Congrats on your new puppy but now the hard part could start which is potty training.Are you saying to yourself I need help potty training a puppy?
If you’re one of the 23 million American households who adopted a puppy during the pandemic, you’ve likely thought about or tried housebreaking your puppy.
For the dog owners out there who are still learning how to potty train their furry friends, we’ve put together the following guide with all you need to know about potty training a puppy.
Potty Training a Puppy: The Basics
Although every puppy is different, the timeline and cost will vary. But in general, here’s what you can expect.
When Should a Puppy Be Potty Trained?
Your puppy will be ready to train at about 12 weeks. At this age, they’ll be old enough to hold it for long enough that you can create a schedule. Younger puppies have to go out every hour, and sometimes as frequently as every 30 minutes.
Even if your pup is too young to officially begin housebreaking, it’s never too early to start rewarding positive habits and establishing a routine.
Taking your pup on as consistent a walking schedule as possible will create good habits from a young age. Bring your pup to their designated walk spots and praise them every time they go outside.
What are the Tools and Costs of Potty Training?
Since potty training your puppy is all about positive reinforcement, you’ll need treats and rewards to teach them the most quickly it is helpful to give them treats when they go to the bathroom where they are supposed to. You’ll also need a crate and playpen for the times you’re not around. The costs could be costs such as a crate which can vary between $50-$250+. The other costs would be potty pads if you choose to use those.
Dealing With Accidents
No matter how often you take your pup outside or how well-behaved they are, accidents will happen.
It’s normal to get frustrated, but your puppy will not learn faster or train more quickly if you take out your negative reaction on them. Rubbing their nose in urine will not teach them that accidents are bad – if anything, they’ll just become more confused.
If you catch your puppy as an accident is about to happen, distract them rather than yell at them. Make loud noises or pull out a toy to get their attention. Hopefully, this will give you enough time to put on their leash and signal to them they’re going outside.
Then, take them outside like you would on your scheduled walks. Once they go to the bathroom properly, reward them with a treat.
When your puppy does go inside or you can’t stop them in time, stay calm and don’t show any negative reaction. Clean up the mess and stick to your normal walking schedule.
To clean the mess, you’ll need a special pet cleaner to completely get out the scent – you don’t want your puppy to make that spot a habit.
Closely supervising your puppy will reduce accidents and help your puppy understand positive reinforcement. Think of it from your puppy’s point of view: if they’re feeling uncomfortable from a full bladder, going to the bathroom on your carpet will give them relief. To them, going potty feels good, regardless of where it is.
When you watch your puppy and take them outside frequently, they’ll feel the relief of going potty as well as your positive reaction and even a treat. Over time, they’ll learn that going outside is the most rewarding option.
How Do You Potty Train a Puppy? 5 Steps
Regardless of the puppy, every dog will benefit from being taught at a young age the times and places to go potty. Here are the five steps to follow for the best way to potty train a puppy.
Step 1: Build a Routine
The first and most important step of potty training your puppy is creating a routine. Dogs thrive on routines, and potty training will become much easier if you establish a schedule for your puppy.
Having time blocked out of the day to take your puppy out for walks will make your life easier, too!
In the beginning, your routine will have to include more frequent potty breaks for your pup since their bladder won’t be able to wait for very long. A few weeks or months into the training process, you can modify your routine to reduce the number of walks each day.
When You Wake Up
As soon as you wake up in the morning, take your puppy out of his crate and take him outside. After all, most of us usually take a trip to the bathroom a few minutes after we’re awake.
Your dog hasn’t been out in eight hours or more, so they’ll need to go outside ASAP. Make sure you’re not taking your time to make coffee or get ready for your day – just throw on some running shoes, drink some water, and head out!
If your pup isn’t making it through the night, consider changing its eating schedule to earlier in the evening. Also, make sure that night walks aren’t a fun part of the day that they should look forward to. Keep your walks all business in the evening and make your daytime walks fun to get your pup following the right schedule.
Speaking of meals, take your puppy out every time they eat. Digestion time will be different for every dog, but the average will be about 30 minutes. Your puppy could need to go out anywhere between just a few minutes after eating to an hour later.
Waiting too long after a meal will likely turn into an accident as your dog will feel the pressure from their food turn into waste. The first few weeks will be trial and error to find your puppy’s sweet spot, but it should be smooth sailing from there!
