How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

It depends!

There’s no magic age or amount of time, but people generally set their expectations too high. We wanted to write this post because potty training might take longer than some new puppy owners realize.

It truly depends on the individual puppy and the consistency of the puppy’s owner.

With Lindsay’s weimaraner puppy, it took about 6 weeks for the potty training to “click.”

She got him at 8 weeks old and once he was 14 weeks she realized he hadn’t had an accident in a long time. He definitely was not 100 percent potty trained yet. More like 80 percent.

Six weeks may seem fast but during that time she kept thinking, when will my puppy “get it”? It got really old taking him out 12 or 13 times a day, but it paid off.

It takes 2 or more weeks to potty train a puppy

We get a lot of emails that say things like:

“I just got a puppy and I’ve been taking her out every 2 hours but she still goes potty in the house. She just isn’t getting it!”

And when we ask how long they’ve had the puppy, it’s usually a short time like 3 or 4 days or maybe two weeks.

It takes at least two weeks to fully potty train a puppy. Most puppies will need 4 to 8 weeks or even longer.

It’s very simple to potty train a puppy, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s hard work. Lindsay had to take her little guy out literally 13 times a day. That’s every day. For 42 days … before he seemed to finally catch on.

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Some puppies are easier to potty train than others

Here are some reasons potty train a Weimaraner puppy was pretty easy:

1. Weimaraners seem pretty easy to potty train because they’re smart! Some breeds may be more challenging. Just be consistent.

2. Larger breeds in general seem fairly easy to potty train. This might be because their owners are more consistent.

3. Lindsay worked from home and had a flexible schedule. She could take her puppy out every hour. Not everyone can do that.

So what we’re trying to say is it took Lindsay 6 weeks to potty train her puppy, but she had the luxury of a flexible schedule. If it’s taking your puppy a little longer to catch on, don’t worry. That’s OK! It’s not fair to compare your puppy to others. Just stick to your routine and he will get it with time.

Puppy Potty Training Methods:

To keep it simple, what you really need to do to potty train your puppy is:

  • take your puppy out often, like every hour.
  • crate/kennel him whenever you can’t supervise.
  • do NOT expect your puppy to “tell you” he needs to go! Just take him out.

Other tips:

1. Take your puppy to the same spot every time. Head through the same door every time to get there. You’re creating a habit/routine.

2. Head out the same door every time. And take the same route to the potty area. Remember, you’re creating a habit.

3. Give a highly valued treat immediately. Do this immediately after he goes. Don’t wait until you’re back inside. We recommend Zuke’s minis.

4. Carry him out if he’s having accidents on the way. Lindsay carried Remy out every time for about three weeks or more.

5. Crate/kennel your puppy when you can’t supervise. This is so your puppy does not wander off and have accidents. Most will not go potty in their kennels. When you’re home with your puppy, keep him in the same room as you so you can supervise and prevent accidents.

6. Ignore accidents unless you catch him in the act. If you catch your puppy going potty or poop in the house, calmly say “no” and carry him out to the correct spot. Reward him there! Yay! Good boy! If you discover an accident after the fact, just calmly clean it up. If you scold your puppy at this point, he won’t understand the connection.

Your puppy will catch on as long as you are patient and consistent.

It does get easier.

*If you’re enjoying this article, I’d love to send you other helpful puppy tips in my weekly newsletter. Click Here.

8 week old puppy potty training schedule

Here is a sample potty training schedule for an 8 week old puppy.

  • First potty break at 6 am.
  • If she plays right after that first potty break, take her back outside for another one, even if that means going outside again at 6:30ish.
  • She’ll have to go again 10-15 minutes after breakfast. If that’s served around 7 am, plan for another potty break around 7:15 ish.

You may easily have to take your 8 week old puppy out for 3 potty breaks within her first 90 minutes of being awake.

  • If you’re back inside by 7:30 and your puppy settles in for a nap, take her back outside right after she wakes up, maybe around 9:30/10 ish.
  • Take her back outside around 12:30, 2:30, 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, and 10:30 pm.
  • Puppies eat 3-4 meals per day, so remember to also take her outside 10-15 minutes after each meal has been served.

Tip: Barbara started a puppy potty journal when her boxer mix puppies Missy & Buzz moved in. It was a daily journal where she wrote down every time she took the puppies out and whether or not they peed and/or pooped. This journal was super helpful in getting them on a potty routine!

How often do puppies poop?

Puppies eat a lot more frequently than adult dogs and will usually have 3-4 meals a day during their first 4 months. This means that they’ll also be pooping more frequently than adult dogs.

That being said, puppies usually need to poop fairly quickly after they’ve eaten, so they’ll likely be needing to poop at least 4 times per day during their first 4 months. Lucky you!

how long does it take to house train a puppy

Potty training a stubborn puppy

Some puppies might come across as stubborn because they keep having accidents in the house.

