The best puppy potty-training advice you will ever hear

We brought our Chocolate Boston Terrier puppy home at the end of August, and now we can’t imagine life without our sweet Annabelle Nessa.

(She even has her own Insta account, so I don’t spam everyone on my main one.)

Follow me for cuteness?

In the beginning, it was certainly an adjustment. We’d purposely waited to get a puppy until the kids were old-ish (four and six) so we weren’t dealing with two toddlers AND a puppy.

But it was still like having a newborn in the sense that your entire life is wrapped up in them. You can’t leave those fuzzy little messes alone for a second.

Shockingly, though, Annabelle didn’t have a single accident for the first 36 hours she was home with us. She peed and pooped outside every time we took her out, and I was secretly smug that I’d gotten a GENIUS DOG.

(I even had really smug plans to return the bottle of carpet pet-accident spray because we wouldn’t need it. Stupid smug me.)

… and then the accidents started.

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Dec 31, 2016 at 11:36am PST


A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Jan 3, 2017 at 4:23pm PST

I really struggled with the “watching the puppy constantly” part, especially since our kids ARE now old enough that I don’t have to do that anymore.

With a husband who is almost always working or sleeping, it felt very overwhelming. I still had to work and cook and clean and watch our two HUMAN children.

But the puppy was constantly needing my eyes on her or else … she was having an accident, chewing something she shouldn’t be chewing, eating something she shouldn’t be eating, etc.

I would enlist the kids to watch her when I couldn’t, but they kind of sucked at it. They’d get distracted when they were “on duty” and WHAM! Another accident.

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Nov 30, 2016 at 5:17pm PST


A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Dec 13, 2016 at 5:19am PST

We enrolled Annabelle in puppy training classes at our local vet and they were SO helpful. She learned all of the basics (sit, stay, shake paw, etc.) with the exception of “down” (which is apparently a hard one for small dogs to grasp, since they’re so close to the ground already.

At around the 11-week mark, I remember our trainer asking how things were going. Annabelle was still having accidents regularly and we’d had her three weeks at that point.

I felt frustrated because it SEEMED like we were doing everything right. When we took her outside, she peed! She pooped! No problem.

It was just that she was also doing those things INSIDE every time my back was turned for a minute. Arghhhhh.

“Accidents? Who, me?”

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Oct 25, 2016 at 3:43pm PDT

So are you ready for what she told me?

The BEST puppy potty-training advice I ever could have heard? …

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Sep 12, 2016 at 11:44am PDT

It’s this:

“Keep her on a leash in the house — or if you can’t watch her every second, put her in her kennel.”


At this point, we’d been putting her in her kennel every time we left the house, as well as here and there when I needed to leave the main level (to work downstairs, tuck the kids in upstairs, etc.) She didn’t mind her kennel at all, and it was such a relief to know she was safe (and that our stuff was safe from her.)

But put her in the kennel even if I’m … in the room, but busy?! Or put her on her leash in the house? 

YES! That’s what worked.

When I was cooking or loading the dishwasher, I put her on her leash and kept it looped around my wrist. She couldn’t get more than five or six feet away from me, so she wouldn’t have an accident since I was *right there.*

(They do sell hands-free leashes but I just used our regular ones.)

If I needed to pee, I’d put her in her kennel. Yes, I was only gone a minute, but this prevented her from running JUST out of my line of sight to have an accident.

Our awesome trainer reminded me not to feel guilty about doing this. 

It was the only way to ensure she wouldn’t have an opportunity to have an accident, because unless I was right there with her — playing with her, feeding her, walking her around the house on her leash, engaging with her in any way — she was safely contained in her kennel. Dogs don’t like to pee in their kennel, so she wouldn’t pee.

When she WAS with me, I could watch her closely and take her outside as soon as she started showing signs that she needed to pee — sniffing the floor, looking around, trying to pull away, etc.


She was fully trained by the 12-week mark!

A photo posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Sep 14, 2016 at 6:27am PDT

I shared this advice with a friend who had also recently adopted a puppy and was struggling with potty-training, and the next time I saw her at preschool pick-up she was VERY grateful.

Keeping her pup with her or in his kennel had completely trained him, too!

A video posted by Annabelle the Boston Terrier (@annabellenessa) on Aug 28, 2016 at 2:37pm PDT

So if you’re adopting a puppy soon, down the road, WHENEVER, please remember this advice. It will seriously save your sanity and also your carpeting.

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3 Comments on “The best puppy potty-training advice you will ever hear

  1. We started immediately after bringing Annabelle home (when she was eight weeks less a day). I think it's good to start training them to do the right thing at that point, rather than suddenly switching gears after a few weeks.


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