Puppy Training

How to Potty Train a Puppy Fast: The Ultimate Guide

Learning how to potty train a puppy can be a challenge…. I know!

But there is a way to train this with great success. This way accidents will be few and your new puppy will know what to do within only a few days of learning.

This is SO important... Because teaching your puppy good potty habits is the basis for a trusting and loving relationship between you and your new family member.

Ignoring potty training, on the other hand, is one of the major reasons that people return, sell or even put their dogs down. So you see, it’s important stuff to get right.

I’m not saying that it’ll be a walk in the park. Actually, it’ll be a lot of walks in the park 🙂 And accidents will happen; that’s just part of the game and you must be ready to deal with this as well…

But when you and your puppy master this, it will make your life much easier. Your puppy will be happy and confident, which will give your relationship a great start!

So just dig in! Here’s my ultimate guide from which you can pick and choose to set you and your puppy up for potty training success fast.


How to potty train a puppy fast - potty training fundamentals


When you remember the basic instructions it will enable you to set the right course. This way you’ll be sure always to stay on track on how to potty train your puppy, even when there are accidents and setbacks.

First of all, you need to be picky when you choose your breeder, it starts with him and the habits he gives your puppy. So check him out, visit the puppies at home with the breeder, ask for habits and observe his behavior! Eg does he carry the puppy outside when it needs to? Even when you visit him, he should still pay the puppies a lot of attention.

Secondly, remember to keep a cool head - you’re the trusted adults here! The puppy is a child in dog terms and you have to be consistent parents. You need to go outside with your puppy and not only when it suits you. You also have to go out with her when you’re still sleepy or actually much rather would talk to your friends... Or even when you think it’s not your turn and you're busy doing something else that seems more important…

You also need to be patient. Eg it is important that you remember to give her all the time she needs when you're out walking. You must accept that she can not learn this in one day. Your pet is your responsibility, she’s depending on you.

Above all; PRAISE your puppy in a soft voice whenever she gets it right. It’s a big deal, so let her know how pleased you are! But keep your voice down, you don’t want to startle her or interrupt her in the act as this can make her afraid of you.

When she’s finished, you can celebrate all you want. This way she'll know that what she did was fantastic - and also, you’ll have fun together!

Easy to say, but a bit more difficult to do, is to keep a close eye on your puppy at all times. Even so, it’s important that she does not run around the home on her own. So if your home is too big for you to look out for her all the time, you must restrain her area. Alternatively, you can give her a break in a crate - I’ll get back to this.

I'll say it again; keep a close eye on your puppy at all times - also when she’s outside to relieve herself. You need to keep her on a leash and go outside with her. This has two major functions. First of all to encourage her to go by using the same phrase every time (go pee, go potty or what you might choose). This can ultimately end up helping you to almost make your dog go on command when you go to the usual spot. In addition to going to the same place and using the same phrase make sure to also praise her under and after the act, just as mentioned above.

No matter how perfect your puppy is, remember that all training is a process. Don’t get discouraged over accidents, these things WILL happen! Instead look for what’s working and keep building on your wins and focus on getting better over time.

Even when your dog is housebroken, do not expect miracles, like the one below 🙂

The clip above shows us what unreasonable expectations look like 🙂 Remember to set your own expectations at the right level.

Your puppy will still have accidents… It sounds bad, but actually, it’s not. It might be because she’s so happy that your home, that she pees a little in sheer excitement. And that's understandable, right 🙂

Or it might be because she’s behaving so fantasticly that you forget she’s still just a puppy. If that's the case you might forget that she still hasn’t got complete control. So you forget the routines that make her great.

Also, you must test her once in awhile. As she grows, the duration for how long your puppy will be able to hold it in will increase. Testing this can go well if you’re patient and careful. But if you’re not - well, back to the fact, that accidents will happen 🙂

First, when she’s a year or so, you can expect her to have very few accidents - if any!


Setting your puppy's routine


Our puppy is not old enough to manage self-control at first. This means that you need to be in control here to set the right framework for your puppy's potty training routine. You  will find that having a basic schedule in mind will make it so much easier for you and your dog to get success both easy and fast.

This is SO important! Take your puppy outside to eliminate during the following times...