However, more than likely the puppy just doesn’t understand what’s expected of him. Be patient and make sure you’re being very consistent in your routine, taking your puppy out to the correct spot frequently.

Evaluate the situation and set up very clear structures:

1. Are you taking the puppy out immediately after meals, naps, and playtime?

2. Create set mealtimes rather than free-feeding your puppy. That way it’ll be a lot easier to gauge when your puppy needs to use the bathroom.

3. Reward your puppy with verbal praise and a tasty, high-value treat every single time he goes potty outside. He’ll soon make the connection between using the bathroom outside and getting a food reward.

4. Could his crate be too large? Keep him crated in the right sized crate that’s not too large. You can either upgrade crates in size as your puppy grows. Or you can invest in a larger one and use a divider.

Dogs don’t want to spoil their sleeping area. If they’re staying in a crate that’s too large, they might turn one side into their sleeping area, and the other one into their bathroom.

Remy

If you catch your puppy in the act of going potty inside, calmly pick him up and take him outside to your preferred potty area instead. This will teach him the right spot to go potty in.

Working long hours

It could be that you have no choice and have to work long hours. Meanwhile, your puppy is not able to get out for frequent enough potty breaks.

If that’s the case, a support system will be helpful to start your puppy’s potty training out on the right paw. You could ask friends or family to help out during the first few months. Or, hire a professional dog walker or pet sitter to give the puppy several daily bathroom breaks.

We recommend you do an online search for professional dog walkers in your area. Also see ThatMutt’s article Overnight Pet Sitting Rates. The article will give you an idea of what they’ll charge and tips on how to choose the right pet sitter.

Puppies Missy and Buzz
Puppies Missy & Buzz in their crate

Puppy house training mistakes

We’ve raised a few puppies and are happy to share what doesn’t work when house training them. The following training mistakes are common ones and should be avoided:

Not being consistent. Consistency is the most important element in any dog training, including house training. The concept is the same as it is with potty training kids. If they’re not practicing daily, they’ll never get it.

Waiting too long to take the puppy out. It’s up to us to know when our puppy has to go. Remember, that’s after every meal, nap, and playtime session. We’re all guilty of being lazy, tired or busy, but just keep the eye on the prize of having a house trained dog! We promise that’ll make it so much easier to be a little disciplined during that initial training phase.

Scolding too firmly and scaring the puppy. Puppies are very impressionable during their first few months and don’t take well to being yelled at. It’s best to be assertive, but in a calm way.

Bad timing when handing out the reward. It’s essential to reward the puppy at the correct time. If we’re giving the reward too late or too early, the puppy will start making the connection between the reward (treat and/or verbal praise) and whatever he’s doing when being rewarded (maybe sniffing the ground or “cleaning up” after himself). That’s instead of understanding that the reward comes because he’s taking care of his business.

Puppy chewing and teething
Remy

Scolding hours after an accident happens. Unless you catch your puppy in the act of peeing or pooping inside right in front of your eyes, there’s absolutely no point in scolding him hours later. Dogs simply don’t think like that and won’t be able to make the connection.

More potty training mistakes

Not using a crate or confining at all. Puppies are easily overwhelmed by too much initial freedom. We suggest using crates and/or playpens when you can’t actively supervise your puppy. Even when you can, it’s a good idea to limit your puppy’s access to certain rooms. Just keep most doors shut to decrease the likelihood of setting your puppy up for a potty break failure.

Assuming the puppy “gets it” when he doesn’t. Your puppy might be honestly confused if he’s not presented with a very structured schedule. Repetition and consistency are key in (house) training!

Rubbing the pup’s nose in the poop. There’s no point in doing this to your puppy as all it does is create confusion. Your puppy will never in a million years understand that you’re rubbing his nose in his poop because you didn’t want him to poop in that very spot. So please don’t! Instead, calmly clean it up and take your puppy to an acceptable potty area.

Hitting the puppy. Even if it doesn’t hurt and/or you’re using a somewhat soft object like a newspaper, hitting your dog will only make him fear you. Instead, you want to create a bond with him that’s based on trust.

Using pads and assuming the puppy knows to use them. No dog is going to instinctively know what a training pad is and that you want him to pee on it rather than on the soft rug in the living room.

Read on for our take on potty pads and tips on how to teach your puppy to use them!

How to potty train a puppy on pads

Puppy potty pads can be a helpful tool when potty training a puppy if they’re used correctly. However, they can also make us lazy and can have the opposite training effect. We generally do not recommend puppy pee pads but we’re sharing about them because we know many people choose to use them regardless of our opinion.

Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of puppy pads:

Remy the weimaraner puppy
Remy

Pros of puppy pee pads:

  • Can be a practical potty area when the puppy has to stay home alone without bathroom breaks.
  • Potty pads can save your expensive carpet or wood floors from urine stains.
  • They can come in handy when it’s pouring and your puppy refuses to go outside.
  • The pads come in various sizes.

