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How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment

Easy. Adopt an adult dog who’s already potty trained! That’s what I did the first time around anyway!

OK, but seriously. It’s totally reasonable to adopt a puppy if you live in an apartment. It’s not about where you live. It’s about how much time you can commit to that pet.

Potty training a puppy in an apartment does have a few challenges though.

Mainly, it’s often a long ways to the potty area, so it’s harder to get your puppy outside quickly.

It takes a lot more time to constantly let the puppy outside when you live on, say, the 20th floor. It’s not like you can just open the door and plop the puppy down on the grass. That being said, you can still make it work.

Tips for potty training a puppy in an apartment


1. Potty train the puppy in an apartment the same way you would potty train a puppy in a house.

You can read the details about that here, but the basics are:

– Let the puppy out often (like, every 45 minutes when he’s not in a kennel).

– Supervise at all times when he’s not in a kennel by keeping him on a leash. More on that here.

– Use a kennel or gated area when you can’t supervise.

2. Carry the puppy to the potty area.

If you live in an apartment, it makes sense to carry your puppy down the hall and down the stairs for the first couple of weeks to prevent the puppy from going potty on the way outside.

I asked professional dog trainer Jill Morstad about this, and she said:

“Yes, the very young puppy will do best if the owner snaps the leash on and then carries the pup from the apartment to the outside door.

“Even though I live in a ranch houseno stairs except to the basementI’ll open the crate door and snap the leash on right there, then scoop up the young pup and carry them through the kitchen to the back door.”

She said a puppy won’t be able to “hold it” while you go from indoors to outdoors until they’re a few weeks “older and wiser.”

Puppies as Christmas gifts

3. Skip the indoor potty pads or newspapers.

I’m really against indoor puppy potty pads, fake grass and those types of products. You can read more about my opinion on that here.

Sure, there are always exceptions, but ultimately if you do not want your future adult dog going potty in the apartment then it’s best to avoid training your puppy to go potty in your apartment.

Morstad is not in favor of puppy pads or “paper breaking” either.

“A dog learns by association, and if you allow him to do his duties in the houseeven on pads or on newspaperyou are in effect teaching the dog to potty in the house.”

She said any healthy pup eight weeks of age or older can go outside, even in cold weather.

“You take him out just long enough to do his duties.”

A few additional ideas:

  • Ignore all accidents. Just get him out quicker next time.
  • Use highly valued food rewards every single time your puppy goes potty outside. Like, real chicken or bits of hamburger or steak.
  • Don’t be lazy. Laziness is probably the main issue with potty training problems.

That’s about all there is to it! For more info, you may want to read my post on potty training an adult dog here.

Now I want to hear from you.

Have you ever potty trained a puppy in an apartment? What did you do?

Related posts:

Should I get a puppy in an apartment?

Living with a hyper dog in an apartment


Wednesday 31st of December 2014

Great tips. It's super important to carry the puppy outside to do her business. And a crate works wonders. It really does. Love the photo!!

Barbara Rivers

Tuesday 30th of December 2014

Been there, done that :-) I raised our pups Missy & Buzz from 8 weeks old on a 3rd floor apartment, obviously including countless potty trips outside for the first few weeks...strengthened my leg muscles, for sure! It was hard work, but it was definitely doable - nothing a little discipline couldn't take care of! I have to say though, I DO appreciate the convenience of having a back yard these days for late night potty breaks...

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 30th of December 2014

Oh I didn't know you potty trained them in an apartment. Good to know it worked out just fine.

Rachel @ My Two Pitties

Sunday 28th of December 2014

I raised Kaya & Norman in a studio apartment but it could not have been a better set up because we had our own private deck & a tiny yard. It also had faux wood & linoleum floors, not only easy to clean up but much less enticing for puppies to pee on. My place was so small, I could always see them & take them to "the spot" if they looked antsy. Plus working from home, I could micro-manage their schedule. I think they only had a couple accidents each.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 29th of December 2014

It's nice to hear from someone who has done this. That's good to hear it worked out so well for your two. I'm not surprised, because I know how responsible and consistent you are with them.

Kimberly Gauthier

Sunday 28th of December 2014

We are so lucky to have potty trained in a house. I have a friend in a condo, but she's on the ground floor, making potty training easier. Great tips; very similar to what we did with each of our dogs. One thing my boyfriend didn't get a hang of was making sure they went potty. He'd just say "go potty" and when they started walking back to the door, he'd bring them back inside. Where they'd go potty. LOL

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 28th of December 2014

Haha! That's so funny about the dogs just following him back to the door!