Potty training a puppy is not difficult to do — as long as you are consistent and patient. As long as you are doing it through positive reinforcement, the dog will be fully trained to go where it needs to go in no time.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do and answer most of the questions you likely have.
Important Bodily Functions of Puppies
There are always some dos and don’ts for potty training a puppy, especially when dog bodily functions are involved.
The good news here is that dog digestive tracts are incredibly efficient. So, you can always guess when a puppy wants to go poop — and it’s almost always about 5–30 minutes after eating.
This changes a bit as they age. Younger puppies will want to go immediately after a meal, while older dogs can hold it in for a longer time, sometimes even for hours.
If you want more details, the Animal Humane Society states that puppies can typically hold in their pee for as many hours as their age in months.
Whatever you do, the golden rule is to establish a routine with eating, so you know exactly when your dog needs to go. It’s much easier than trying to control its bladder!
Timeline for Potty Training a Puppy
So, let’s answer the main question — how long does it take to potty train a puppy?
Puppies usually need around four to six months to be completely potty trained. However, there’s never an exact timeline, and some dogs might take a whole year until they learn.
This usually depends on the living conditions the puppy had before you, as well as its breed and size. For example, smaller dogs need more bathroom breaks due to their smaller bladders and faster metabolisms.
Similarly, some breeds are more stubborn, while some are more eager to please their owners and thus better focused on the given task.
When Should a Puppy Be Potty Trained?
To make the process as efficient and as easy as possible, it’s best to start when they are between 12 and 16 weeks old.
Of course, if you already have an older dog, you should start as soon as you can. Just keep in mind that, in that case, the timeline above might not apply.
For example, if an adult dog has been trained to use puppy pads as its toilet spot, it might take a while to break that habit and teach it to go outside.
Can I Potty Train an 8-Week Old Puppy?
You can, but this is usually too early. Dogs learn to control their bladder and bowel movements later on, usually from the 12th week onwards, which is why it’s better to wait.
Potty Training a 12-Week Old Puppy
Once your dog is at least 12 weeks old, you can start potty training it by using a lot of repetitions, so the puppy can get used to doing things in a certain way.
In the beginning, it’s best to keep it confined to a smaller space, so that it can learn to go outside to do its business. You can keep the puppy inside a smaller fenced area or a playpen, where the mess will be easier to find and clean.
This is also because dogs naturally don’t like making a mess where they sleep and eat, so they won’t be comfortable pooping or peeing inside. Plus, it encourages boundaries and helps them adjust to the new environment more easily.
Moreover, you should set up a regular schedule for feeding and taking your puppy outside.
Also, make sure you take the dog to the same spot every time. When it’s done, give it a reward, like a good CBD treat, for instance. They have many health benefits, like reduced inflammation and anxiety. They can also help your dog calm down and fall asleep easier.
How to Toilet Train a Puppy in 7 Days?
You can’t teach the dog everything in such a small window of time. However, with enough supervision, persistence, and sticking to the schedule, you can start seeing results within a week.
It will take some more time to get the puppy to correct its mistakes, like pooping inside at night or something similar. With continued practice, you’ll iron out these issues.
So, how long does it take to potty train a puppy? As little as a week with mistakes that are bound to follow in the coming weeks, as long as you are persistent and stick to the schedule.
But in general, it will still take some four to six months to fully train it.
How to Potty Train a Puppy at Night
As you can probably guess, you should eliminate a dog’s need to go potty at night, so you can always get a good night’s sleep. This takes time, though.
Your puppy will need to go at least once or twice during the night. When you do go, remember not to play with it or walk it. Just let it do its business and put it back in its crate or playpen.
Also, keep in mind that you should be the one to wake your puppy up and not the other way around. Otherwise, your puppy might learn that barking and whining will draw your attention, and you definitely don’t want that.
So, set an alarm clock, and as time passes, you’ll adjust the timing. Eventually, you’ll be able to prolong your puppy’s sleep until it doesn’t need to go out during the night at all.
Additionally, it’s best to remove the water bowl during the night, so the puppy has less of a need to pee.
Are There Any Differences Between Potty Training a Puppy and an Adult Dog?
Yes, mainly in how hard it is to train them. The older the dog is, the easier it is to potty train, because adult dogs have better control of their bodily functions.
Still, you should always start as early as possible, but no earlier than 12 weeks of age. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see the results — and the sooner you’ll stop cleaning after your dog inside.
Potty Training Puppies Using Different Methods
Many owners want to potty train their puppies using either pads or crates, so let’s briefly explain these two methods.
