4 Must-haves to Make Potty Training Your New Dog Easier
Step 15 of 16 in the Dogly Puppy Channel
with Ayelet Berger of SabraDogTraining, Training Advocate

Let's talk about potty training your puppy and setting up your space with the essential supplies you'll need to help make potty training a success for you and your puppy.

For dog owners (or fosters!) getting ready to bring home a new dog who happens to need house-training, the first thing you'll need to set you and your puppy up for potty training success is to have the right tools on hand.

Remember, whether you're training a young puppy or an adult dog, your goal is to potty train your dog with as many successes of the desired behavior to celebrate along the way as possible. Here are four things I've found to make the house-training process so much easier for you and your new puppy using positive reinforcement...

4 things you need to help make your puppy a potty-trained star

What you'll need when potty training a puppy and why, and how to make these essentials work for you during the learning process of training a puppy...


1) Gates, crates & playpens: create a contained space to limit your pup's options to only good choices.

Before you bring your puppy home, audit your living space for how you'll want to create comfortable, changeable spaces for your dog with a quick route to your outside door. You'll want to set up a designated space where your dog will have plenty of room to play and stretch out - and you (or another family member) can keep an eye on him or her during the training process period.

Choose flexible equipment to create the space that works for you and your puppy

Baby gates and expandable playpens or ex-pens are useful for creating the size space that works for your dog and your home life. Then you'll also be able to use a crate for crate training within that space with the door open to allow your puppy freedom - but not too much - beyond the crate.

What is "plenty of room?"

If your space is too big, your puppy can find space to toilet indoors. Dogs don't like to pee and then rest or sleep on top of it so will naturally seek out a spot in some distant corner if given too much space to wander.

Using baby gates, playpens, and/or a crate, you'll be able to create a space to keep your puppy safe and take away temptation to have an accident. A crate is going to be your friend and training tool. You'll want a crate with enough room for your dog to stand up and feel comfortable, and you'll probably want a divider so the crate space can grow as your young dog or puppy grows.

Important note on using crates and crate training: you never want to put your dog in a crate longer than he or she can handle.

2) Arm yourself with an enzymatic cleaner and a black light: keep an accident from becoming a go-to spot!

At the risk of sounding a bit obsessive, if your puppy has had an accident in the house (it happens!), put a black light to work for you. It's very helpful in being sure you've thoroughly removed any wisp of scent that might remain.

Dogs' sense of smell is exponentially stronger than ours, so what seems fine and scentless to us can be a draw to your dog's nose to a now-familiar, favorite spot for repeat offenses.

Try this

First, clean up the accident with an enzymatic cleaner to remove everything completely on a molecular level (vs a surface cleaning & masking with traditional cleaners). I like the all-natural Unique Pet Care enzymatic cleaner that eliminates the pheromones that can attract your dog to the same spot again and again.

Note: If you have carpet, you'll want to let it soak all the way down for a thorough job. Puppies particularly like to pee on something absorbent like rugs, so some people find it easier to pick up rugs during training.

Once you've cleaned, that's where your black light comes in. Turn out other lights at night and let the black light reveal anything you might have missed. If near a wall or anything raised, be sure to shine the light upward as well to spot any random spraying remnants.

Then repeat your cleaning where the black light has shown a target spot. It's easy and oddly satisfying to know it's truly clean - and you're saving your pup from the temptation of being drawn in for a return visit!


3) Stock up on special, potty-training designated treats: make your success celebrations memorable.

The point of all you're doing with positive reinforcement potty training is to set your puppy up for success. When those successes happen, you want to celebrate them for the big deal they are, so your puppy clearly knows what to do and really wants to keep those successes coming!

Choose a high-value treat (or a couple to rotate) that you keep as special and designated for potty training only. You want these treats to be a coveted reward for your dog to make every success memorable and motivate your puppy to want to repeat.

"High value" means super desirable and hugely valued by your dog. Your dog is the judge of what's high value. Most dogs will tell you that means something smelly in a good way, usually a high-protein-sourced treat. A few favorites that are also full of nutrients: soft & chewy cricket jerky treats and beef heart jerky (dehydrated, all beef heart, breakable into bite-size).

In addition to a treatfest immediately after each successful potty break (the exact moment of success), praise your puppy profusely, then let him or her run and play if you have an enclosed area or do whatever else makes your dog happy!


4) Get a harness and leash for your outside potty breaks.

During puppy potty training especially (young puppies aren't physically able to wait as long) you'll be making more frequent trips outside for potty breaks. Since all dogs - and again especially puppies - can be wildly curious about the smells, sights, squirrels etc. outdoors, you'll want to keep your puppy focused by walking out on a leash. Then once the mission is accomplished, you can celebrate with all your treats, praise, and some free off-leash sniffing and run-around time if you have a fenced-in area.

You'll want to have a proper leash (NO retractable leashes ever - dangerous for everyone, especially your dog, and ineffective for training). Just be sure the weight of your leash and its hardware matches your dog's size and doesn't weigh down your pup.

A Y-shaped harness is also best whenever you're using a leash, evenly distributing any pull so there's never any pressure on your dog's neck and providing safety for your dog once you begin to venture out beyond your property.

Learn how to set up your space effectively and use positive reinforcement techniques for successful puppy potty training.

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Next up in the Puppy Channel on Dogly

With the right tools, you're all set now to start potty training a puppy and set your new dog up to successfully embrace the house-training process. Learning to potty train a puppy or older dog is more than just responsible dog ownership, it's an opportunity to lay a solid, positive foundation for building your communication and bond with your dog from the very beginning.

Any questions on any or all of this, just ask away in the Community discussion in Dogly's Puppy Channel here. And you'll be on your way to celebrating with your happily and fully house-trained dog!

Or if you need more personalized training, get started with your puppy's training plan here.

Ayelet Berger of SabraDogTraining

Training Advocate
Dogly loves Ayelet because she grew from rescue volunteer to one of Nashville’s only Certified Professional Trainers.

Ayelet guides you

Anxiety - Kids & Dogs - Puppies - New Dogs - Reactivity - Dog Body Language

Ayelet is certified

Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed - Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner - Family Paws Licensed Presenter - Fear Free Trainer