Successful Puppy Potty Training…Part 1 (success or failure, the choice is yours…)

Successful Puppy Potty Training Depends On You

New puppies are great fun. They’re cute and cuddly; they’re playful and friendly. Who can resist the charms of a sweet, innocent puppy? Your new family member is so loveable that you can almost forget one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when that cute little puppy comes home – potty training.

Puppy Potty Training can be a fun together time

Puppy potty training, also known as housebreaking your puppy, is rarely easy. In fact, at times, it can be downright frustrating and upsetting. However, there are ways to make sure you both get through the process successfully. Let’s start with these tips to get you and your puppy off on the right paw!

Know Your Puppy’s Potty Dance

You’ll want to catch your puppy in the act when possible, so you can teach puppy the right place to go potty. Start watching your puppy for signs of a ‘potty dance.’ These signs often come right after eating or drinking, and very often after a good bit of playful activity.  After you feed your puppy, watch for signs of sniffing, circling, and squatting.  Also, after you play, observe puppy for those same kinds of ‘looking for a place to piddle or poop’ signs.

Assign a Potty Spot

When you catch your puppy getting ready, you’ll need to show him or her where to go potty. If possible, the best thing to do is take puppy outside right away in order to help train him that the inside of the house is not a potty spot. If that’s not possible because puppy is too little to wait until you can get outside to the potty spot, then you will likely need to paper-train puppy first with a spot in the house. Puppy will be able to hold on longer and longer as time goes by, making it possible to plan an outdoor excursion to the potty spot.

Verbal Cues

I discovered, quite by accident, that you can assign a verbal cue to help your dog understand you want them to do a pee-pee.  Shortly after we adopted our dog, Chloe, I was walking her and needed to leave the house for work.  She was doing her doggy thing and snooping around instead of getting down to business.  I tried to encourage her by saying, “Quick, quick!  Do a pee-pee!”  Much to my amazement, she squatted and did a pee-pee!  I tried it again another time, and the same thing happened.  While I will never know if her puppy potty training included that cue on purpose or by accident (she was sooo smart), I encourage you to give that verbal cue as soon as you see your puppy starting to pee.  It can come in very handy when time is short.

Reward Good Behavior

If puppy goes potty in the right spot, a reward is in order. This can be your praise and affection or it could be a special treat just for potty time. A mixture of treats, praise, and playtime works very well for puppies. Because puppy wants only to please you and only to play with you, your praise and play means everything to them, and they will do anything to get it – including go potty in the right place.  Never punish your puppy for making a mistake or for having accident!

Remember, puppy potty training is essential for a long happy life together with your puppy.  There is a Part 2, because you have more to do in your puppy potty training adventure!


To Your Dog’s Good Health!Chloe at 17

Cheryl Major


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About Cheryl Major

Cheryl Major has been a volunteer at The Buddy Dog Humane Society in Massachusetts for 14 years, and has been on their Board of Trustees since 2008. Her blog,, is a labor of love. She has also been involved in passing animal protection legislation at the city and state levels and was a regular guest on New England Cable News (NECN) for their "Adopt a Pet Segment". This blog is dedicated to the joys and challenges of dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages with whom we share our lives.


Successful Puppy Potty Training…Part 1 (success or failure, the choice is yours…) — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Cheryl,
    We have a new puppy, another mini-schnauzer. Boy, do I need this advice. We also have Bob’s service dog, who is perfectly trained, of course. Treva, the new pup, is a challenge. She thinks our dining room carpet is the potty area. The previous owner had a small dog and the next door neighbor told me that the prior owner had trouble with potty training. She will go potty outside if you go out with her and wait forever. Verbal cues and treats don’t seem to help. If you go for a walk, she’s is more interested in the walk, than going potty. Will you come to the south to help me?

    • I’m so bad about checking for comments! So sorry I missed your message. How wonderful to have a new puppy. I soooo miss my Chloe. Would love to come to help, but as that is not going to happen right now, I hope the suggestions help. Have you tried click training? Get a clicker at the pet store (they’re cheap) and whenever she squats to go, click and treat. Try some sliced turkey or something more unusual than a regular dog treat…especially if she’s not food motivated. Keep me posted! C

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