Potty training tips by Vancouver Dog Trainer


Baby Blue Nala puppy taking on the world

Prepare – before your puppy comes home

You will need a confined Space. Enough room for crate, chew item, water, potty station in a pen or baby gated area to use when you are not able to give your puppy complete supervision. Every time your puppy has an accident you are missing an opportunity to reward and put their elimination on cue. Example “go potty” “do your business”

Before your puppy comes home, be sure you are ready by setting up a confined space. Dogs are den animals, meaning the average puppy does not like to eliminate where they eat and sleep. Make sure the space is proportionate for your puppy. They should be able to comfortably move around, stretch in their sleeping (crate).


Picking the right spot – Your dogs potty spot in your yard, on the cub or outside of your building needs to be a quite spot (as quiet as it can be in the city) with no surprizes example beside a buss stop and a loud bus with air breaks is not idea. You dog will need to be able to relax and have room for the puppy to circle and sniff. Spend lots of time in this area getting your puppy habituated and comfortable in this space.


Rewards – HAVE A POTTY PARTY when your dog eliminates outside. Give him a treat (THE BEST TREAT), give him affection, praise, toss a toy and celebrate! And keep rewarding each and every time.


Watch For Signals – sniffing, circling crouching, whining.

Watch for signals and your dog getting distracted from the toy, you or whatever your dog was doing, sniffing around, circling or whining can be signs an accident it about to happen. As soon as you see any of these signs take your dog out. Remember to carry your puppy if it is a long distance to outside or you live in building with an elevator.

Tether to You – keep them close to supervise, it also teaches them how to follow you and be under your feet, be comfortable on a leash as well as impossible for you to miss a potty sign. This way they can have time out of the crate or confined space, but can’t get into chewing or potty trouble.


Crate Train – Learning to hold it

The crate – the puppy crate should come with a space divider. Use this divider to make the crate smaller. Your puppy should be able to stand up, turn around and lay down. If they have accidents in their crate your puppy was either in the crate too long, the crate space was too large, or the puppy was put in the crate without all of their needs being met. Never crate your puppy if all of their needs are not met. They have had a chance to potty after eating and drinking, had mental stimulation and play time.

A crate is one of the best tools for potty training a puppy. Dogs try to avoid eliminating in a confined space, so crating encourages them to hold it. If they are free roaming with pee pads, they never learn to hold it. Use the crate any time you can’t watch your pup, even if you are just in the shower or on a quick run to the store.


Chart it – create a schedule and stick to it.

Feed your puppy at set times every day and chart how long after eating and drinking your puppy eliminates, once you can get them on a routine, it will be easier to prevent accidents. Place your chart in a central area that all family members can see. Your puppy will typically need a potty break immediately after each nap, mid play session. Set your timer!

Accidents – never punish, scold, strike, yell, rub their nose in it, startle them or overreact.

Using punishment methods teaches the puppy not to eliminate in front of you. It will lead to your puppy understanding that eliminating in front of you results in punishment so they should eliminate behind a door, under the bed or couch. Success is your puppy being relaxed and confident eliminating in front of you.