Did you recently adopt a puppy and are gearing up to start training it?
First and foremost– congratulations! This is an exciting adventure you are about to embark on.
A new puppy brings so much joy to your life and the lives of your family and friends. However, if you’re unsure of where to start, it can also be overwhelming and downright confusing.
You may be asking yourself, where do I even start?
Let’s break down the process of transitioning your puppy from the litter box to outside. This is an essential aspect of training a puppy that should occur very early on.
There are several simple steps that will make the transition less stressful for you and your new furry friend. Read on to learn how.
Why you might want to transition outside
Fewer accidents in the house
We all want to avoid them, but it’s bound to happen with your new puppy. This will significantly decrease, if not eliminate, your puppy from having accidents in the house.
Puppies do not yet have good control over their bowels, nor do they know that it’s not appropriate to do their business in the house. This is where you come in! The earlier you start, the better.
A cleaner home
Nobody wants the smell of their puppy’s urine or feces in the house. Say goodbye to that!
Puppies are a lot like having a baby, and as such, they make messes in the house (as well as chew on things that aren’t theirs).
Make the transition outside so that they can start associating this with being the appropriate potty spot.
Outdoor play/bonding time
Transitioning your puppy outside will also allow you to spend precious time with them outdoors (which they love).
Your puppy will begin to associate their new backyard as a safe space to both play and do their business, and you can help facilitate this.
It’s also a great opportunity to bond with your new puppy, which is a bonus. Research shows that it generally takes a few weeks for your puppy to feel “at home” and to express its true nature around you. Playing outside can help initiate this bond.
6 Steps to Help Your Puppy Transition Outside
Invest in a grass litter box or grass sheet. You can get them at most pet supply stores (or online), and it will help them get used to going to the bathroom in grassy areas.
The grass pads are made of artificial grass; however, they look and feel very much like the real thing.
You will want to give your dog some time to become familiar with it and offer treats and praise each time he steps onto the pad.
You’ll also want to supervise your dog each time he wakes up, especially after having a lot of water.
After they eat, drink, play, or have just woken up are the most common times in which your puppy will need to go to the bathroom, so keep this in mind when supervising.
Offer your dog an encouraging phrase such as “go potty” each time he’s on the grass pad and be sure to follow that up with treats and praise each time to cement the desired behavior.
Move the Dog Pad
Slowly move the doggy pad or litter box closer to the door. This will allow for a slower transition to the outdoors while getting the puppy closer to his destination.
Your puppy may not get it right the very first time, but he will eventually associate this grass pad as the appropriate bathroom spot, regardless of where it’s located.
Then, allow your puppy to use the litter box outside if they are curious. You can do this by moving it just outside the house and into the backyard, close enough to the house that he’s not thrown off by this new location.
Again, offer treats and praise if your puppy makes the connection and goes potty outside. This is a necessary step in the transition and will give the puppy the reassurance needed to encourage this behavior in the future.
Frequent Potty Breaks
Let your puppy out at least every two hours during these beginning training stages.
This is crucial to familiarizing them with being outside and setting up a consistent potty schedule that you can rely on.
You may even want to crate them next to your bed at night so they are contained in the space next to you.
Establish a timeline and stick to it. You can do this by setting multiple alarms on your phone as a reminder to take the puppy out every couple of hours. This will pay off in the long run. Consistency is key.
Outside Potty Break
Now that your dog has a consistent bathroom schedule and has hopefully started to become acclimated with the outdoors, it’s time to give him a chance to start going potty outside on his own.
Ditch the grass pad and watch all of your hard work pay off! Your puppy will be happy, and you should be too.
Use a familiar phrase such as “let’s go potty” each time you take him outside now. In addition, continue offering him treats and rewards for going to the bathroom outside.
I think it’s been made clear that rewards are essential for your dog, so be sure to keep up with this aspect when transitioning them outside.
This gives them the confidence to know that they are being obedient and giving what you’re asking of them. A little bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way.
“Training treats” work best for this kind of situation because they are small and easy to keep on hand.
Of course, you can always indulge in some of your puppy’s other favorite treats as well. Just be sure to stay consistent. This praise and encouragement will signal to the puppy that he’s doing what he’s supposed to.
Teach your puppy to alert you when he needs to go to the bathroom. This is a way for your puppy to communicate his needs to you so that accidents do not continue to happen in the house.
Try a buzzer or hang a bell on the door that the dog can jingle. In order to get him used to do this, take his paw and ring the bell with it each time you go outside.
He will eventually associate the sound with going out to go potty. Be sure to encourage him with praise and treats each time he rings the bell to go outside.
Other Things to Note
The earlier, the better. You can start potty training between 12 and 16 weeks old. This is the best way to create consistency for you and your puppy.
Set an Alarm
Set the alarm on your phone every 2 hours so they can establish a routine with you. This will hold you accountable and establish a routine with your puppy.
Many experts recommend confining the puppy to a defined area or a crate until they learn to do their business outside.
Just be sure to make the crate a safe space for them by making it comfortable and maybe filling it with a few of their favorite toys and some water.
Your puppy will likely have accidents in the house throughout this process.
It’s important not to punish them for this. Rather, take the puppy outside immediately to associate the yard with being the primary bathroom spot.
What If Your Puppy Doesn’t Want to Go Outside?
Tether your dog
This involves tying your dog to a table or other piece of furniture near you. This will allow you to see any sudden movements that can indicate they need to go outside.
Puppies will often get restless or start pacing or sniffing around when they need to go to the bathroom. This is your cue to quickly get him outside.
Hire a trainer
Are you still struggling with potty training? Hire a trainer. They can help get you on the right track and offer professional advice.
They can give you tangible tools and things to work on at home to help your puppy with the transition.
Take your dog out at the same time each day. Offer a potty break immediately after naps and mealtimes.
Visit a Vet
It may be a good idea to visit a vet to rule out any stressors or health issues with your puppy that may be impacting his ability to control his bowels.
Your vet can tell you if they see anything concerning your puppy’s health and how they are progressing. They may also be able to offer some tips on the transition process.
While transitioning your puppy from the litter box to the outdoors may feel like a daunting process at first, following these 6 steps will have you on your way in no time.