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Get your puppy to go potty outside with a regular routine using a crate, a timer and positive rewards and prevent future potty accidents inside your house.

Why You Should Use Crate Training to Potty Train Your Puppy

A crate is one of the best tools for potty training, because dogs instinctively try to avoid eliminating in a confined space.

Being in a crate, or “crate training,” teaches them to “hold it” for longer. Free-roaming puppies with access to pee pads laid on the floor do not learn to hold themselves until they go outside.

The main benefit of puppy potty training with a crate is that you can use the crate whenever you can’t watch your puppy—while in the shower or on a quick errand.

How to Condition Your Dog to Understand Yes and No Feedback

Before you start conditioning your dog to learn when and where to potty outside, they must understand YES and NO (what gets rewarded and what doesn’t).

Give your dog constant feedback as dogs need feedback just like humans do!

Every time your dog is doing something well, provide feedback such as “good girl” and give them a food reward and or affection. Build up the conditioning so they understand praise and are consistent in their response every time.

You can get your puppy to go potty outside with positive feedback, a crate and a bell. And, of course, some patient practice. You’ll wonder why you didn’t try this approach sooner!

How to Use A Crate for Potty Training

Crate accidents are usually the result of the crate size being too large or crating without first offering a potty break. After eating, drinking, mental stimulation and play time, your puppy needs an opportunity to eliminate before going in the crate.

Small puppy enjoying some crate time while potty training.

Chart Your Puppy’s Potty Routine

Feed your puppy at set times each day, charting how long after the meal your puppy eliminates. Once your puppy is in a routine, accident prevention is much easier. Post your chart in a central area so all family members remember to keep it updated.

Your puppy will typically need a potty break immediately after each nap or in the middle of play sessions. Set your timer and mark that chart!

Handling Your Pup’s Potty Accidents with Kindness

Never punish. You’ll be teaching your dog not to eliminate in front of you, which definitely won’t work out well for you! Do not scold, strike, yell, rub its nose in it, startle them or in any way over-react. Punishing a puppy for accidents leads to a habit of eliminating in places such as behind a door, or under a bed.

Stay calm and don’t express your displeasure. You want to get your puppy to go potty outside without extra stress. A relaxed and confident pup will eliminate right in front of you. Potty training success is all about positively reinforcing the desired behaviour—so reward, reward, reward.

Empower Your Dog to Tell You When It Needs to Go Potty

Using a bell to get your puppy to go potty outside is a rewarding and confidence-boosting way to train your dog. Bells can be found at any pet store or an online store like Amazon.

When is the best time to start training to ring the bell to be let outside to potty? When your dog understands to go outside and not potty on pee pads. The benefit of teaching your dog to ring the bell is to communicate with you and stop them from waiting by the door in silence or barking and scratching on the door.

How to Train Your Puppy to “Ring the Bell” to Go Potty Outside

Short frequent 10-20 minute sessions 3 times per day is ideal. Make them short and effective so the sessions aren’t too long and frustrating. If your dog isn’t engaged, take a break, and always go back to the last successful place. If they are refusing to participate in the new training, end the training session by asking them something that they know well like “sit” or “touch”. Always end on a positive note.

Pick a potty spot outside in the same place each and every time. Remember, ringing the bell is only to go potty outside, and should not be used for a walk or adventures. Always take them to the potty place yourself, don’t just tell them to go there.

In the initial training phase, always put the bell away when you’re not practicing with it.

Close-up of puppy with potty training bells.

Ringing the Bell to Go Potty Outside – Step-by-Step:

  1. To begin, show your dog the bell, hang it on your door. If they touch it with their nose or paw mark with “YES” and give them a treat. Once they’re touching their nose to the bell every time you show it to them, move onto step 2
  2. Hang the bell by the regular door or on the door handle that you want your dog to use to go outside every time. Show your dog the bell and give them a treat when they ring it. Once they’re ringing the bell by the door each time you point to it, go on to the next step.
  3. With your bell on the door, let them watch you as you place a treat outside the door. Close the door and then point to the bell. When they ring the bell, open the door and let them out to get the treat. Praise them after every time with “YES” and affection. Once they ring the bell right away when you place a treat outside, go on to the next step. Leave the bell in place on the door.
  4. Next time you think they have to go potty, go with them to the door and point to the bell. When they ring it, open the door and let them potty. Reward them with a treat when they finish going potty. Each time you let them out to potty, ask them to ring the bell first, and give them a treat when they finish.
  5. Leave the bell on the door and when they ring it let them outside to potty. If they start to play or dawdle outside, bring them in. It is just for potty breaks.
  6. Proofing the ringing of the bell: To ensure your dog’s success ringing the bell, step through the door and if your dog follows you, step back inside to prompt your dog to ring the bell first, to indicate they want to go outside.

Carey Bolduc

Carey BolducCarey Bolduc is our amazing Operations Manager and Head Trainer. An Accredited Petsmart trainer and specialist in board-and-train, she has trained hundreds of dogs. Carey’s training talents go far beyond the basics—and her trademark expertise in human/canine interaction and learning always at the heart of every training session. You will find Carey to be a fun-loving and supportive trainer, ready to coach owners as well as their pups.

Published by Carey Bolduc

Carey Bolduc is our amazing Operations Manager and Head Trainer. An Accredited Petsmart trainer and specialist in board-and-train, she has trained hundreds of dogs. Carey’s training talents go far beyond the basics—and her trademark expertise in human/canine interaction and learning always at the heart of every training session. You will find Carey to be a fun-loving and supportive trainer, ready to coach owners as well as their pups.

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