Potty Training Pups. Can Dogs Learn To Go Both Inside and Out?

Introducing Pee Pads

Pee pads can be a useful tool when house training a puppy. Puppies under 16 weeks old do not have full bladder control and need frequent potty breaks. Pee pads allow them to relieve themselves indoors until they gain control. Introduce pee pads when you first bring your puppy home, usually around 8-12 weeks old.

Place pee pads in an easily accessible area, such as a corner of the kitchen or laundry room. Lay down several pads, as puppies may miss when first learning. The smell of the pads attracts puppies to use them. You can also place pads near doors for easy outdoor access.

When you place your puppy on the pad, use a command like “go potty” so they associate the pads with relieving themselves. Be patient as puppies learn by repetition. Reward successes with treats and praise so they understand this is where to go.

a puppy peeing on a potty pad

According to The Puppy Academy, diligent repetition over several weeks will teach puppies to use pads on their own when needed.

Transitioning Outside

The key to successfully transitioning your puppy’s potty breaks outside is timing and positive reinforcement. Puppies have small bladders when they’re young so you’ll want to start taking them outside frequently, every 30 minutes to an hour at first. Take your puppy out when they wake up, after playing, after eating or drinking water, and any time you see them start to sniff and circle looking for a place to go.

Always praise and reward your puppy immediately after they go potty outside. Use treats, pets, verbal praise like “Good potty!”, and play as rewards. This positive reinforcement helps your puppy understand that outside is the right place to go. Avoid punishing accidents inside, as that can confuse your puppy and delay progress.

Accidents will happen during this transition period. Stay calm, clean it up thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner, and make a mental note to take your puppy out more frequently or watch for signals. If you catch your puppy in the act of an accident, interrupt with a firm “No” then immediately take them outside to show them the right spot.
a puppy peeing outside

Establishing a Routine

Establishing a consistent routine is key to successfully potty training your puppy. Puppies do best on a regular schedule. Take your puppy outside frequently, at least every 1-2 hours during the day. It’s recommended to take your puppy outside after meals, naps, playtime, first thing in the morning, and right before bedtime (Human Society).

Take your puppy out consistently after major events like waking up, eating, and playing. For example, set a timer and take your puppy out 30 minutes after eating. Puppies usually need to relieve themselves after eating. Establishing this routine helps them learn to associate going potty with being outside (AKC).

Take your puppy out preemptively before crating for naps and bedtime. Don’t wait for them to indicate they need to go. Eight-week old puppies can’t hold their bladders for long periods, so err on the side of caution (Preventive Vet). Consistency and routine helps puppies understand where and when they should go potty.


A crate can be an invaluable tool when house training your puppy. According to the AKC, crate training utilizes a puppy’s natural instincts to keep their space clean and avoid soiling their “den” https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-potty-train-a-puppy/. By providing your puppy a small, confined area when you can’t directly supervise them, you can reduce the chances of accidents around the house.

puppy in a crate

Proper crate training involves providing a crate that is just large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It should be placed in a high-traffic area during the day so your puppy doesn’t feel isolated. Make the crate comfortable with a blanket and some safe chew toys. Begin crate training slowly, starting with brief sessions of just 10-15 minutes at a time.

When used correctly, crate training can help reinforce good potty habits since most puppies will not soil their sleeping space if they can avoid it. However, crates should never be used as punishment. With positive reinforcement and consistency, your puppy will learn to view their crate as a safe, comforting space.

Supervising Puppy

Preventing accidents and correcting mistakes are key to successfully potty training your puppy. According to https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-potty-train-your-dog-or-puppy, you should supervise your puppy at all times when they are indoors. Keep them in your sight or tether them to you with a leash so you can quickly catch them before they have an accident. If you catch them in the act of peeing or pooping indoors, make a startling noise to interrupt the behavior and immediately take them outside to finish. Praise and reward them when they go in the right spot.

It’s also crucial to thoroughly clean any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner, according to https://be.chewy.com/how-to-potty-train-your-dog-in-7-days/. This helps remove the smell that may attract your puppy back to the same spot. Restrict access to rooms with uncleaned accidents. Close supervision prevents mistakes so you can get your puppy on a successful potty training routine.

