“I have a new puppy who is not potty trained and he has gone to the bathroom several times behind our sofa in the family room,

Q What is the best way to potty train a puppy to not go in the house?”

Puppy Potty Training (Housebreaking) is one of the key lessons for a puppy to learn. There are several things you can do when potty training to help your new puppy learn that the place to ‘take care of their business’ is outside.

The reason your puppy has selected behind the sofa as a place to relieve is that this location seems ‘out of the way’ to the puppy and the carpet responds like grass  by absorbing the urine.

A young puppy has a small bladder and needs to go outside frequently. This is why when potty training a puppy, devising a schedule and sticking to it is key! This schedule can be modified as the puppy gets older and has more bladder control but in the beginning, it is important to provide with regular opportunities to go out and ‘relieve’.

puppy potty training


  • Take puppy outside to relieve first thing in the morning when it wakes up.
    This is one of the most important times to go out. A guaranteed opportunity to show your puppy where you want it to “go”.
  • Puppy should be taken outside after every feeding.
    This is important because puppy’s digestive system wants to make room for new food in their tummy. Feed the puppy measured amounts several times a day. If you know what’s going in, you know what’s coming out.
  • Continue to take puppy out after each watering.
    Fresh water is very important and should be available all the time. If the puppy is inclined to knock over the water dish or ‘tank’ up on water, it may be necessary to provide fresh water and then pick up the bowl between watering.
  • Exercise is an important part of stimulating a puppy to ‘relieve’ when house training.
    Motion and movement either through playtime of by going for a walk will help stimulate the urge to relieve. Play with your puppy! If you are going to play with the puppy running around indoors, it would be a good idea to let the puppy relieve outside first to avoid stimulating the bladder indoors and having an accident.
  • Keeping the puppy in a crate or “Canine Cave” with regular trips outside will drastically shape the puppy’s potty pattern. (Crate Training)
    Dogs & puppies have a natural ‘Den Instinct’ which causes them to feel safe and relaxed when utilizing a cozy space of their own. Most puppies will not want to relieve in their immediate area, so stay alert and honor your dog’s signals when it indicates the need to go out.
  • Calmly praise the puppy when it does it’s business in the appropriate area.
    Continue to practice these steps and you will have a fully house trained dog in no time. Remember, puppies are babies so be patient with them. If you find a spot indoors ‘after-the-fact’, it is not beneficial to scold the puppy or rub their nose in the spot. The puppy’s perception from that kind of event is that you are someone to be avoided. If you do see the puppy in the act of relieving, you could say “Hey!” to interrupt them and then take them immediately outside to their potty spot. The key is to not let the puppy have access to areas which are unsupervised until it has shown better bladder control.

Tip: Puppies can hold their bladder their age (in months) + 1 = total hours

Relieving is a fundamental need that your puppy has and they look to you to provide the opportunities to go outside. Going for a walk is one of the healthy benefits of having a dog so enjoy your outings with your puppy and make them fun. We all feel better after a bathroom break. Pick up after your puppy so the areas stay clean and ready for next time.

How long does it take to potty train a pup?

With consistent outings, this pattern can usually be established withing 4-6 weeks or sooner.

October 4th, 2017|Dog Behavior, Dog Training|