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A Guide to Potty Training Your Puppy


The day you bring a new puppy home is a magical one, as you’re welcoming a new member into the family. Your new friend will be a loyal and loving companion for years to come, and it’s easy to look forward to all the happiness you’re going to get to enjoy with your new member of the pack. While this is always a wonderful day, there is also a lot of work to be done. You’ll need to teach your puppy basically everything it takes to live with you and your family, as this is the canine form of a baby you’re taking care of and raising. One of the things that weigh heaviest on the minds of new dog owners is potty training. It can seem overwhelming to those who have not handled this task, but with a consistent and diligent approach, you will handle it.

KONG has been helping people create happy lives for their dogs for 50 years, and this is one aspect of dog ownership we’ve both experienced a lot ourselves and heard a lot about from our loyal customers. We’ve compiled some ideas about this topic, and below you’ll find an informal guide to potty training a puppy.

1.     Familiarize

The first thing that you’ll need to do in order to potty train your puppy is familiarizing it with its new surroundings. This will come naturally to your new friend anyway, as he/she will want to explore everything. Take some time to walk your puppy around on a leash to make sure it knows where it eats, drinks, sleeps, and, most importantly, relieves itself. Walk around the yard if you have one and show your puppy where you expect it to go. If you’re using a pad, spend time standing near it. Linger there a bit and if it does relieve itself, praise it generously and give it a treat. If not, it’s not a big deal, as you’ll visit this location quite a few times anyway.

2.     Set a Schedule

As mentioned above, in some ways puppies are like babies. With babies, you have set schedules for everything from eating to sleeping to playtime, and the same is a vital part of any guide to potty training a puppy. You need to write out a specific schedule for your new friend that includes the time to wake up, the time to eat, and of course the time to go outside for a visit with nature. Generally, almost regardless of what else is happening, you should plan on going outside or to the pad at least once every two hours if your puppy is quite young. Put it on a leash and walk it to your preferred spot. Reward your new friend if it does what you want it to do.

3.     Work Potty Trips Into the Routine

In addition to walking your puppy outside every two hours, a good guide to potty training your puppy should include the suggestion that you work potty trips into the rest of your furry friend’s routine. For instance, your puppy should go visit your preferred spot every time it finishes a meal, every time it wakes up from a nap, and every time it finishes a rigorous session of playtime. You should also take it outside or to the pad immediately after it wakes up and right before you put it to bed – whether it’s in a crate or not – for the night. Before long, your puppy will catch on to this routine and understand that it’ll soon be time to go outside. That reduces the chance of accidents.

4.     Crate Math

If you’re going to crate your dog, which is increasingly common these days, you need to keep in mind that your friend’s little bladder can only hold on for so long. If you’re going to be leaving it in the crate for several hours while you sleep or work, be ready to either wake up or come home to help it avoid suffering in that crate. The general rule is the “Months + 1 Rule,” meaning that your puppy can generally hold off on relieving itself one hour for every month of its age plus one additional hour. Therefore, if your puppy is three months old, it probably can’t hold off on urinating for more than four hours or so. Plan your own schedule accordingly.

5.     Positivity

A guide to potty training a puppy would not be complete without some information on your own mindset. It’s easy to get frustrated or to experience doubt when your puppy has accidents or if it’s been a few weeks and it still hasn’t completely figured out this whole nature’s calling thing yet. Don’t come down hard on your puppy when it has an accident. Be stern, interrupt it when you see it and then say something like, “Outside!” before immediately bringing it to your preferred spot. As said, lavish your puppy with rewards when it does the right thing, but above all else, remember that this is a process that’s going to take some time. Teaching any creature how to relieve itself is, from its standpoint, a radical departure from one of the foundations of what it knows in life, so it’s going to be stressful for your new friend as well.

Overall, a guide to potty training your puppy requires commitment and patience. Your dog will want to please you, its master and owner, so help your friend do so by staying focused. Don’t get discouraged and don’t ever get lax on the routine, the enforcement or the messages you give your puppy. Instead, be ready to handle a few accidents here and there, even after you think potty training is over. Generally speaking, a puppy is somewhat likely to have an accident every now and then until it gets past the age of approximately six months.

For help on potty training or any other new puppy issues – reach out to your KONG Club pet coach!