- A few key supplies will make a world of difference in getting your puppy quickly potty-trained.
- As a professional dog trainer with a decade of experience, I've selected the best house-training products for puppies, from indoor toilets and wee-wee pads to crates and puppy barriers.
- If you're looking for more products like leashes, beds, and toys, check out our guide to the best puppy gear.
Though it may seem daunting, house-training a puppy is relatively simple — as long as you have the right gear. You won't need much, just a way to confine your puppy, a way to clean up accidents and treats to reward your dog when they get it right. If you live in a home without quick and easy access to the outdoors (or even if you don't), you will also need an indoor potty.
Over the last decade, I've helped hundreds of families house-train their puppies. For six years, I even taught a Puppy Parent Orientation at the San Francisco SPCA where I shared the secrets of quick and easy house-training. In this buying guide to puppy potty-training gear, I break down the crates, barriers, pet stain removers, indoor toilets, and treats that I've found most successful over the years.
Here are our top picks for the best puppy potty-training gear:
- Best puppy training crate: MidWest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate
- Best puppy barrier: AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Exercise and Playpen
- Best puppy pee pads: Four Paws Wee-Wee Pads
- Best pet stain remover: Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator
- Best disposable potty: Fresh Patch Disposable Dog Potty
- Best training treats for puppies: Zuke's Mini Naturals Training Treats
Prices and links are current as of 01/29/2020.
The best puppy training crate
The sturdy MidWest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate has a built-in divider so you can adjust its size as your puppy grows.
A crate can help make puppy house-training progress more smoothly by providing your dog with a safe place to relax when you can't supervise. If the crate is just large enough for your pup to comfortably lie down, stand up and turn around, they will be less likely to have an accident inside.
My favorite kind of crate for house-training is the MidWest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate. This metal wire model has an adjustable interior panel that can be moved to shrink the space down to puppy-training size. As your dog grows or when your potty training is complete, you can move the panel back to expand the interior. This crate can literally last a lifetime.
The MidWest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate has some other important features, too, making it our top pick for the best dog crates. It's well-constructed with heavy-gauge steel and strong bolt latches, and the crate's plastic, leakproof mat is easy to clean up if your pup has an accident. Rubber rolling feet protect wood floors from scratches and a handle at the top makes the surprisingly lightweight crate easy to lift. Best of all, the whole thing folds down flat for effortless transportation or for stashing away when your house-training is complete.
This crate comes in six sizes — from 22 inches to 48 inches long — and you can choose between two styles, one with a single door at the front or one with two doors, one at the front and one at the side. The wire construction provides good ventilation and visibility.
The MidWest Life Stages Folding Dog Crate isn't ideal for every dog. If you have a skilled escape artist, you may find that they are able to manipulate the bolts and get free. I've also seen panicked dogs cause real destruction to the plastic mat or their mouths or paws trying to get out. However, if you've done the work of desensitizing your dog to a crate, this is an excellent style for house-training needs and beyond.
Pros: Lightweight and durable construction, available in six sizes with one or two doors, divider to adjust size for growing puppies, leak-proof plastic pan, carrying handle, rubber roller feet to protect floors, heavy-duty slide-bolt latches
Cons: Some dogs may be able to manipulate latches, destructive dogs could harm themselves or destroy the crate's plastic mat
The best puppy barrier
The reasonably priced AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Exercise and Playpen can be used as a stand-alone confinement space or baby gate tall enough to discourage even the most determined puppies.
Setting up a confinement space is crucial to potty training, but not every pup is comfortable inside of a crate. For puppies that are sensitive to tight spaces, an exercise pen or baby gate provides a way to restrict their access to the home while giving them the room they need to feel safe.
I've purchased multiple AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Exercise and Playpens for my own home and recommend it regularly for its multifunctionality. It was even among the first gear I sent my father when he adopted his first puppy this year. Forming a 16-square-foot octagon playpen is the standard use for this foldable, rust-proof iron fencing, but if you don't have free space that large, you can spread the pen out to form a half-circle (or any shape) against a wall. If you want to give your puppy access to an entire room or section of the home, the pen can also be used to block a door, an option that is especially helpful for doorways too wide to hold a traditional baby gate.
The other thing I really like about the AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pen is its wide range of sizes. For climbers or jumpers that can clear the average 24- to 36-inch gate or pen, this product comes in 42- and 48-inch heights. The 48-inch has simultaneously contained my Great Dane-mix and my (not so athletic) cats without a problem.
The AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pen folds up accordion-style for easy storage when not in use, and if you require its services outdoors, it comes with metal anchors to ground each panel. The taller pens are quite heavy, and while that makes moving it around frequently a bit of a pain, it's actually a bonus for dogs who push at pens or gates with their nose or paws. If the pen isn't on a slippery surface like a hardwood floor, it's harder to shift around than lightweight plastic versions.
This pen is sold in every height either with or without a door. Unlike some other brands, the door for this pen reaches all the way to the ground so there is no ledge to trip over when entering and exiting. The version without a door does have hooks to connect both ends of the pen together in an octagon shape. Those with the door have a more secure bolt. Which you prefer will depend on whether you'll be using the crate more frequently as a gate or a self-contained playpen.
Pros: Made of rustproof iron, comes in five sizes up to 48 inches tall, can be used as a baby gate or pen in a variety of situations, folds away for easy storage, includes stakes for anchoring the pen outdoors, sold with a door or without, reasonably priced
Cons: Pen moves around on slippery surfaces, taller pens are heavy
The best puppy pee pads
A generous size and six layers of leakproof protection make the Four Paws Wee-Wee Pads the ultimate puppy training pad.
If you live somewhere without easy access to the outdoors, your puppy will benefit from having a place to potty inside. Plastic pee pads provide a no-muss, no-fuss option without costing a fortune.
There are plenty of good pee pad brands, but Four Paws Wee-Wee Pads, which have six layers of protection and a quilted surface, go above and beyond. They aren't perfect — some pads aren't fully sealed to the water-resistant backing and I've had to clean up a poorly aimed puddle that landed on the pad's edge about a hundred times — but these highly absorbent pads, which contain "wet-lock gel" to trap liquid, provide an excellent indoor option while you are house-training your puppy.
In addition to their regular pads, Four Paws also offers odor control pads, eco-friendly pads, and an odor control version with Febreze. However, as dogs are sensitive to smell, especially when eliminating, I'd recommend sticking to an unscented style. All versions of this potty pad do a fine job of minimizing lingering odors. If you find your pup has poor aim and keeps overshooting the edge, combining two 22-inch by 23-inch pads can create a larger toilet area. Resist the urge, however, to put these pads all over the house. Giving your dog multiple locations to go inside is likely to make potty training harder not easier.
Four Paws Wee-Wee Pads come in packages ranging from 10 to 200 (not every style is sold in every size package). Since some puppies will play with their potty pads, you may want to tape or otherwise anchor yours to the floor to make it less fun. Unfortunately, like all potty pads, these will generate a lot of plastic waste, even the "eco-friendly" style. For a slightly greener option, take a look at our pick below for the best disposable potty.
Pros: Six layers of leakproof protection, quilted texture for maximum absorption, can handle multiple uses, no lingering smell after use, available in several sizes
Cons: Some pads not properly sealed to water-resistant backing, dog may cause a mess if they pee along the pad's edge, generates a lot of plastic waste
The best pet stain remover
Rocco & Roxie's Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator is effective on all surfaces and powerful enough to tackle even the toughest stains and odors.
Accidents are an unavoidable part of house-training. Part of learning to potty in the correct location is learning where not to go. But because pups tend to return to places they've had a previous accident in order to pee or poop again, it's important to remove stains completely with a cleaning formula that eliminates lingering pheromones.
Rocco & Roxie's Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator is a powerful enzymatic cleaner that removes odors, and those underlying pheromones, completely. This professional strength stain remover works on surfaces of all kinds, including carpet, hardwood, and upholstery. It's got a strong scent, but because it's chlorine-free, it's safe to use around not just your puppy, but kids too.
At just under twenty dollars for a 32-ounce bottle, Rocco & Roxie's Stain & Odor Eliminator is pricey. But the company is so confident in its cleaner that they offer a full refund if the product doesn't work as advertised. I've never had a problem removing odors completely for puppy accidents, but if you've got cats in the home, this cleaner sometimes fails to fully remove their much stronger urine scent. If you find a hidden potty spot your pup has used multiple times without you noticing, Rocco & Roxie's cleanser may have trouble cutting through the pheromones that have built up over time without multiple attempts.
Generally, I find Rocco & Roxie's Stain and Odor Eliminator to be effective the vast majority of the time, doing a better job than some other enzymatic cleaners on the market. We even named it one of the best cleaning products for pet owners. Be prepared, however, for the cleaner, itself, to have a strong odor. It should dissipate within a few hours after use.
