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Puppy Potty Training Checklist

For your convenience, I’ve deconstructed an essential puppy starter kit so you know what to buy first. You can always add onto this list to personalize your pup’s experience.

– Black wire crate, large enough so your dog can stand up turn around and sit down.
– Foam bed egg crate or dog bed to go inside of crate for cushion.
– Blanket or towels, preferably machine washable go on top of the bed, and one towel to go on the roof of the crate as needed to block out direct sunlight and create shade.
– Treats
– Chew sticks or bones; whichever your dog prefers.
– Toys
– Small Bowls


NOTE:  ** Your pup enjoys cleanliness as much as you, if not more than you, so wash their crate towels & blankets as often as you wash your own bed linens.  Since their scent of smell is 30,000 times stronger than ours, use a fragrance free detergent or light scented lavender and an unscented fabric softener.  Fabric softener helps to remove pet hair as well as make it soft.

Everyone asks me about potty training when they bring home their puppy. For obvious reasons, it’s the number one need of my clients. A schedule is paramount to setting up the win/ win for potty training.  Here’s a schedule that has worked successfully for me for the last 18 years.  Tweak it to your puppy’s needs.


General Potty Training Schedule

Puppies up to 4 months need all of their shots, so here is a basic crate training schedule until they can be socialized with other dogs.

After your pup turns 4 months, it’s time to up your pup’s socializing and activity.  Replace indoor play time with walking outside.


Keep your shoes/ flip-flops next to your bed, fire drill style and have your clothes ready to go in the morning. Offer filtered water to your puppy while out of the crate.  At this young of an age and up to 6 months, you want to offer a little bit of water while in the crate as to stay hydrated.  Keep in mind that water and food inside the crate will stimulate a potty break.

6:00 – 6:30     Take puppy outside IMMEDIATELY.

7:15 – 7:30      Indoor Playtime

7:30 – 8:00      Give puppy food and water, place puppy in crate (Allow 15-20 minutes for digestion)

8:00                 Take puppy outside

8:15                 Place puppy in crate



12:00               Take puppy outside

12:15 – 12:30  Indoor Playtime

12:30 – 1:00    Give puppy food and water, place puppy in crate (Allow 15-20 minutes for digestion)       

1:00                 Take puppy outside

1:15                 Place puppy in crate



5:00-5:30        Take puppy outside

6:15 – 6:30     Indoor Playtime

6:30 – 7:00     Give puppy food and water, place puppy in crate (Allow 15-20 minutes for digestion)

7:00 – 8:00     Take puppy outside

8:00 – 9:00      Playtime

9:00                 Return puppy to crate

11:00               Take puppy outside

11:15               Return puppy to the crate for bed time


At four months, your puppy should have all of his shots and is ready to mingle!  Prior to the four months, I encourage you to take your dog to as many places as possible, even though they can’t socialize with dogs they don’t know: outdoor cafes, the car wash, stores, etc.  It’s beneficial to get familiar with sounds and people.  For some reason, many dogs are afraid of garbage trucks.  The earlier and more you expose them, the more immune they will be.  Ever look at homeless people’s dogs?  They’re so calm because they are constantly exposed to the elements.

As stated earlier, at four months, replace indoor playtime with walking outside. Your pup wants to learn about his new neighborhood. Don’t just walk the entire time.  Stop to smell the roses and whatever else.  Take a look at nature through his eyes.  Walking and sniffing is the canine equivalent of social media.  They’re all checking in with one another this way.

It’s also a safety factor to go on neighborhood walks.  If your dog ever got out, she would be able to find her way home because she knows his neighborhood and she knows the location of her house.  Most dogs when they get out and they get lost, it’s because they get turned around and panic and they don’t know how to find their way back home.  Most of the time they’re only a few blocks away.

During the daytime, it’s best to have the crate in an area thats high traffic and where you are.  For example I work at home.  Even though I have a desk, I like to work at the dining room table.  I like to place a crate in front of my living room window (NOT facing sunlight) so the puppy can look out the window and see me working at the dining room table.  They have good company and so do I.

I have another crate in my bedroom next to my bed.  It’s much easier for me to have two crates then to move around one large crate twice a day.  If you cannot adhere to the crate training schedule during the day, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Most of us have jobs and some of us have families as well.  We are all doing the best we can, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

If there is one department where you should absolutely not make an exception and that’s having your pup sleep in his crate at night.  This sends him the most important message that he can ever learn:  You are the boss.  In their language, the pack leader sleeps at the most elevated point so they can look out for predators. You are their fearless leader.

Dogs that are prematurely welcomed on the bed sometimes become aggressive towards other dogs because they think they are the alpha of the family.  They’re being sent a wrong signal that they too are the fearless leader and they want to protect and defend the home.

Your dog will eventually be able to sleep on your bed and you will know when the right time will be because you will not feel guilty about it.  For me, my dog Bridget likes to sleep on the floor.  She’ll visit me on my bed, but she ultimately prefers the floor because it’s cooler.



  • Give your pup lots of opportunities to succeed at the potty training game.
  • You cannot take out your dog too many times a day.  If you have the time and energy, every couple hours is ideal.  The more opportunities he has to succeed, they quicker he will become potty trained.
  • If there is an accident in the crate, it’s just that: an accident.  No reprimanding for that.  A pup would NEVER soil their den.
  • If your pup soils inside the house, ideally you can catch him in the act and redirect outside.  Follow up by communicating that he potties OUTSIDE.  All dogs understand this.
  • Most breeds catch on quickly, particularly retrievers and large dogs.  Smaller dogs are a little more challenging because they need more opportunities because their bladder is smaller.  Terriers in general are the most challenging breeds to potty train, so be patient if you have a terrier.  It’s been my experience that Maltese and Yorkshire terriers are the hardest of the terrier breeds.  They have an affinity for peeing on carpeting.
  • Successful potty training requires a crate because your pup is a den animal!

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