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We provide this page to help answer some of the common questions new puppy owners have.


  1. General Information
  2. How to potty train your puppy

1. General Information

Here are some tips to follow to maximize the enjoyment, and minimize the aggravation, of your new family member:

2. How to Potty Train Your Puppy

Potty training is, to most owners, the first and most important kind of training a puppy needs. When it comes to potty training, all pups are not created equal. Some breeds are known for being easy to potty train while others are more difficult—this should be one of the things you look into as you explore different breeds.

Individual puppies also vary. Be patient. A puppy is a baby, and babies need time to master acceptable potty procedures. Young puppies do not have complete control of their bladders or bowels, and sometimes by the time they realize they have to go, they simply can't hold it any longer. It's your job to keep your puppy off your carpets until he's reliably trained, to teach him where he should go, and to be patient when he has an accident. At least your puppy doesn't wear diapers!

Here are some guidelines to help you potty train your puppy. These procedures will work whether you're training your puppy to go outdoors or to go in a litter box indoors (which many toy dogs are trained to do). I don't advocate paper training, especially with a dog that you will eventually want to potty outdoors. If you paper train him to go indoors, you'll just have to retrain him later to go outdoors. Why not start by training for what you really want?

Most puppies will signal that they're about to potty. When your pup is loose in the house, keep a close eye on him. If he starts to turn in circles, sniff the floor, or arch his back while walking, pick him up and take him out. Once a baby starts to go, he can't stop if he's on his own feet. Help him get to the right place; then praise and reward him with play or a treat when he finishes.

Puppies do have accidents. It's very important to remove all trace of odor from any place your pup potties. Regular cleansers won't do it—you may not smell urine or feces after washing the area with soap and water, but your pup has a much more sensitive nose than you have. If he smells waste odors, he'll think he's found the toilet. Pet supply stores sell several types of special cleansers designed to eliminate odors. An inexpensive alternative for urine odors (but not feces) is a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. I keep a spray bottle full when I expect puppy messes to clean up.

If you see your puppy start to go in the house, say “No” or “Anh!” pick him up, and take him out. When he's finished, put him somewhere safe and clean up the mess. Don't yell at your puppy or punish him for accidents. Don't rub his nose in it. If you don't see him start to go but find an accident later (a minute later is later), just clean it up and scold yourself for giving him the opportunity to make a mistake. Puppies don't go in the house to be mean or to “get you.” They do it because they haven't learned where they should go. Remember, he's a puppy, not a child. You can talk until you're blue in the face and he still won't understand why you're upset about the peepee on the rug.

If your puppy is still having regular accidents in the house at four months or older, talk to your veterinarian. Some medical problems can interfere with housebreaking.