Your after-meal walks will be at the same time each day if you maintain a consistent eating schedule for your pup. Your dog will be grateful that they can expect when to be fed and walked each day.
When your pup is young, large meals are often too much to handle. It’s best to break down your pup’s food into two or three small meals every few hours instead of one large meal each morning.
When Your Puppy Wakes Up From Naps
Following the same logic as you would when you take out your puppy in the morning, your pup should go on a walk each time they wake up from a nap. The sooner you take your furry friend outside after they doze off, the more you’ll reduce the chances of an accident.
Before Leaving Home
If your puppy’s just a few months old, you won’t be able to leave the house for longer than an hour or two in the beginning. Once your puppy hits the three-month mark, you can begin spending a few hours outside of the house at a time.
Before you leave, always give your pup a long walk to give them the chance to go potty.
If you’re not sure how long your pup can go, use the month-hour rule. This suggests that for every month up to the age of six months, your pup can hold it for the number of hours that equals their months in age.
Playtime is one of the cutest and most bonding experiences for you and your puppy. They’ll likely be running and jumping around, which may make them need to go.
Since they’ll be so happy, they likely won’t even notice that they have to go potty. When you’re winding down with playtime, take them out for a few minutes to give them the chance to go.
At the end of the day before you and your puppy go to sleep, take your pup out on an evening walk to give them one last chance to go potty for the night.
Step 2: Set Up a Cue
As your dog gets more trained, you won’t need to maintain as rigid of a schedule. 10 walks a day will turn into 5. But your dog may have to go before a scheduled walk.
When this happens, having a cue in place will help them let you know that it’s time to go potty. Most often, pets are taught to sit by the door, ring a bell, or perform a certain trick when they need to go out.
The more obvious the cue, the more likely you’ll notice that your pup has to go potty and you can get them outside before an accident.
Step 3: Designate a Familiar Location
When you take your puppy outside, it’s important to make it clear that it’s not playtime, To help your puppy understand that they’re outside to go potty, do the following:
- Take your pup to a secluded area
- Go to the same places every time
- Don’t play with your pup and keep your energy calm
- Don’t get frustrated or emotional if they don’t go potty
At first, your puppy may not go outside every time you take them out. This is normal as they’re learning what your desired routine is. If they do go outside, you want to reward them so they understand what the proper actions are.
Step 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Use a Crate When You’re Not Home
Using a puppy training crate will help during the puppy potty training process because it will help give your pup a sense of control.
They’ll view the crate as their special space, and they’ll want to keep it as clean as possible. For puppies, a crate is a place to rest and feel protected, not a great choice for a bathroom.
Keep in mind that putting your puppy in their crate doesn’t automatically mean they’ll hold everything in. They still need to go out at regular intervals that are appropriate to their age and schedule, and they need ample attention and care when you’re around.
But if you’re leaving your 4-month-old puppy home for two hours, a crate is a helpful option.
Step 5: Properly Reward Your Puppy
Always reward your puppy when they go potty outside during the housebreaking process. Rewards are the key to your puppy understanding that going to the bathroom outside is the better alternative to going potty inside.
Every time you take your puppy out, make sure you have a few puppy treats with you. After they go potty outside, give them a treat and high praise.
It’s important to deliver rewards at the right time. Give your puppy a reward too soon and they may not actually learn to become potty trained. Give your puppy a treat too late and they won’t understand which action led to the reward.
Step 6: Gradually Easing Up on Training
Your dog may pick up proper house training in manners in just a few weeks. Some dogs may take months to get the hang of potty training. So how do you know when it’s time to end house training?
Begin by testing your pup when you release her from her crate. If she signals to you that she wants to go out instead of just relieving herself on the nearest carpet, it’s a sign that she’s learning.
Make sure to give her a treat and lots of positive praise so she continues this behavior!
Reward your pup by giving them more trust around your home. After one month without any accidents in their designated room in your home, expand their free space to another room. When another month goes by without an accident, repeat this process.
If your pup does have an accident after earning more rooms, put them back in the original room for one week and follow the first five steps of training more strictly.
In the short run, it will feel like quite a bit of work. But in the long run, you’ll have a potty-trained pup!
Frequently Asked Questions
Being a new dog parent comes with a lot of questions. Here are some of the common concerns that many puppy owners face when they’re trying to housebreak their new furry friend.
How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?
For most dogs, the process will take between four and six months. Thats why its nice to have durable and reliable potty training pads so in case there are mess ups the puppy can be trained to go on the potty training pads.