  • As the first thing in the morning. Avoid getting her excited eg by greeting her gladly. This will only make it harder for her to keep it in - you might recognize this from yourself 🙂
  • Every time she wakes from a nap as her first reaction will be to go to the bathroom (figuratively :)).
  • During and after play - she’ll get so excited, she needs to go even she herself does not know yet 🙂
  • 5-30 minutes after feeding time. You’ll soon know if it’s 5 or 30 minutes. But until you do, start with bringing her outside 5 minutes after eating and be patient, just waiting for it.
  • If none of the above mentioned happens, you should take her out every hour (this depends on the size of the dog but this is a good guideline for the most common breeds). This will give her the opportunity to relieve herself before it becomes an urgent matter.
  • Always in the same area. The scent will make her want to go and she’ll create a strong habit - and we do love good habits… 
  • Always go to the same surface, fx grass, if away from home and the usual spot  
  • As the last thing you do before going to bed. Remember to be patient here as well, even though you just want to go to bed...
  • If she needs to in the middle of the night. But keep it silent and quick. She might think it’s time to play after having relieved herself, but you must show her it's not. This you do by being silent and returning her to bed immediately that this is not the case.

Also, it’s important to establish regular eating habits. This you do by controlling what your puppy eats and drinks. So you need to remove the bowl of food when your puppy is no longer interested, even though she has not eaten it all.

This is important because you have to take her out 5-30 minutes after she has eaten. If you let her eat all the time, you don’t know when to bring her out...  And don’t worry, she’ll eat again later this day, and will not starve!

To help your puppy to hold it in at night, you can remove the water bowl 2 hours before sleeping. This will help your puppy to sleep longer at night without having to go outside to pee. And you will sleep longer as well...

Most puppies can sleep for about 7 hours without having to relieve themselves if you get the conditions right. Sounds good, doesn't it? 🙂

By following the simple steps outlined above you are well on your way to having a successful potty training method on your hands - and it works!


Identifying when your puppy needs to go


Even though you get all the routines right, your puppy is a lovely living creature - not a machine. So she might want to relive herself in other times as well.

As a consequence, you must always watch out for the signs, that she’s about to burst :). If she looks restless, is barking or scratching at the door, there might be a reason - take her outside and check it out.

If she’s sniffing around and/or circling you have to hurry! Take her outside right now, because this is a sign, that she’s trampling the grass down to have a poo. She just wants to avoid having grass in the butt 🙂


Accidents WILL happen


Unless you’re superman or -woman and/or your dog is an unicorn, accidents will happen. This is just the way it is, the important thing is how you deal with it.

Do NOT punish your puppy when she pees or poops inside. If you do not catch her in the act, just clean it up and keep a closer eye on her next time. To be brutally honest: it’s your fault, not hers.

You do not want your puppy to be afraid of you or afraid to relieve herself when you’re present. This will happen if you punish your puppy for doing something it needs to do by nature. Punishing will potentially do a lot of damage to your dogs mental health, so don’t go down that road.  

If you do catch her in the act peeing/pooping inside, you must interrupt it. Say a noise so you startle her, but without scaring her and then take her outside.

Here you must be patient and wait for her to finish what she started, and praise her for doing so in the right place.


Restrain the area, where your puppy can go freely inside


It is vital for the success of your puppy potty training that you keep an eye on your puppy at all times. That is why I recommend restraining the area, where you leave your puppy to run free. To do so, you can use a children grid to make a smaller space. You can also do this in every room you are in yourself.

It is best if you give your puppy the opportunity to go to a door to show that it needs to go. Remember to consider this every time you retrain an area.

If you do not have a grid or if you prefer, you can tie your puppy to your waist or leg with a string. This will remind you that your puppy is “on your tail”. That makes it very clear that you’re the responsible party and have to make sure to keep an eye, always. 

It will also prevent your puppy from sneaking away to do whatever it feels like, which can be really helpful!


Crate training


Ok, so it’ll be almost impossible for you to keep an eye on your puppy at all times the first critical days. I know. And of course, you can take a break once in awhile - and give her one as well.

But you must not let your puppy roam alone in your house, and that’s why a crate is a good solution.

If you introduce your puppy to its crate in the right way, she’ll see it as her den. All dogs instinctively will not want to soil their den, so here nature helps us - again.

So what’s important about crates? Size matters! It’s important that you use a crate that is large enough for your puppy to stand, lie and turn without problems. But it must not be so big, that your puppy can divide the crate in a sleeping area and a place to relieve itself.

Also, you have to consider how long your puppy can be left in the crate. You can never leave your puppy in a crate for longer than 2 hours. And if your puppy is from a small breed, then even shorter time, as their blatter of course also is smaller. As a general rule, dogs can be left alone depending on their age like this: Their age in months + 1 equals the hours.

Your puppy will love you for making its crate into a nice place. So leave her favorite toys in there and reward her with a treat or two and lots of praise for going into and being in her crate. This can help provide a safe place for your puppy that will be useful for many years even long after your dog is potty trained.

