Can You Potty Train a Puppy to Go Inside and Outside?

Adrienne Farricelli

You can potty train a puppy to go inside and outside, but you may encounter some challenges along the way.

Yes, you can potty train a puppy to go inside and outside to eliminate, but the process is not without challenges. Indeed, for a good reason many dog trainers discourage this and suggest sticking to just one area. While it's true that puppies may get potentially confused, it is not impossible to train puppies or dogs to go both indoors and out as long as you take several steps to help them succeed. The main issue is making sure to provide clarity on what areas in the home are OK to use, and which are not, and providing constant feedback by closely monitoring your puppy as much as you can.

Pros and Cons of Potty Training a Puppy to Go Inside and Out

The biggest advantage in training a puppy to go potty both inside and outside is convenience and flexibility. Let's face it: a time may come when you can't take your puppy or dog outside because of inclement weather or because you won't be able to come home one day on schedule to take him out. In such cases, it feels reassuring knowing that the puppy can be kept indoors without worrying about him holding it for too long or having an accident inside a crate. Of course, no puppy or dog should be left for too long alone.

The biggest disadvantage is that puppies can get confused when they are allowed to go potty inside and outside. What they struggle the most with is understanding why you get irritated when he has an accident inside when other times you praise him. However, if you start early and use some strategies, it is possible to successfully train your puppy to potty both indoors and outdoors.

A word of caution: avoid as much as possible startling your puppy or scaring him when he happens to have an accident in the home (not in the designated indoor area). This just paves the path to a puppy or dog who hides to pee and poop, putting a big dent in the potty training process.

An Example of an Ideal Setting

The most common setting is having the puppy use the yard most of the time when you are available and reserve a small area of the house such as a small bathroom or exercise pen for when you cannot take your puppy or dog outside in the yard to potty. The indoor designated area will typically have food, water and a comfy bed on one side and pee pads or a litter box for dogs on the opposite side. A crate is of course out of question if your puppy must be left alone for longer than he can hold it.

To further help your puppy or dog, it may be a good idea to make the indoor surface your puppy must use very similar to the outdoor surface. For example, if outdoors your puppy will go potty on a grassy area, use a Potty patch indoors, which is made of soft artificial grass which closely resembles the grass of the outdoor lawn.

Supervision and Constant Feedback

It goes without saying that, in order to succeed, you will need to supervise your puppy or dog very closely and provide constant feedback. Learn to recognize signs your dog has to go potty, and if you notice any when indoors (not in the designated area), be quick to redirect your puppy by enticing him to follow you outside in the yard or pick him up (if small) and carry him outside. Once your puppy goes outside, praise lavishly and give a treat.

At night, your puppy can spend time in the indoor designated area to potty. This ensures that your puppy learns to eliminate here when he needs to. When the weather is inclement, as soon as you recognize signs your puppy or dog must go potty, be quick to redirect your puppy or dog by enticing him to follow you inside the designated indoor potty area or carry him inside and place him on the pads or litter box. You may have to stick nearby and watch him closely so that you can praise him lavishly and give a treat the moment he goes.

It is very helpful to keep track of when your puppy needs to potty so that you can take him inside the designated area or in the yard when elimination is very likely. Feeding your puppy on a schedule helps and so does keeping track of how often your puppy or dog on average pees. In general, you want to take your puppy to his designated area after taking a nap, after eating and after playing for some time.

With some time, your puppy should learn that it's OK to go potty out in the yard, and that when he needs to, it's also OK to go inside the indoor designated area. Even if you aren't there to give praise and treats when he's there at night or when you are out, just the mere fact of emptying his bladder and bowels is self-reinforcing on its own.