Pros: An enzymatic cleaner, powerful against all stains and odors, can be used on any surface, discourages puppy from reusing the same area, safe for pets and children, money-back guarantee
Cons: Expensive, has a strong odor, may not completely remove the odor from other animal accidents
The best indoor puppy potty
The Fresh Patch Disposable Dog Potty is completely natural, made with hydroponically grown grass to attract your puppy and absorb urine quickly.
My biggest gripe about wee-wee pads is how much plastic waste they generate. A disposable indoor grass potty is a more natural, plastic-free solution to indoor elimination. Because it's made of grass, this indoor potty can help make the transition to going outdoors less confusing, and vice versa, if you have a pup who is used to going outside but due to lifestyle or seasonal changes now needs a safe indoor spot to go.
The Fresh Patch Disposable Dog Potty consists of a lush bed of grass in a recyclable cardboard tray. The soft, natural surface is more attractive to most puppies than a plastic one and the plant, itself, neutralizes odors and absorbs liquid. Because the grass is grown hydroponically, there's no dirt for your pup to track all over the house. Unfortunately, since the Fresh Patch doesn't come with a poop fairy, you'll still have to regularly remove feces from its surface.
This disposable grass potty comes in three different sizes, from mini (16 by 12 inches, recommended for dogs up to 8 pounds) to large (24 by 24 inches, recommended for dogs up to 30 pounds). They also have a 2-foot-by-4-foot extra-large version for dogs up to 33 pounds, which is sold alone or in a cardboard tray. Larger dogs could use these potties, too, but you will have to combine two mats or change out a single potty more frequently than the recommended two to three weeks. Because the cardboard can become saturated over time, you may want to put a towel or wee-wee pad underneath the potty to protect your floors.
Like any natural product, this one has some natural problems. Users occasionally find bugs of various types living in the grass. Some have even discovered mushroom spores, which can be highly dangerous for your pup to ingest. It's also worth noting that despite the fact that the materials used in the Fresh Patch Disposable Dog Potty are all compostable, once it has been soiled with dog urine and feces, the toilet must be thrown in the regular garbage.
Each individual potty is somewhat reasonably priced but because they require frequent replacement, using this product for your puppy's indoor potty needs can add up. Nevertheless, I've seen pups who are hesitant to go on plastic pads take to the Fresh Patch quickly and easily (others will need more time and patience), and I like that it approximates the reality of the outdoors better than a wee-wee pad, a quality which may help to speed your dog's transition to only going outside if that's your goal.
Pros: Made with hydroponically grown grass, comes in a disposable cardboard tray made with 100% recyclable materials, absorbs liquid quickly, real grass naturally contains odor and attracts puppy, one tray can last for two to three weeks
Cons: Product is not leakproof, some users report finding bugs or mushrooms in their grass, can't be composted, made for dogs under 33 pounds
The best training treats for puppies
Affordable and made with natural ingredients, Zuke's Mini Naturals Training Treats are great for rewarding your dog early and often.
If you want your puppy to catch on to house-training quickly, you'll have to pay them for their hard work. Rewarding your puppy with a treat lets them know when they got it right. Any kind of food will work, even kibble, but Zuke's Mini Naturals are an easy-to-reach-for training treat made with whole foods that won't fall apart in your pocket.
There are a few things I like about Zuke's, in particular, over other brands. The first is that Zuke's are all-natural. They aren't loaded down with artificial colors or flavors, contain no fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, and they're made in the US. Zuke's are relatively soft, which makes them quick and easy for your pup to eat and contain additional healthful ingredients like turmeric. At just 3 calories a pop, the size of Zuke's Mini Naturals is just right to reward your dog without any risk they will pack on the pounds.
My favorite thing about Zuke's, though, is that they don't fall apart in your pocket or treat bag. As someone who has treats in just about every jacket and sweater pocket I own — something I recommend every puppy parent do — with Zuke's I don't have to worry that they will turn to crumbs by the end of the day.
From a human perspective, some Zuke's recipes admittedly smell terrible, especially the chicken and salmon flavors. For puppies though, that stench is highly desirable. It's the rare pup that turns up their nose at a Zuke's treat. If you find your pup to be picky about one flavor, there are six to choose from including duck, peanut butter and oats, pork and rabbit. Bags of Zuke's Mini Naturals come in sizes from 6 to 32 ounces and start at less than five dollars.
Zuke's is our top pick for the best dog treats, but if your dog isn't a fan, find more great options in our guide to the best dog treats.
Pros: Made from wholesome natural ingredients; six flavors; made without corn wheat, soy, or artificial additives; soft and small; less than 3 calories each, affordable, don't fall apart easily
Cons: Some recipes have a strong odor
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