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Potty Training 101

April 06, 20235 min read

Did you just get a puppy or adopt an older dog from the shelter? Are you struggling with teaching your new companion to use the bathroom outside? If so, you have come to the right place. I am about to simplify and make the whole learning process easier for you and your new furry friend. I have fostered over 60 puppies and all of them left my home well on their way to potty training success.

Let’s start by talking about what you can expect from your new puppy or dog in terms of how long they can hold their bladders. Most dogs can hold their bladder for as many months as they are old plus 1. If you have a 6-month-old puppy it could hold its bladder for 7 hours. Once you have hit a year old the dog is capable of holding it for up to 12 hours. When I say they can hold it this long I am talking in terms of a dog who isn’t active and is laying around or in a crate like at night or when you are working. An active dog who is up and running around drinking and eating is not going to be able to hold their bladders that long. So how do we know how long an active dog can hold their bladders? Let me help you figure that out.

I always tell my clients in the first few days or weeks with your new puppy or older dog keep a journal of every time they used the restroom either inside or out. This will help you try to establish a pattern and figure out what your active dogs bathroom habits look like. I thrive on a routine and schedule and my dogs and children do as well. So, when we think potty training start setting up a routine and schedule to follow. This means setting a schedule for food and water as well. If a dog is allowed to free feed and drink water whenever they want, they will pee and poop with no rhyme or reason because they have constant access to the source. I set my dogs on a twice a day schedule for food and water every 2 to 3 hours except when they are crated. I always check the requirements of each dog with how much water they should have based upon their weight and activity level. Check with your vet if you are unsure of what amount of water is acceptable for your dog to have throughout the day. After any vigorous activity make sure to offer your dog water. It is important to start taking the dog outside within 15 minutes of either eating or drinking especially in the beginning. I will take them out on a leash to the same spot in my yard every single time. I do this because I want them to use the same area of my yard and that part begins to smell like a restroom which is a huge beacon to your dog that says “GO POTTY HERE”. If the dog does not use the restroom during that time, I bring them back in and crate them and try again in another 15 minutes and repeat until the dog has used the restroom. Once the dog has gone potty, I will allow free time in the house.

The crate is an important part of your training for potty training. I use a crate that is close to the size of the dog. The right sized crate allows the dog to stand, lay down and turn around comfortably. I do not use any type of bedding or towels in the crate when I beginning potty training. The reason why is because the towels or bedding will soak up any urine or poop allowing the dog to not lay in its own waste. If they potty in their crates I do not want them to be comfortable. I want them to not enjoy so it is a deterrent from using the

crate as a restroom. I use the crate when I can’t have my eyes on my new puppy or dog. The only way you can prevent unwanted accidents in your home is to have your eyes on

the dog when they have free roam of your house. I hear a lot from clients my dog will be playing and just stops and looks at me and pees. This is actually pretty normal in the process of potty training. Just like a young 3-year-old child who is engrossed in playing with their

friends will totally forget they have to potty until it is to late. To stop this behavior, I will interrupt the dog about 20 minutes into playing and lead them outside to the spot I want them to use to pee. We are setting the dog up for success by not allowing them to wait till it’s too late.

So, what happens if your dog does potty inside? I want you to listen carefully there are a lot of old techniques.

A common question I receive daily is what do I do if I am going to be gone more than the time my dog will hold his bladder?  I still use a crate but a larger one for this purpose only, I will set the crate up like normal and use a divider of some sort in the middle of the crate. I generally use a piece of cardboard tie wrapped in the middle with a dog door cut out of the center. I will then put puppy pads on one side of the divider and the other side is where the dog can sleep. I am creating a separation in their space that says sleep here and potty here. This will help them to learn to not use the restroom where they are sleeping. The potty pads usually have an attractant smell to entice the dogs to go on them. Plus they make for an easier clean up.

The most important thing in any type of training is patience, practice and consistency. If you follow the steps, I have outlined you and your new furry companion should be well on your way to potty training success.

This blog was written by REC trainer, Brandi McKnight and originally posted on January 21, 2019. For additional questions about potty training, feel free to reach out to Venture Dog Training at


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