Potty Training Puppies Made Easy: The Magic of Litter Training

May 8, 2023

Why litter train?

We litter train our puppies because… well for one, puppy poop stinks… and when you have a whole litter of puppies pooping at least 6 times a day wherever they feel like it, stepping in it, smearing it… well it makes a disastrous, stinky mess!!!! The other reason is because it sets our puppies up way ahead of the game when they come home with you and start potty training. They already know they are supposed to poop and pee in one specific area and even though there will be some regression when they move to their new home. They VERY quickly figure out the new system and it makes things much easier!

The entire theory behind crate training and litter training is that dogs and puppies naturally have a sleeping area and they do not want to go to the bathroom in their sleeping area. When you crate train (if the crate is the appropriate size) you are basically saying “this is your sleeping area, your den” and even though it may not be instantly their favorite place, it will grow to become their safe place, their sleeping place. They will hold their bowel and bladder as long as they possibly can in their den/crate.

When we litter train, we start young, at just a few weeks old, we start while they are still with mom simply by having a light layer of wood shavings (we get ours from TSC) in with the puppies in the whelping area where they start their life, slowly we increase as the poop starts increasing. Wood chips absorb urine and stick immediately to poop to keep it from being smeared and keeps the puppies SO SO much cleaner. As they grow and are weaned from mom we start pushing the wood chips back towards the corner and add a crate (their sleeping area) as well as covering the floor in blankets so that slowly the wood chips make their way to a little tray in the corner and the rest of the room fills with bedding. If they poop or pee in the wrong area we pick it up and put it on top of the wood chips area and clean the spot very clean so it doesn’t smell like the bathroom. You would be amazed how quickly and naturally this whole process occurs. Once they get the hang we start removing some of the bedding until it’s just a large crate they all share and sleep in and a litter box in the corner. The poop is about 95% in the litter box, pee slips out a bit easier and is probably more like 70-80 %. But as you can imagine it is a GAME changer for us and sets the puppies up for success with you!

How do I set my puppy up for success at home?

First check out this video I made of the setup I would reccomend you use when you bring your puppy home (Heres a shorter version of that video if you aren’t into all the details).

We suggest that most of you crate train your puppies. Wood chips work great for training a whole litter but they stick to fur and end up all over your whole house. Unless you live in a place with no yard OR if you are someone that will be gone for over 8 hours a day, it really doesn’t make sense to continue litter training and not switch to crate training when you bring your puppy home. Regardless of whether you are continuing to litter train or are switching to crate training I would recommend that you buy some wood shavings (I have a small bag on our Amazon shopping list if you don’t want to buy a massive one at TSC like we do) and make a big show of pouring it in the area you want them to go to the bathroom. If you are going to litter train but switch to pee pads or fake grass or some other indoor bathroom solution for dogs I would pour the woodshavings onto there to give your puppy the clue that this is the new litter box. If you are crate training. I would pour the litter outside in your preferred bathroom area/yard and always take your puppy to that spot when you are taking him out to the bathroom. It just emphasizes by smell and familiarity the message you are trying to get across.

Some of you may be like… wood shavings… no thanks… That’s completely fine too!!!! There’s still so much benefit to understanding the way your puppy has been using the bathroom so far! They already have had weeks of training and should be easier than most puppies to get started training. It’s a common theme for our buyers to tell us how well their pups have done. Every litter is unique, some litters are absolutely 100% litter trained by 8 weeks, some understand the concept but have some work to do!

We do not sell our puppies as housetrained. Puppies don’t even get full bowel and bladder control until they are around 4 months old. They are going to have accidents. They are going to regress being in a new home and away from siblings and the setup they have known. BUT puppies get the concept VERY quickly and we believe breeders can start the training at an early age to set each puppy up for success. As with anything, different breeds and personalities vary in how they do with all of this. GOOD LUCK! And reach out anytime!