How to Potty Train a Puppy to Go Outside

Most owners struggle with how to potty train a puppy to eliminate outside. Though the task may seem daunting, potty training happens quickly if done properly.

Stay Positive

Unless a punishment happens within a second of the behavior, your puppy won't connect the action with the punishment. Thus, if you find an accident hours after it happened, your puppy doesn't know why he's in trouble, even if you rub his nose in it.

Dogs don't innately understand that they can't eliminate wherever they want. Instead of becoming afraid to go in the house, many become afraid to go in front of their owners, causing them to sneak off and eliminate in private places, like the owner's bedroom.

Thus, instead of punishing, reward your dog for going in the correct place. Take your dog outside and watch them eliminate. Once they have, reward with praise and treats.

Eliminate Opportunity for Mistakes

The more mistakes your puppy makes in the house, the longer the scent lasts, encouraging him to eliminate inside again. Thus, if your dog never learns that he can eliminate in the house, he never will.

This may seem impossible to accomplish, but it isn't if you keep your puppy within your sights at all times, just as you would with your toddler. When you can't watch your dog, put him in his crate or an X pen with a potty pad. This will eliminate careless accidents.

Set a Schedule

  1. Keep track of how often your dog needs to relieve himself. Keep a journal if necessary. If you feed your puppy at set times each day, he will usually need to relieve himself at the same time each day. 
  2. Thus, for example, take your puppy outside as soon as he wakes up. If he does all the business he usually needs to do in the morning, reward him and take him back inside. Stand outside with him each time, so you can see what he does. Many puppies will go outside and forget to eliminate.
  3. Keep track of how long your dog can hold it. For example, if he can hold it an hour, allow him 45 minutes of house freedom where he can run and play in the room you are in. Keep him on leash so you can rush him outside if you see him start to sniff around.
  4. After 45 minutes, take him outside again. Use the leash to lead him to the door you eventually want him to use on his own. Don't carry him or he will learn to come to you when he has to go, which can look like begging for attention, causing you to ignore his pleas.
  5. If he goes, allow him 45 more minutes of house freedom. If not, put him in his crate. You can leave him in here for up to a half hour before trying again. If he goes at that time, he earns the freedom.
  6. Repeat this throughout the day.

By preventing him from making mistakes, you set your dog up for potty training success. He will soon learn that he needs to go outside to be rewarded and will begin to run to the door on his own. At this time, you can begin to allow him more freedom. If he makes even one mistake, restrict his freedom again. This will ensure fewer accidents and greater chance for success.