5.4 Potty Training Success: Indoor Potty Training

The first five days is crucial for to teach a dog to pee only at permitted areas. Once a dog starts a habit to pee at a wrong place, it’s more difficult to correct. The aim of getting this process right is to avoid getting upset and scolding your dog. It is common for owners to become frustrated during potty training, but it is not their fault at this stage because they have not learnt the correct habit.

Potty Training Indoors

Our method applies a few guiding concepts:

  1. Dogs generally don’t like to sleep on their pee. If you start with a small enclosed area with only 2 areas, a bed and a pee tray, they will choose to pee on the pee tray.

  2. After they pee on the pee tray, reward them by bringing the dog out for play time or give a treat. With repetition, they will realize that they get rewarded every time they pee on the pee tray and more likely to repeat in future (positive reinforcement) . If they pee on the wrong spot, do not reward them.

You will need:

  • Exercise pen with panels to adjust the size of the enclosure
  • Pee tray with pee pad
  • Bed + water bowl


Keep the dog in the ex-pen and let him out as reward when he pees correctly. On the first few days, the play pen or enclosure, should be set up small so that the dog has higher chance of success. It may appear cruel to keep your dog in a small enclosure for long time, but this is a temporary measure to help your dog achieve potty success faster in the first week. 

When dog pees on the pee tray, say “Good” in a happy voice. This interaction should be positive but not too rewarding. We do not want to click and treat to distract them from the act of peeing. Peeing is actually self-reinforcing behavior so it needs minimal encouragement.

Immediately after he finish peeing, bring him out of the play pen for some engagement games or give a treat. Five to ten minutes of quality play time is usually enough to tire out a dog. If you want to your puppy be free to roam indoors, please watch him at all times for signs that he needs to pee e.g. spinning, sniffing. If you see these signs, carry him calmly to the pee tray to pee. If he pees on the pee tray, say “good” and reward.

Remember to put him back into the ex-pen before his bladder is full. You will need to see patterns in his pee habits (e.g. Pees every 2h) to be able to determine this. Observe when he pees and reward him when he does it correctly. 

If you failed to pay attention and realized he peed at the wrong place, do not scold your dog because he has not learnt the correct behavior. Scolding a dog after a mistake will not teach your dog anything because the timing is delayed. Even if you scolded him at the right time, he doesn’t know what is the right thing to do. If he knew, he would have peed at the right place. At this stage, dogs do not intentionally pee at the wrong place to make us angry. 

Gradually increase the size of the play pen to help your dog to potty with success.


  • Record the number of successful pees and mistakes daily. Indicate mistakes which are due to our negligence and which are true learning errors. This will give you a better guideline on when to progress to a bigger enclosure or regress to a smaller enclosure.
  • Get everyone in the family involved in the process. This will set the dog up for success.