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Individuals and families have been adopting puppies and dogs more than ever before and many are finding themselves potty training a dog for the very first time. Great News: potty training a dog, or a puppy, is generally much easier than potty training humans… so if you’ve already done that then you’re ahead of the game.

When potty training a dog the thing to keys are the “Four C’s For Success!” with the “Four C’s” being Consistency, Correction, Congratulations, and Cookies. While studying the “Four C’s,” further explained below, remember to remain patient and give yourself and your fur-kid grace because no person or pup is perfect!


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The First “C” of potty training a dog is CONSISTENCY. For ultimate success, set your potty training plan before you even bring your new four-legged family member home and stick to it! No matter if you plan to begin with absorbent training pads indoors or have a dedicated yard space where you plan to start, commit to using it throughout training.

daily-mom-parent-portal-Potty Training A Dog: Beginners Guide
READ MORE: New Puppy Checklist

You must also be reliable with the timing of potty breaks, going no more than two hours between, though puppies will typically need to go much more often at first. In addition to these scheduled potty breaks, they should always be given an opportunity to relieve themselves directly after waking, playing, eating, and drinking. Finally, every time you bring your dog to their designated potty spot, use the same verbal cue. Truly, it doesn’t matter what that verbal cue is (go potty, potty time, relieve oneself, alakaza…) as long as it is always the same!


The Second “C” of the “Four C’s For Success” is CORRECTION. Correcting unwanted behavior in a positive way while potty training a dog is probably the most challenging of all the steps. In order to make sure you’re consistently catching accidents is to have your eyes on the pup at all times. It is important to take them directly to their potty spot when you witness an accident in progress. While doing this, never punish the dog, either during or post mess. While it is incredibly frustrating to have to clean up after a dog in training, negative experiences related to relieving themselves will only set them back further.

Obviously, it would be ideal to avoid accidents altogether, right? The very best way to do this is to watch them for signs they need to go. Some common signs include barking and/or scratching in an attempt to get to their potty spot, sniffing and/or circling or squatting. As you get to know your pet, you will begin recognizing their particular “potty tells.” The very moment you see any of these signs, get them to their bathroom spot immediately. Finally, do not forget to follow these steps for correction consistently as you go.


CONGRATULATIONS is the Third “C” of potty training a dog and also what you deserve for making it this far, give yourself a round of applause and then read on. Now, imagine your pup just went potty in their designated spot. It does not matter if they went there on their own or you plopped them there mid-pee, they get a celebration. Every and any time your dog uses their potty spot properly, you need to act like they were just accepted to college, won an Olympic Gold Medal AND developed a life saving vaccine.

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This might sound ridiculous and you might get some odd looks from your neighbors, but joyous praise from you is the very best motivation for your pup to keep up the good work. Dogs might not understand much English but they absolutely recognize excitement and pride in your voice. Lots of pats and pets and smiles should be met with a prideful wagging tail and maybe some sloppy face kisses if you’re into that. This is the fun part of potty training a dog, so really just go all out!


The Final “C” of the potty training a dog “Four C’s of Success” is COOKIES! That is, the yummy and special treat you offer your dog, during or after the previous “C,” Congratulations. This treat does not have to be a doggy cookie or biscuit, just something they enjoy the most. There are endless options available for positive pup reinforcement, including small “training treats,” bits of healthy “human” food like pieces of carrot or apple or whatever your particular dog covets the most. While you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself a cookie too, you’ve followed the “Four C’s of Success” for potty training a dog and you deserve it!

READ MORE: Treat yourself to one of these Cookie Recipes
daily-mom-parent-portal-Potty Training A Dog: Beginners Guide

Potty training a dog is truly no easy task but with patience, dedication, and the “Four C’s For Success,” your dog should be a professional at using its designated potty spot in no time. Each day should get a bit easier for you and the dog, with fewer messes to clean up along the way.


Don’t let yourself get too discouraged if you seem to be hitting a wall or backsliding, take a deep breath (but maybe wait until everything is cleaned up first) and remind yourself that messes are part of the process. When it comes to potty training a dog, there will be accidents, there might be tears, but the love and companionship with which you will be repaid for years and years to come is more than worth all the hard work.

If you have been consistent, using positive correction, congratulating, and dishing out cookies left and right but your dog is still having accidents, there might be some invisible barriers to their success. Some common issues you may run into can be a urinary tract infection, over-hydration (particularly common in puppies who think slurping water is just too much fun), worms or other tummy troubles, or some behavioral factors like an overly excitable or nervous bladder. In any case, the best way to sort out any lingering potty problem that might require medical intervention is to consult your dog’s veterinarian and follow their professional advice.

Check out this article on the Six Best Dogs for Kids and Families.

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