How to Make a Puppy Hold Its Potty Without a Crate

Potty training a puppy takes consistency and patience.
Jupiterimages/ Images

Successfully potty training your puppy is the result of developing a routine that works for both you and your dog. Many of today’s canine experts recommend using a crate when housebreaking your pup, and while it can be helpful, it’s not essential. Patience, praise and structure are the keys to teaching your puppy not to soil indoors.

Setting the Stage for Success

Step 1

Make a comfortable bed for your puppy in a small room or area of the house that you can block off with a child’s gate. A cardboard box with old towels works well. The area should be large enough that you can place newspapers or wee-wee pads on the opposite side of the room, but small enough that your puppy doesn’t have access to expanses of unprotected floor.

Step 2

Move “accidents” to the newspaper when they occur. Some puppies take to paper-training like pros, while others need a little encouragement. A urine-soaked paper towel or actual feces placed on the newspapers helps your puppy identify the correct potty spot by smell.

Step 3

Clean up accidents thoroughly. Commercial products are available that mask the scent of dog urine. You can also use white vinegar for a final floor wipe. Avoid using ammonia, which can mimic the smell of urine.

Establishing Food, Sleep and Potty Routines

Step 1

Take your puppy outdoors or to an indoor potty spot as soon as he finishes eating and immediately after naps. These are the two times when a puppy is most likely to potty. The safest way is to scoop him up in your arms and carry him out to reduce the risk of an accident.

Step 2

Place your puppy on his potty spot and tell him to “go potty.” Use the same command every time to help him learn that your command means it’s time to do his business.

Step 3

Praise your puppy enthusiastically when he goes potty in his designated spot. Your puppy wants to please you and when he learns that going potty in a certain spot elicits a warm response from you, he’ll want to repeat the behavior.

Step 4

Feed your puppy no later than two hours before his bedtime and let him have a drink of water no later than one hour before bedtime. Make sure he has ample time to potty just before you put him to bed.

Step 5

Ignore accidents. They’re going to happen. Scolding or chastising can backfire by making your puppy anxious and more likely to have another accident.


  • Start gentle potty training techniques with your puppy when he’s about 8 weeks old. Puppies are like children, no two learn at the same rate. Your puppy might be housebroken in a couple of weeks, or it could take a couple of months.

  • Feed tummy-friendly foods. Changing dog food brands and feeding your puppy table scraps can give him diarrhea, making it much harder for him to hold his potty until he gets outdoors.

Items You Will Need

  • Soft puppy bed
  • Newspapers
  • Wee-wee pads
  • Urine removal spray