It is crucial that you never use the crate as a punishment. It’s important that your puppy sees the crate as her den so she won’t want to soil it. It's also important that she enjoys being in the crate in all situations. This way you can easily use the crate as a place to have a time out. You might think this as punishing, but if your dog loves its crate it's much different in your dog's mind. 


Dogs can smell odors that you can’t


Actually, their nose is about 1 million times stronger than ours... And this is a good to have in mind as they prefer to go to the same spots to relieve themselves. This will help your training - or spoil it :).

So to help you and your puppy choose a specific spot for her to relieve herself. The scent will remind her to pee or poop right there...

This is also true if your puppy has had an accident inside... So it’s important that you clean up any accidents right away. Remember to use enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors.

Take Care: Some cleansers can be lethal to dogs if they should get a taste for it (Rodalon is an example)


If you need to leave your puppy alone for a longer time - or your dog is a designated indoor dog


Until your puppy is old enough to wait for you to come home before it has to relieve itself, you must set the right conditions for her. This way you make it possible for your puppy to get success.

So if you are not at home to keep an eye on your dog, what to do?

If you are so fortuned to have the opportunity to put your dog in your kennel, this is the solution. Remember though, that your puppy will see this area as a kind of crate. So when you come home and take her out, you must give her opportunity to relieve herself outside, how weird it might sound.

If not, get a responsible person to check up on your puppy and go for a walk to let her relieve herself. Maybe your neighbor, maybe a professional dog walker.

If neither of these is an option or if your dog is a designated indoor dog, you must give her the opportunity to relieve herself inside.  
This you do by keeping her in an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to relieve herself. In the designated elimination area, use either newspaper (cover the area with several layers of newspaper) or a sod box. Potty-pads can also be a solution. I'll get back to this.
If you clean up an accident in the house, you can place some of the soiled rags in the designated elimination area. The smell will help your puppy recognize that this is the place to relieve itself.

As mentioned potty-pads could be an option. These enable you to teach your dog to relieve itself indoor on the potty pad in the same way you teach a dog to relieve herself outside.

Should you later choose to bring your dog outside to potty you can teach her this as well by gradually bringing the potty pads outside. But be aware that it takes more time and requires more patience.

For more tips go to AKC blog on this topic: answershttp://www.akc.org/learn/akc-training/the-ins-and-outs-of-potty-pad-training/

If your dog is not a designated indoor dog, I recommend placing the elimination area near the door to outside. The reason for this is you want the puppy to get out every time it needs to go. But should you fail, you want it at least to seek the door to give you a heads up. 

Be aware that allowing your dog to relieve itself inside can prolong the learning process because it confuses the puppy. It'll be confused: can I go inside or outside - or both?! So if you want your dog to eventually relieve itself outside, I don’t recommend you to allow your puppy to relieve itself inside. Seek other possibilities.


Puppy potty punchlines:  


        • Be patient 🙂
        • Be quick and consistent to get your puppy out from the very first day
        • Make a good routine with your puppy
        • Praise your puppy when she does what you want - let her know she’s a superstar!
        • Never punish your puppy for accidents; they will happen, and actually you are to blame, not her 🙂
        • Set your puppy up for success by keeping an eye on her at all times. Do this by restraining her area and use a crate to give both of you and your puppy a break once in awhile
        • Accept that this, like all training, is a process. Look for what’s working and keep building on your wins and focus on getting better over time.

Following these tips will make your puppy house trained in a week! And this will pay off in every way for the rest of your life together.

Right now I have 3 dogs, and 2 of these are from the same litter. I housetrained two puppies at the same time so I know that it can be hard to keep an eye on your puppy at all times during the first days. After all, your routines also need to change and that’s always tricky. And you might also need to go to work - or not?

Actually, I recommend that you start your new life with your puppy taking at least a week off from work! It’s the best investment of your time you can do when you get a puppy...

And when you do get back to work I recommend that you start up with less than a full day.

In this way, you make sure that you can put in the hours with your puppy.  This will give your relationship the absolutely best start, not only in regards to potty-training but in every possible way.

And trust me, it’s all worth it in the end. Through learning how to potty train a puppy fast your life will be a lot easier and you will love your puppy even more. So your puppy will have no worries - feeling only your love. She’ll have faith in you and have a strong self-confidence. This will turn her into a balanced dog, ready for whatever you want her to do. It makes it possible to enjoy your time together from the very beginning 🙂

Once you have gotten your puppy potty trained you might want to work on training other behaviors. You might be interested in this post with methods and tactics on how how to stop canine chewing aka puppy biting/nipping. Or check out this post on getting and maintaining your dogs attention, which is the most fundamental aspect of all obedience training. It is also a great thing to have practiced before going to any socialization or training classes.


