How to Potty Train a Dog

We all have to house train our dogs. House training takes patience, consistency, and good habits, and the use of positive reinforcement training. With realistic expectations and sticking to a schedule, we can help dogs gain bladder control, and teach them appropriate elimination habits. With some knowledge, a plan and a can-do attitude, we can reduce the drudgery of potty training, decrease accidents and help our dogs become more reliable with where and when they “take care of business”. We can help you re-establish your bond with your dog, no matter how long you have been cleaning up messes inside.

  • Please note: The material in this course is geared towards healthy, adult dogs who are not house-trained. Potty training for puppies will be addressed in an upcoming course.

How to Potty Train A Dog

Like so many of us, dog trainer and course instructor, Kristi Benson has had her share of potty training woes, thanks to her greyhound husky cross, Sitka. By being tricky to house train, Sitka taught Kristi about the level of dedication needed to wade through this plan and come out on the other side, with a house-trained dog. Sitka also showed Kristi how important it is to be purposefully empathetic with both dogs and their humans, when house training isn’t going well.

Let’s Get Started!

Kristi is the instructor for another one of our courses,  Pestering Pooches, and you can learn more about her at the bottom of this page.

Linda Green

Linda Green – Founder, Owner-Operator Unidos Para Los Animales

How to Potty Train Your Dog is the fastest, most user-friendly and effective program I have ever used for ending potty mess-stakes. Followed to the letter, owners can move from frustration to freedom with their dogs in only three weeks, which is a a very short time to ensure years of clean carpets. Kristi makes makes house training a game for the humans and rewarding for the dog; a win-win for all! – Linda Green

Potty Training Tips for Dogs

Learning how to potty train a dog comes down to a few things:

  1. Commitment-from you! Teaching your dog the right habits is about committing to setting an appropriate schedule and sticking to it. Think about it this way: if your dog is used to just letting loose whenever, wherever, you can’t expect her to suddenly change her ways because you said so. You’ve got to put in some time and effort (and we promise to make this as easy and fun for YOU as possible).
  2. Patience-again, from you! As much as we hate to say it, successful potty training is as much about you as it is your dog. You’ll need to be prepared to dole out rewards to your dog each and every time she eliminates in the correct spot while going through the training process. You’ll also need to be prepared to fix any mistakes you make during the process. Remember, they aren’t called “accidents” by mistake. We also promise to help you maintain your patience and minimize mistakes as much as possible!
  3. Sticking to a plan-If you wanna know how to potty train a dog fast, sticking to a plan is key! We’ve set things up so that over the course of just a few weeks, your house training efforts will pay off for the rest of your life with your dog. We know 3 weeks sounds like an eternity, but we’ve set things up so you can avoid any more accidents right away. And those 3 weeks will be a distant memory very quickly-if you stick with the plan.

FAQs about House Training

1.) How long will this program take?
If you follow the instructions in this course to the letter (and we do everything we can to make it easy on you!), you’ll probably have a house-trained dog in three weeks. For every week you stray from the plan, you will likely add another week to the time between you and a house-trained dog.
2.) What can I do in the meantime?
If you are following the plan, you should have no more messes inside as soon as you start the training. If you can’t start the training yet and are just preparing, you can try taking your dog out more often, blocking them into a room with a more washable floor, taking them to daycare, leaving them in car if temperatures are safe, or otherwise switching things up.
3.) Do I need to buy anything special?
Yes, we recommend you buy a few items to make the training easier. This is covered in the course itself.
4.) My dog isn’t crate trained. Can I still do this?
If your dog isn’t crate trained but is neutral about their crate, we recommend you do the crate training first. We have a crate-training hand-out for you in the lessons in Level One. If your dog is crate-phobic and you are home all or most of the time, you can try the course with the dog leashed to you. If you can’t provide full-time active supervision in the home for three weeks, you’ll need to buckle down and crate train first. Crates are a key, if temporary, part of house-training.
5.) Can I train my dog to use wee wee pads while training her to go outside?
We recommend sticking with a plan that promotes elimination outdoors consistently. By introducing other options, we run the risk of confusing dogs and mucking up the process.
6.) Why does my dog go to another room to potty? I think she knows she isn’t supposed to go inside and feels guilty.
When dogs are punished for eliminating in the wrong location, they can become shy about pottying in front of you. It’s much more likely that your dog’s body language is conveying fear of getting yelled at, hit or punished in some way, rather than a feeling of guilt.
7.) My dog was house trained in the past, but is suddenly going in the house again. What should I do?
Sudden changes in pottying habits warrant a visit to your veterinarian.
8.) What’s a good potty training schedule for my dog?
This will vary from dog to dog, but when getting started, we recommend a schedule that allows for potty breaks every 4-8 hours (this helps build bladder muscles), with close supervision and/or confinement in between. Puppies need a different approach, and should be taken out much more frequently due to their tiny bladders. This course is aimed at dogs who are 6 months and older.
9.) What makes this course different from anything else I have tried?
When working on something as important as house training, being systematic is crucial. We’ll take the guesswork out of the process and help you stick with it for the long haul. The plan takes place over 3 weeks (Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks!) and if you stick with it, you should have a house trained dog at the end. If you fall off the wagon, you’ll have some time to make up for, but you can get there! Joining others in the discussion forums will help keep you motivated and accountable to others, plus you’ll get to share your successes and setbacks and get support and cheerleading as you go.
10.) Can you guarantee that I will have success by using this plan?
We cannot provide guarantees, as when we are working with animals, it is not ethical, nor possible, to guarantee behavior change or results. We can, however, promise you that we will share as much information, offer as much support and troubleshoot as many concerns as possible to help you achieve house training success.

