Potty Training and Other Tips


Getting a puppy is a very exciting, joyful time!  However, it is important to have real expectations as you move forward.  Puppies bring so much joy to those who are ready and committed, but puppies can be a burden if you are not ready or prepared.  It is always best to have the mindset of having a young toddler in your home for your first few weeks with your new addition, then it gets easier from there! 

So, what about potty training?

With so much information on the internet, you can really get confused and stressed.  Common sense seems to work best; put yourself in your puppy’s paws: what would work best for you in this situation?  We really like the “1, 2, 3 rule”.

  1. The first week, take Fido out every hour during the day and give him a chance to go.  Use “outside” or “potty” or whatever word you choose, but use it a lot.  If he goes, give a treat immediately and take him to the exact same spot next time.  Never leave him alone in the crate for more than an hour.  But it is important that he is in the crate for 10 – 15 minutes at a time every hour or two. When in the crate, take it with you everywhere this first week! We like plastic travel crates because they can go with you wherever you go in the house (Which is important so he does not start to think the crate is a prison.)  Keep the crate small (imagine yourself in a queen size bed) so he does not potty in one corner then try to sleep in the other.  Keep the crate with you wherever you go when he is in it.  When not in the crate, watch your puppy with 100% attention.  If you come across a potty spot in the carpet, you know you are not watching close enough. Don’t leave for 4 hours and expect him to hold it and just be ok alone in the crate. 
  2. The second week is the same, but outside every two hours,  and no longer than two hours in the crate at a time.  I still would not recommend leaving him home while the whole family is gone at this stage.
  3. You guessed it, outside every 3 hours (or shorter if potty training isn’t going quite as well as you had hoped) and no more than 3 hours alone in the crate.  After the 3rd week, I would say to keep this schedule for a while.  As he reaches 6 months to a year, the goal is to be able to leave him at home for 4 – 5 hours (with full run of the house).  When leaving Fido at home, a light, fan, and soft music/TV is a great idea.  You can start with a playpen, then a room, then hopefully the whole floor, or even the whole house! 

Other Tips:   Leave the crate in the same area with the door open when not in use. (Hopefully Fido starts to go into it to get away, just as a bedroom)

  • If using potty pads, get a little urine scent on the next pad during training so the smell will trigger the next potty, on the pad.
  • Going outside is always the first choice, but if your location or weather makes that impossible, then potty pads sure can work, I would start with more than just one pad though, and make sure you are taking them there frequently.  (You can follow the 1,2,3 rule)   
  • After the first week, if you have only had 3 – 4 accidents, throw a party and celebrate because you are doing great!  If having 3-4 a day, its time to regroup.
  • When people are having issues, thus far it has always been because they are not training properly. These puppies are very much smart enough to be trained.
  • Everyone who has done a “puppy class” has said it was well worth it!

So what about at night?

We do recommend taking your puppy out once in the night to go potty.  Right before bed, then at 2 or 3 am, then first thing in the morning should be safe. Put the crate on your nightstand, facing you.  Please do not put him alone in a corner.  He wont sleep, and neither will you.  Eventually, you can move the crate, and eventually (if you choose)  you can wean him off being able to go potty at night, or just let him have the option to wake you up if he has to go.

What food should I get, and how often should I be feeding?

We have our puppies on “graze feeding”  meaning they can eat as much as they want, whenever.  We highly recommend keeping this schedule for the first couple weeks as your puppy adjust to his new home. These puppies are at risk of Hypoglycemia, and it can take their life.  It’s easy to prevent: make sure your puppy eats 1/4 – 1/2 cup of food a day (more is great) and makes sure he gets 50% percent of his day to rest. Dont have a party the first day; let him adjust slowly to you and your family first.  These puppies are not food motivated, so they will forget to eat if distracted. 

After he is adjusted, you can start with 4x a day all he can eat at that time, then 3x a day.  I would hold off on 2x a day until at least 6- 9 months of age.

We are sending Royal Canin Ministarter, Royal Canin Small Puppy, or a mix of both.  Your next bag of food will be Royal Canin Small Puppy, unless we specify otherwise. We recommend staying with Royal Canin for the first month being with you.  We will not guarantee our puppies if you switch food without our consent before that; as switching foods can lead to many GI problems, causing lack of appetite, hypoglycemia, and in extreme cases, could lead to death. You should not have to supplement with anything if you stay on Royal Canin.  If tear staining is an issue, there is a probiotic I would recommend instead of using an antibiotic.  A puppy probiotic is never a bad thing anyway! 

Is he used to treats, collar, leash? 

The quick answer is no.  Before you go buy expensive treats, they are usually (at least the tasty ones) packed with sugar, salt, and preservatives.  After all, the tastiest treat wins.  I recommend fresh deli turkey or chicken cut into small cubes.  It’s healthier, and actually cheaper.  I just would not give fido a piece off your sandwich, as that would lead to begging for table scraps

As far as a collar, dont get something heavy and please dont “bedazzle” it with silver bones, bells, and all that jazz.  At least not yet.  This is dangerous because of the extra weight but also a strangulation hazard.  Harnesses are fine and even recommended for walks/jogs. Light leashes are best, as well.


Anything that squeaks, is soft, chewy, and is safe. I would maybe stay away from rawhides, hoofs, antlers, etc.  Teething toys are great!

How often should we groom?

As you see fit but usually about every 8 weeks.  I would get a blunt ended trimming scissors to trim around eyes, rectum, and genitalia.  A hair brush with soft tips for weekly/daily brushing is a good idea.  Also, pulling ear canal hair (just one pull a day) will be really beneficial so your puppy does not get a yeast/mite infection and wont hate your groomer for pulling them all at once.  (Get just the hair in the ear canal, not around the ear.)  We use “Fresh ‘N’ Clean puppy shampoo.  Please do not give a bath with shampoo more often than every two weeks as it can dry out the skin.  No need to bathe the day of pick up because we give baths the day they leave. 

When should I spay/neuter?

Our vet and many others recommend waiting until 5 months.  This is also a good time for the Rabies vaccine. Also, be sure to talk to your vet about when to start flea/tick and heartworm prevention plans (usually 16 – 18 weeks of age).

I should buy Dental Chews, right?

Dental chews do help, but brushing teeth with a good enzyme dog toothpaste, even just once a week, is way better!  3-4 times a week is the goal!  I would get Virbac CET Enzymatic toothpaste.  Get the vanilla mint flavor, you will thank me!  Just 30 – 60 seconds on the outside of the teeth alone will be sufficient.  This will keep Fido from having to get his teeth pulled as he gets older.  (He will loose baby teeth and develop adult teeth, so don’t be surprised if you see blood in the mouth in the first year.)  *HINT* – You can start with beef broth our something tasty on your finger to get him used to something in his mouth. 

Hopefully that all helps.  Here is what we are sending along.

  • Blanket and Toy with our scent on it.
  • Pet Key microchip registry information. The chip is inserted for free, you just need to register it to your name, if you like. 
  • Nutrical – If you are afraid your puppy is hypoglycemic, give a dose.  You can give 1 dose every 3 hours to a puppy who is not eating.
  • Royal Canin Food (should be enough for at least a week)
  • Medical Records. Please refer to medical records to see “TO DO”.  There will be at least one or two boosters left that we highly recommend. We will not guarantee your puppy if you let your vet completely revaccinate.

Thank you and enjoy your new addition!    Puppies By Design Online