The Hard & Fast Rules for Potty Training your Puppy

Marissa MartinoBehavior & Training Resources


  • Assign who will be taking the puppy to the bathroom throughout the day.  
  • Times when a puppy needs to go to the bathroom are:
    • When he/she wakes up
    • Every 2-3 hours
    • 20 minutes after she eats
    • Right after play
    • Right before she goes to sleep
  • Put the puppy on a 2-3 meals a day feeding schedule.  During each meal time, place the puppy’s food on the ground.  If she does not finish eating the food within 20 minutes, pick up the bowl and try again at the next feeding time.
  • Pick up the water bowl at 8 pm to prevent accidents in the evening.
  • Designate a confinement space such as a crate and/or an exercise pen.  This is where you will leave the puppy when you leave the house or when you cannot supervise the puppy.


  • Reinforce with a special treat IMMEDIATELY after the puppy goes to the bathroom in the correct spot!
  • If she goes to the bathroom in the correct place, the puppy can be off leash and roam near you in the house.  Note* If you play with her for an extended perios of time, the puppy may need to go out again as playing and excitement stimulates puppies to pee.
  • If the puppy does NOT go, place her back in the confinement area/crate for 10 minutes and then try again until she goes potty in the right spot.  AVOID giving the puppy off leash access in the house if she is not “empty”.  
  • Tether the puppy to you if you cannot place her in a crate/confinement area.  This way you can interrupt the puppy if she decides to have an accident.  Interrupt the puppy gently and scoop her up and take her to the right spot.
  • Do not punish the puppy for going to the bathroom in the house.  This may cause the puppy to be scared of you and she will learn to go to the bathroom away from you.  Simply interrupt the puppy and bring her outside to finish in the right spot.