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What’s Included in the Course

Within the course, you’ll find information about what doesn’t work (we’re gonna save you some precious time here! ) and a clear cut path to what does work. We’ll get you all set up with the right tools and information to avoid accidents as soon as you get started.

You’ll learn:

  • Strategies to help you supervise your dog, which will head off any mistakes along the way
  • About the process of positive reinforcement and why it’s so important for your house training efforts
  • How a training plan that gradually eases up on constraints is your best friend
  • How training in a way that is systematic will increase the likelihood of sustainable potty training success
  • How to generalize your dog’s successful potty training to other locations
  • How putting in the time now will pay off for the rest of your dog’s life! Plus, we’ll show you what you need to do if you get off track
  • Some fun extras, like training your dog to ring a bell or potty on cue

About Your Instructor

How to Potty Train A Dog

Kristi Benson is an honors graduate of, and is now on staff at, the prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers, where she earned her Certificate in Training and Counseling (CTC). She is Fear Free Certified, and runs the Academy’s Husbandry Project. Kristi enjoys working with dogs who need help with obedience, fearfulness, aggression, unruliness, or any number of other issues. She also loves helping the humans in the equation, and brings her trademark combination of humour and compassion to the kitchen table when working with her clients.

Kristi also enjoys reaching out to dog owners through writing. She writes regularly on all dog-adjacent topics for her own blog. She also regularly writes for the Academy for Dog Trainers’ blog and for Dog International. Besides offering professional training services in the Parkland region of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada; Kristi also works with clients across Canada via video chat. For ten years, she ran a sled dog micro-rescue with her partner, and fostered, house-trained, obedience-trained, and re-homed numerous racing sled dogs. Kristi still enjoys skijoring (cross-country skiing attached to a dog), dog scootering, and other pulling sports with her Alaskan husky sled dogs. She lives on a small mixed farm in west central Manitoba. Kristi is a Full Member Dog Training Professional # 11632828 in the Pet Professional Guild. She has a BA and MA in Archaeology.

How to Potty Train your Dog: 3 Easy Steps from Mess to Success is coming soon! Get it for 40% off through 4/30/2019 when you use the code LAUNCH at checkout!

A house trained dog is only a few weeks away! 🎉

Get Your Pup House Trained Now!

Be sure to see the other courses we have available.

Course: Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs – Mission Possible
Course: Pestering Pooches – Dogs Jumping on People and Begging for Food at the Dinner Table
Course: It’s Tricky: Learning to Train your Dog with Tricks
Course: Leave It: Help for Leash Reactive Dogs
Course: Nailed It – Course In How to Cut Dog Nails
Course: Pearly Whites: A Course in Pet Dental Care
All courses listed above are on sale for 20% off through 4/16/2019 when you use the code MESS2SUCCESS at checkout.

FREE Course: DOGS 101: A FREE Mini Course for Dog Owners
FREE Course: Where Advocacy & Behavior Meet


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How to Potty Train A Dog
Average rating:  
 2 reviews
by Kristin L. on How to Potty Train A Dog
Great Course

Such a great course and such a good experience for me! Resources page is AMAZING!!!

by Verna on How to Potty Train A Dog
Easy to understand/follow

loved the pictures you included- fun humour!
units are concise and easy to read.
Over all, well laid out and easy to understand/follow