How to Potty Train a Dog Using Pads
The cleanup is always easier if you use puppy pads or pee pads. However, you still need to teach your dog to use them.
But first, make sure you choose a good pad that is:
- Highly absorbent
- Large enough to get all the mess the puppy makes
- Visible enough, so the dog gets used to it more easily
Once you have the pad, you need to teach the dog to use it. Get it acclimated to it first, let it sniff and walk over the pad. Then, when it needs to go potty, make sure you use the same command you usually use.
Ensure you do this consistently whenever the dog needs to relieve itself, so it’s easier to learn. Also, reward your puppy every time it does the job correctly.
How to Potty Train A Puppy Using Crate
Besides pads, you can also use crates. Once you have a crate, you should keep the puppy in it 15 to 25 minutes before every bathroom break.
After that, the dog should be outside the crate until 15–25 minutes before the next bathroom time. If it doesn’t do its business, put it back in the crate for another 5–15 minutes, and try again.
The crate is quite useful, but there’s a lot you need to know here, so we’ll give you a complete guide for training a puppy with a crate.
Potty Training a Puppy in a House vs. an Apartment
There’s not much of a difference if you want to potty train your puppy outside. Even if you live in a house, you’ll still want to keep your little friend indoors until it’s older.
How to Stop Your Dog from Pooping in the House?
You will have to teach it to go outside using all the methods we’ve covered here.
An important topic to discuss here is punishing your dog. If the dog poops inside more than once or twice, many owners think they should punish it for it.
However, you shouldn’t punish your puppy when it poops inside. Even though they can understand up to 250 words and gestures, dogs don’t understand why they are being punished. So, instead of teaching your puppy a lesson, you’ll only make it afraid of you.
Consequently, they might become uncomfortable going to the toilet when you are near.
Puppy Toilet Training Tips
Aside from everything mentioned, there are still a few tips that can help with housebreaking a dog:
- Always use the same area outside. This helps the dog develop a strong habit.
- Always use the same surface. If the puppy is used to the grass or bare ground, always use that same area.
- Don’t play or talk to your puppy until it’s done. Repeat the command to get it to pee or poop and don’t distract it in any way.
- Be patient. Even if your puppy doesn’t go the way you intended, don’t be discouraged. Just take it again.
- When it has to go during the night, don’t play. Get your puppy to finish its business and go back to sleep. You shouldn’t encourage it to play after it’s done.
- Don’t take it inside immediately. This only applies to daytime, as taking it inside right away teaches your dog that playtime is over after pooping, making it not want to do that.
- Don’t punish your puppy. If you punish it when it’s done something wrong, it will only learn to fear you.
- Clean up with an enzymatic cleanser. When the puppy makes a mess inside, don’t clean it with an ammonia-based cleaner, as the smell will attract it to do it again on the same spot.
How to potty train a puppy to go to the door?
Most dogs will naturally associate doors with going out, but there are still some things you can do to encourage the behavior. For example, you can teach the puppy to use a bell to ask to go outside, and you can associate that bell with the door.
How often should I take my puppy out during the day and at night?
The younger the puppy is, the more often you’ll need to take it outside to do its business. When they are very young, they need to go at least every 2–3 hours.
As for the night, while the puppy is young, you’ll likely have to go out once or twice. When it’s older, you won’t have to go during the night at all, as adult dogs can keep it in for extended periods.
Can you litter-train a dog?
You can, but it depends on the breed, and you need to use a lot of positive reinforcement. Litters are typically better suited for smaller dogs, like a pug, one of the most ancient dog breeds. However, if the puppy is destructive or loves to dig, the litter will likely be useless.
How long does it take to potty train a puppy on pads?
There is no exact answer here, but it usually takes them the same amount of time as with any other method — four to six months.
How long does it take to potty train a puppy using a crate?
It’s usually the same as with pads and other methods — four to six months to train them thoroughly. They’ll know a lot much earlier, though, within four to eight weeks.
How to potty train a puppy that only plays and doesn’t potty outside?
There’s no exact answer here. You’ll have to use as much of the advice we’ve given you here as you can, and you’ll have to be persistent.
Are there any puppy potty training classes I can take?
Yes, of course. There are many programs and guides you can find online, and you can always ask a veterinarian for additional help.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how long it takes and what you need to do, there is no reason to fear that your little dog will keep making a mess inside.
Persistence and positive reinforcement are crucial, so get started, and don’t stop until the puppy is fully trained!