As you move into later months of training, you can expect your puppy to be almost completely trained with the occasional accident. To reduce the time it takes to train your puppy, use positive reinforcement to encourage going potty outside and avoid punishing puppies for accidents.
In some cases, you’ll be able to train your puppy in only a few weeks. To do this, you’ll need to be around to let your pup out every single hour of the day. If you have the time to encourage your puppy to go outside, potty training your puppy fast may be doable.
However, keep in mind that this isn’t the norm! Each puppy goes at their own pace, and they need your support and love to train more quickly.
Can My Eight-Week-Old Puppy Be Potty-Trained?
Eight weeks is still too young to potty train your puppy. At this age, they won’t be able to notify you when they need to go, and they can only hold their bladders for two to three hours.
The best thing to do with a young puppy is to establish a routine for going outside and eating meals. Once they get older, they’ll already be accustomed to the schedule and may take to potty training faster.
What Are the Hardest Dog Breeds to Potty Train?
Each dog has their own personality and history, so you can’t say for certain which breeds will give you the easiest or most difficult experience. Usually, though, most dogs belonging to a certain breed will have similar temperaments.
The hardest dog breeds to potty train are typically Jack Russell Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers, both of which are smaller dog breeds. You can expect smaller dogs, in general, to be a bit more difficult to potty train because they have a faster metabolism.
If My Puppy Goes the Night Without Going Out, Can He Make It Through an 8-Hour Day?
It’s always rewarding to see that your puppy can make it an entire night without having to go out for potty. But an eight-hour night doesn’t translate to eight hours during the day.
At night time, your puppy isn’t drinking food or water and isn’t physically active. When your puppy is moving around, napping, and eating throughout the day, he’ll have to go to the bathroom every few hours.
Later in the potty training process, your puppy will gain more control over his bladder and go less frequently for breaks. However, even potty-trained puppies shouldn’t go eight hours between potty breaks – think of how you’d feel if you had to wait that long!
How Do I Potty Train My Older Dog?
Don’t fret if you adopt an older dog and he isn’t potty trained – often, older dogs are easier to potty train than puppies. Especially if you have a comfy crate for them to stay in while you are gone.
Follow similar steps as you would with training your young dog: take your furry friend out at set times each day and have meals at regular hours.
In the beginning, your dog may be resistant to changes in the routines that they’ve grown accustomed to. Just stay consistent and positive.
Keep your eye out for any existing habits that your dog seems to have. Remember that your dog is trying his best to be a good boy, but he may have some residual negative behaviors from previous owners or abuse.
How Do I Know When My Puppy Needs to Go Outside?
Most dogs will start to change their behavior when it’s time to go out. The most noticeable signs are circling around you and whining. Often, dogs will also scratch and sniff the door or their rear.
Keep your eye on your puppy when they disappear from the room. If they have previously used your favorite carpet or a corner of your home as a bathroom spot, chances are they’ll return there to do it again.
How Many Times a Day Should I Take My Puppy Outside to Potty?
Usually, the number of times you’ll need to take your puppy out each day will depend on their age.
If your puppy is less than 6 weeks old, he’ll have to go out every 30 to 45 minutes. If he’s 6 to 12 weeks old, every hour will do. And from 12 weeks and up, it will be every 2 hours until he’s potty trained.
Keep in mind that these numbers are just guidelines, though. Your puppy may need to go out more frequently than every few hours, even if she’s 5 months old.
No matter how much time has passed since the last walk, potty training your puppy means that you should take your pup out after every nap, feeding session, or intense playtime.
What Are Some Warning Signs to Look Out For?
Throughout the potty training process, you’ll get a closer look at your dog’s health. And even after your dog is potty trained, you should still keep a close eye on their urine and stool.
Pay special attention to the following.
- Increased or discolored urine
- Change in stool consistency
- Blood in urine or stool
Any changes in your dog’s bathroom habits could be a sign of something more serious, ranging from separation anxiety to a health condition.
Contact your veterinarian early when you start to notice unusual symptoms. Your pup will be back to normal in no time!
Building the Best Relationship With Your Furry Friend
Potty training a puppy can be a cinch when you go about it the right way. By creating a routine, giving your puppy rewards, and maintaining a positive attitude, you’ll speed up the process and make it more enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Visit our blog for more tips on raising your pup!