Where? I have a yard. 

Where would you like your dog to do their business? Choose an area outside (yes, even if you adopted your puppy in the winter!) and every time you go outside, you’re going to go directly there, puppy on leash, place your puppy in that spot and give your cue in a calm, gentle voice. Lengthen the leash so that they have space, and be patient. Sniffing and circling are normal – let them do it!

Some ideas for cues are “hurry up”, “be quick”, “go pee/go poo”, “finish up”, etc. 

Ideally, your dog will grow up to be comfortable pottying in your yard or neighbourhood AND pottying in other neighbourhoods and novel places too. It’s never fun to have a dog who will hold it until they’re home when you’re on a three day road-trip. 

What if my puppy has an accident? 

Roll up a newspaper, and smack yourself on the head, promising not to let it happen again!

But seriously, think about the word “accident”. Defined as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” How can this be punished in a just born creature? It cannot be punished and it must not be. If we punish our dog for doing their business in a place we don’t want them doing it, the dog does not understand that it’s the geographical location that is the problem; they become increasingly anxious about doing their business in front of you and over time they might even stop doing it in your presence (like on a walk or in the yard). Instead, they hide various places in the home to do it, or they even eat their own stool as a way to hide it from you and avoid the punishment.

If your puppy has an accident while you are watching, say “uh oh!!” in an urgent tone, pick them up (they will stop going temporarily) and get them outside fast. Once you put them down, they will finish and you can reward them.

If your puppy has an accident and you find it after the fact, don’t even make a peep. Simply clean it up with a pet enzyme cleaner (do not use regular household cleaners!) and promise to watch more closely next time.

What if my puppy does their business in the yard without me? 

Well, not to worry! This isn’t going to happen! Your puppy should not be in your yard unsupervised until you can trust them, which will likely be closer to 5 months of age, and by then, they’ll be potty trained!

Go outside with your puppy every time so that you can provide the happy party and rewards every single time. Every. Single. Time. Trust me on this one. If you try to send them out alone, they will get distracted by leaves, dirt, rocks, squirrels, air, you name it. They will forget to potty and then come back in only to do it on your expensive rug.

Another reason to always go outside with them is because you’ll want to designate one area in your yard for this purpose – otherwise you’ll have the dog who goes everywhere and anywhere in your yard, and picking up poop is a task and a half! That, or no one will want to walk through your yard in the summertime at your famous annual barbecue. If you do not go with them, they will go wherever they want, but after a few months of going out with them every time, they will know that this area is specifically for this task and will go there indefinitely.

How will my puppy know this area is their potty?

Consider clearly marking the area (excuse the pun) with dollar store fencing on 3 sides or some other type of visual cue. You’ll want this area to be convenient for you to pick up after them, easy for them to get to quickly, accessible in all weather, and if your dog is a Sensitive Sally or Stuart in rain or snow, some type of shelter might be appreciated to keep them successful on crummy weather days.