There is only one acceptable methodology for potty training a dog of any age: positive reinforcement. Traditional advice suggested swatting a dog or rubbing his face in his waste for mistakes in the house, but those techniques do nothing to make the potty training process more understandable for your dog and can actually damage your relationship with him. Keep in mind, dogs don’t view their waste the way we do – to them, pee and poo is pretty interesting! Punishing your dog for going in the house won’t help him understand what he should do instead and might make him afraid to go near you at all, inside or out. Successful potty training requires patience, kindness and remembering that your new puppy is just learning the rules.
There are a lot of different ways to train your dog. You may choose to sign up for a dog training class, hire a professional dog trainer for private lessons, or even send your dog to board with a trainer. However, plenty of people successfully train their dogs on their own. It's a great way to save money on training costs, and a wonderful way to bond with your dog.
A training class is not there to train your dog. Its purpose is to teach you to train your dog so you will need to be committed to train your dog for short sessions (5 minutes) several times a day rather than just simply turn up for classes! This little bit of training everyday will be repaid with a lifetime of living with a well behaved dog. You will also learn to avoid problems before they begin as well as receive help to overcome any that you already have with your dog.
Crate training is a great way to start your puppy off on the right paw. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean, so a properly sized crate, introduced gradually, will create a home base for your puppy and will keep him from having accidents when you can’t watch him. Use the crate when you’re unable to give your puppy your full attention during the day, as well as at nap time and bedtime. Selecting the right size crate is critical, and it should be big enough so that your puppy can comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down but not much bigger. If you opt for a crate that’s too large, your puppy will be able to potty in one corner and sleep comfortably in the other, defeating the purpose of crate training.
Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient dog. Many people try to win their new puppy's love by letting the puppy always have its way. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect.
Just because your new dog is old enough that he should know where to potty doesn’t mean that he actually does. An adult dog has the necessary muscle control to hold it for longer periods of time, but if no one ever taught him the potty training rules then he’s the equivalent of a brand new puppy. Age should not be equated with housetraining prowess, so it’s a good idea to treat any dog new to your home as if he’s still learning the potty training ropes.
Submissive urination is a normal way for your puppy to demonstrate submissive behavior. Even a dog that is otherwise housetrained may leave dribbles and puddles of urine at your feet when greeting you. Excitement urination with a puppy is usually caused by lack of bladder control. The puppy is not aware that he is urinating; he's just excited and any punishment will only confuse him.
Crate training is a great way to start your puppy off on the right paw. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean, so a properly sized crate, introduced gradually, will create a home base for your puppy and will keep him from having accidents when you can’t watch him. Use the crate when you’re unable to give your puppy your full attention during the day, as well as at nap time and bedtime. Selecting the right size crate is critical, and it should be big enough so that your puppy can comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down but not much bigger. If you opt for a crate that’s too large, your puppy will be able to potty in one corner and sleep comfortably in the other, defeating the purpose of crate training.

Sometimes, despite all of your hard work, your puppy might slip up and eliminate in the house. If you catch him in the act, make an abrupt noise to stop him then quickly bring him outside and give him a reward for finishing in the right spot (it’s okay if you take him out and he doesn’t go). Don’t punish your dog for the accident; simply clean it up with an appropriate odor eliminator and vow to watch him more diligently in the future.
Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.
Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email the GCDS Team ([email protected]) or call 0207 518 1011.
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