. You also cannot correct their behavior if the accident already happened as your dog won't be able to mentally associate your present corrective actions with past events. You can only correct them right before or in the middle of the act.

If they begin to squat while you're watching them, say "no" to make them stop and rush them outside. Clean up their accident using an enzymatic urine cleaner to help reduce odors. Most importantly, heap plenty of praise and treats on your beloved puppy when they go in the right location to reinforce good behavior.



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