Rewarding Outside Potty

It is crucial to immediately reward your puppy every time they successfully eliminate outside. As soon as your puppy finishes going potty, provide enthusiastic praise and give them a treat while they’re still outside (within 3 seconds is best). This positive reinforcement helps establish that going potty outside is the desired behavior.

You can say an encouraging phrase like “Good potty!” right when they start to go, then continue praising and give the treat after they finish. Consistently rewarding successful outdoor potties is the only way your puppy will learn where they should eliminate. According to the Humane Society, “This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected” (https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-potty-train-your-dog-or-puppy).

It’s also helpful to establish a verbal potty cue like “Go potty” to say right when you take your pup outside. Say it once then wait quietly – don’t repeat it. Over time your puppy will associate the phrase with going to the bathroom. Reddit users recommend saying the cue word happily and using the same reward treats each time (https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/s4nm88/how_to_reward_puppy_for_going_potty_outside_when/).

Managing Accidents

Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. It’s important not to punish the puppy for accidents in the house, as this can lead to fear and anxiety which will set back potty training. Instead, focus on properly cleaning any messes to remove odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot. When an accident happens, immediately take the puppy outside to try finishing in the proper potty area so they learn where they should go. Give praise and a treat for finishing outside.

To clean accidents, blot up urine right away with an absorbent towel to remove as much liquid as possible. For dried urine or feces, scrape off any solids. Then use an enzymatic cleaner formulated to neutralize odors and discourage repeat accidents. Do not use ammonia or vinegar, as their smells are similar to urine. Thoroughly saturate the area and let the cleaner soak in for 5-10 minutes before blotting. Finally, rinse with clean water and allow the area to fully dry.

cleaning up a puppy accident

During potty training, consider confining the puppy to a crate or small room when you can’t actively supervise. This prevents accidents around the house. The close quarters will encourage them to hold it until taken outside. Crating is most effective for puppies under 6 months old. Make sure to also take the puppy out frequently, about every 30-60 minutes when they are active and after meals, naps, and playtime.

Potty Before Bed

Taking a puppy for one final potty break right before bedtime sets up a routine and helps minimize accidents overnight. According to How to Toilet Train Your Puppy at Night: A Step-by-Step Guide | Piddle Patch, use the “last call” system before bed. Before going to bed at night, give your puppy a “last call” and allow them one last chance to use the toilet before you turn in for the night.

It’s also recommended to limit a puppy’s water intake before bedtime to reduce the need for overnight potty trips. As noted by Surviving the Night with Your New Puppy | Housebreaking Bible, overnight potty trips should be strictly for business. Take the puppy directly outside to their designated potty area and wait a few minutes for them to go. When finished, calmly praise and return to the crate.

Being Consistent

Consistency is key when house training a puppy to use pee pads and go potty outside. Puppies thrive on routine and responding the same way to behaviors helps reinforce what is expected (AKC). Sticking to a strict schedule for taking your puppy outside, for example first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime, is important. Also be sure that all family members are using the same verbal cues like “go potty” or “get busy” when taking the puppy out (Tractive). If one person uses “go pee” and another says “go potty”, this can confuse the puppy. Set up a schedule that works for your household and stick to it. Take the puppy out at the same times each day and use the same language cues consistently.

Signs of Progress

As your puppy learns to use the pee pads and go potty outside, you’ll start to notice longer intervals between accidents inside the home. This is a great sign that your training is working! Puppies physically cannot hold their bladder for long at first, but as they grow and gain control, they’ll be able to wait longer between potty breaks.

You’ll also notice your puppy start to communicate their need to go potty through whining, pacing, circling, sniffing around, or going to the door. Pay close attention for these cues. When you see them, immediately take your puppy outside or to the pee pad spot. Reward and praise them when they finish going potty in the right spot.

With consistency, your puppy will learn to “hold it” for longer periods and let you know when they need to go. This progress means accidents in the house will become less frequent. Be patient during this process. Consistently reward and reinforce the right behaviors!

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