Transitioning House Training with Your New Puppy

Bringing your puppy to their new home can be an exciting and sometimes a stressful experience. However, one of the biggest challenges our clients face is maintaining their puppy’s house training during this big transition. Fear not! We will walk you through everything you need to know to help your new family member adjust to their new environment while staying on track with their house training. By practicing patience, consistency, and love, you and your new furry friend will come out on the other side with a strong foundation in your new home.

Preparing for your Puppies Arrival

Prior to the arrival of your puppy, it is important to prepare a schedule. Consistency is key when it comes to house training, especially during a big change. By creating a schedule, you can ensure that everyone in the home remains on the same page and provides your puppy with the structure needed to succeed. The schedule should include feeding and watering times, free time in the home, times for crating during the day, potty breaks, and sleeping arrangements. Once you have established your schedule, the next step is to designate a safe area of your home where your puppy can be monitored and have access to an exterior door. Your puppy should have limited free time and space in your home until they have transitioned reliably to house training. It is also important to establish an outdoor potty area for your puppy. This should be a specific spot where you want them to do their business every time. Take your puppy to this spot every time you take them out to potty and give lots of praise for successful bathroom breaks.

Your Pups Transition

It is not uncommon for a trained puppy to experience some setbacks in their house training when transitioning to a new home. Changes in the environment, schedule, climate, and overall acclimation time for your pup are all factors that can contribute to accidents in the beginning. Although it may be frustrating, your pup will quickly adapt to their new home. The age of your pup will determine the schedule and frequency of necessary potty breaks.

The average amount of time that your pup can hold their potty per training level as follows:

  • Puppy Academy – 1 Hour
  • Canine College – 2 Hours
  • Masters Program – 3 Hours
  • Doggy Doctorate + – 4 Hours

However this is their expected training goals while at our facility, when transitioned to their new home there will be slight regression. Due to this, we recommend reducing the time between potty breaks slightly during their initial 2-4 weeks in their new home.

When does My Pup need to Potty

Once you have established a schedule for your puppy to eat, sleep, and go outside to potty, timing is crucial. As soon as your puppy wakes up, they should be taken out to potty, and you should expect them to both urinate and defecate. Following the first potty break, your pup can be returned to the crate where they will be offered food and water. Typically, your puppy will need to go potty again within 30-60 minutes. If your puppy is younger, they may need to go potty sooner following their morning meal. Consistency is key, and your puppy will quickly adapt to the schedule. Eventually, you will notice that their need for bathroom breaks becomes more predictable and less frequent. Establishing this schedule will create a foundation for clear communication between you and your puppy regarding Potty Time.

How do I get My Pup to Potty Outside

This is perhaps the biggest challenge that clients face when transitioning to their new home. During their time at our facility, their pup is used to going outdoors to potty in a fenced yard with an artificial grass surface. We use the phrase “Go Potty” to encourage the pups to relieve themselves outdoors. The potty yard we use is smaller in size to encourage more focus during potty breaks. We discourage playtime and continue to refocus the pup until the desired behavior of pottying is achieved.

To encourage your pup to potty outdoors, take them out at the appropriate time, bring them to the designated area in the yard for “pottying,” place them in the area, and wait. If your pup is easily distracted, or if you do not have a fenced yard, we highly recommend using a puppy playpen to section off a space where you can give your pup the freedom to sniff, move around, and potty.

Leash training is a significant part of our obedience training, but we do not encourage your pup to potty while on a leash. If you do not have a fenced yard or an area designated for potty breaks, this can present a problem, but we have a solution! Avoid using your pup’s training lead when taking them out to potty, as this can confuse them since they are trained not to pull or get distracted while on a leash. We also recommend allowing your pup to potty before any structured walk. Walks are intended to provide your pup with mental and physical stimulation, as well as to continue building structure and understanding in your new relationship.

For pottying outdoors on leash without a fenced yard, we recommend utilizing a “Long Training Line” to give your pup the space and freedom to potty without feeling like they may get corrected on the training lead.

What if my Pup doesn’t “Go” when Outside

It is important to remember that consistency and patience are key. Make sure that you are taking your puppy outside frequently and at the same time per your schedule. The ever changing sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors can present a difficult distraction for your puppy, especially when paired with a big transition and new environment. Refocusing and encouraging your pup to stay on task is recommended, we also do not want to waste a large amount of time on potty breaks. Potty breaks should last no more that 5-10 minutes. If during the allotted time, your puppy isn’t pottying, it is very important that you do not give freedom in your home. After an unsuccessful time outdoors, your pup should be closely supervised or contained using the crate or the “umbilical method” (explained below). The next potty break should take place 20-30 minutes following the first unsuccessful trip. This process should be repeated until the pup potties in the designated space. 

The umbilical method is a popular house training technique for puppies. It involves using a leash or tether to keep the puppy close to the owner while loose in the home. This allows the owner to watch and respond quickly when the puppy needs to go potty, helping them learn faster and more effectively. By keeping your pup close, you are provided a better opportunity to correct when necessary, and also reward when a behavior is done appropriately. The umbilical method is a great way for owners to get their puppies transitioned quickly and efficiently.

How do I know if My Pup needs to Go Potty

Teaching your puppy to signal when it needs to go potty is an important part of housetraining. In our training program, we teach our pups to present a “passive alert” to notify that they need to go potty. This means that they are trained and encouraged to go to the external door and sit. It does require maintaining a consistent visual on your pup to ensure that their signal is not missed. 

During the transition to your home, it will take your pup a couple of weeks to learn their new environment, as well as a new schedule that includes their potty breaks. For this reason, you should not be relying on your new pup to tell you when they need to go out. Maintain the set schedule for potty breaks, and begin to implement the signal at the door you intend to take your pup out every time. Prior to opening the door to allow your pup out, ask if they need to “Go Potty”, wait for or encourage your puppy to sit, after the puppy has successfully waited for the door to open, give the “Okay” release and take your puppy out.

If you do not have visual access of your exterior door at all times, or find that you may be missing your pups signal, the other recommended method of signaling is “Bell Training”. Bell training requires patience and consistency, but is typically picked up quite quickly by your pup. To start, put the bells on the floor near the door, practice by placing high value food around the bells so that the pup learns that touching the bells with their nose provides reward and subsequently makes the sound. After the pup is comfortable with the bells and nosing around them, the next step is to hang a bell near the door that your pup uses when they need to go outside. Whenever you take your pup out, make sure that you encourage your pup to touch or ring the bell before opening the door and then reward them with praise or treats once they have gone potty outside.

What if My Pup has an Accident in the House

If you notice a mess after it has happened, you are not supervising closely enough. Every accident that your pup has in your home without being corrected begins to teach your pup that it’s okay to potty in your home. You cannot correct your pup if you find an accident after the fact, they will not understand why or what they are being corrected for.

Watch for any tell tell signs that your pup needs to go potty. The signs for each pup may differ slightly, some will start pacing or showing signs of visible stress, other signs are sniffing, squatting, circling or tail out straight. If you see any of these behaviors, take the dog out immediately.
If the dog begins to potty inside, immediately interrupt by clapping and saying “Ah ah!” in a very loud or firm voice to interrupt the potty. Get the dog outside as soon as possible (carry him whenever possible and put the leash on the dog as you head to the door). Accompany your pup outside so as to reward for completing the potty in the desired area; simply letting the pup out and shutting the door is not enough.