I hope you have found value in this post!

If yes, please share. If not, please help me making this guide even better by telling your best potty-trick or posting questions if you have not gotten the answer in this post or below in my Q&A section below - I would love to hear from you!

How to potty train a puppy fast - Q&A:

At what age is it optimal to do house training? As described it starts with the breeder. As soon as the puppies start eating solid food, their mom will stop cleaning their den, and they’ll be ready to start learning. So if you start at 7-8 weeks old, your puppy will learn everything real fast, faster than 7 days - if you follow this guide. The older your puppy is before potty training starts, the longer time you’ll have to work on it because your puppy will then have to change her habits - and that takes a little longer.

How to make a sod box: To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a large plastic container, could be a drawer from under a bed or something like that.

Crate training - why? Crate training uses a dog's natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog's den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog's den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge. Puppies prefer their own den, where they can go to relax and go away from other dogs or people. Make it a happy place, reward your dog for choosing the crate and it’ll love it.

Crate training - when? When you can't or won't have an eye on every finger and start when you get the puppy. At the beginning, reward your puppy for going inside, not closing the door. After a while close the door and praise the puppy inside for just a few minutes. If you do this regularly your puppy will choose it on it’s own

How often do I have to go outside with my puppy? It depends on the size of the breed. With a young puppy from a small breed, start with every 15 minutes and look at your pup. If there are still accidents, you have to go more often, if not, you can try to increase to 45 minutes and so on - you'll not be able to avoid accidents altogether, but you'll learn from your puppy,and you'll grow together.

How often do I have to take the puppy out at night? Most puppies can wait in 6-7 hours before they have to "go to the toilet", but again the breed matters - and also your routines before bedtime - you need to go out as the last thing you do before bedtime and it’s wise to remove the water bowl some hours before bedtime.

How do I know if my puppy needs to go? The sure signs that it’s time, is when your puppy is sniffing around and/or circling or if she’s restless. But if you see these signs, you have missed out on going often enough. You need to go outside with your puppy every time she wakes up from a nap when she has eaten when she is playing or just done playing.

How to potty train my new dog - When she is NOT a puppy but older? Make sure you know as much as possible about how she has been trained before. This is important as it is your way to know what you can expect. Eg if she has been trained to pee on a potty pad, you can not expect her to want to go outside to pee.
If you do not know anything about her history, I’ll recommend crate-training her and even though she’s older and her bladder is bigger, you need to be patient, because you are now fighting a habit, and as you might recognize from yourself, this can be hard - but it’s absolutely possible.

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  1. victoria ingham

    November 27, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much for this great guide it certainly full of help for your puppy needs a great read I recomend it to anyone who as got a puppy its worth it


    • Lene Kaufmann

      January 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Thank you very much – I’m glad you liked it 🙂


  2. Diane

    July 25, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Excellent training procedures. We have done exactly what you described with all our dogs and it’s worked out very well. I also like that you refer to the dogs point of view in your posts.


    • Lene Kaufmann

      July 28, 2017 at 4:53 am

      I’m so glad you have found value in my training advice and thank you so much for sharing. In my experience, having your dogs point of view in mind in future training will make it more efficient and you’ll have a happy dog at your side – thank you for noticing, your dogs will continue loving you for this 🙂


  3. Steve B.

    July 25, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I came across this article about 3 months ago right when I was looking around for a puppy to buy. I found the dog of my dreams (a golden doodle) and after 2 months of following your training tips, as well as some phone calls to a carpet cleaning company to remove some carpet stains, my puppy is finally consistently going potty outside. Thanks so much for your help!


    • Lene Kaufmann

      July 26, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you so much and thank you for sharing – also the carpet cleaning tips 🙂 What a fantastic way to put it: the dog of your dreams. Having solved the potty problem, I’m sure you’ll continue to feel this way; this gives a perfect foundation for your future work together – well done!


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About Lene Kaufmann

Lene Kaufmann

Hi, I’m Lene (and this is Atlas). One of my biggest passions in life is dogs and dog training, and after having trained multiple award winning hunting dogs as well as trained hundreds of new puppy owners in my own personal offline courses, I wanted to create a site where I could help readers by passing on what I have learned about training happy and healthy puppies. I believe that dogs can be the greatest source of happiness and fulfillment, and it all starts by building the right foundation with your young puppy.