Tip: Potty pads can also be a good option for older dogs who are incontinent or those who’ve had surgery and have a hard time walking. Older dogs, especially house trained ones, will need to be trained to use the pads. So it would be a good idea to start training before a surgery for example.

Cons of puppy pee pads:

  • They’re expensive if used frequently. They’re not too bad. On Amazon, you can get a 100-pack for $20 but it adds up over time.
  • Can be counter-productive and teach the puppy that it’s ok to go potty in the house.
  • The puppy might never become truly housebroken.
  • They’re not environmentally friendly.
  • Puppies can track their pee from the pad onto their surrounding area.
  • If the puppy is bored, he might play with the pad, chew it up or even eat it.

Tips to potty train a puppy on pee pads:

  • Create an area that’s lined with several potty pads, for example the inside of a playpen.
  • Stick with this area to get your puppy used to their designated indoor potty area.
  • Place the puppy on that area several times per day when you suspect that he has to go.
  • Reward him with verbal praise (Yay, good boy!) and a high value treat when he potties on the pad area.
  • Gradually reduce the amount of potty pads you put down to condition your puppy to use the bathroom only on the pad.

See That Mutt’s article How to train your dog to use pee pads or grass pads for more helpful tips on this topic!

How long can a puppy hold it?

This is very general information. It’s better to take your puppy out more frequently than to guess how long he can hold it.

Puppies can approximately hold it for their age in months +1.

  • A 2 month old puppy can hold it for 3 hours.
  • A 3 month old puppy can hold it for 4 hours.

However, we shouldn’t ask puppies or adult dogs to hold it for any longer than 6 hours. And as you know by now, most puppies will need to go potty after they wake up for a nap and after they eat, regardless of time.

How long does it take to potty train a boxer puppy?

Barbara lived in a third floor apartment when she adopted her 8 week old boxer mixes, Missy and Buzz.

They were potty trained after about 8 weeks. They were 4 months old at this time.

At first, Barbara had to carry the puppies downstairs and out to the potty area so they wouldn’t have accidents along the way!

She had a flexible schedule and took the puppies outside about every 2 hours for their first month. She also gave them a potty break in the middle of the night, as well as after every nap, meal and playtime session.

How long does it take to potty train a Lab puppy?

On average, it takes most Lab puppies about 6 weeks to be fully potty trained.

Lindsay will be getting an 8 week old Lab puppy in summer 2021. She will report back on how long it takes to potty train her Lab puppy! She assumes it will take about 6 weeks like it did with her weimaraner puppy.

How long does it take to potty train a puppy

How to potty train an adult dog

Much of our puppy potty training advice holds true for house training older dogs as well.

Consistency and patience are certainly the most important components, but it also works in our favor that older dogs already have fully developed bladders. That means that they can usually hold it longer than puppies and won’t need quite as many potty breaks.

While puppies do have to pee on a very regular basis, older dogs may be more likely to “mark.” Barbara experienced this when she started fostering a 1.5 year old dog who was house trained. However, Wally was stressed out in his new environment and expressed this by marking the back of a couch.

How to stop a dog from marking in the house

  • Wally was leashed inside the house for the first 10 days and was always in the same room as she was.
  • He wore a belly band. It’s essentially a diaper for male dogs.
  • When Barbara couldn’t actively supervise him, Wally was crated.
  • When Wally went for potty breaks outside, he got rewarded with praise and tasty treats.

Once Wally was comfortable in his new home, the marking stopped. It also helped that he got to go on several structured daily walks where he got the opportunity to pee and poop.

Wally needed to get used to a new routine, and that’s the case for any dog regardless of age who starts living with a new owner.

Barbara later adopted him and experienced the marking one more time, about a year later. That’s when she was in a new relationship and Wally felt jealous of her boyfriend, so he started marking one particular wall right outside of her bedroom. The belly band came out again and that fixed the problem.

Wally wearing a belly band

See That Mutt’s article How to potty train an adult dog for more information on this topic.

How long did it take your puppy or dog to become fully potty trained?

Let us know in the comments!

Related posts:

ONE-ON-ONE TRAINING

If your specific problem was not addressed here, you may be interested in our one-on-one dog training. Ask us unlimited dog training questions by email for just $9.99/mo (cancel anytime). Learn more here or email Lindsay@ThatMutt.com.

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

33 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?”

  1. My little guy hit 5 months yesterday and I still wouldn’t call him 100% potty trained. About a month ago I thought he was close and started giving him more freedom, but then Hiccup got violently ill and had a few bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea in the house. I know Hiccup couldn’t help it, but Link promptly began pooping in the house once he saw “big brother” doing it. Back to watching him like a hawk!

  2. We brought our puppy home 4 weeks ago, he is 12 weeks now. I was wondering how long this would take. People ask if he is potty trained so often I was starting to worry. Hopefully in the coming weeks he will get it more.

  3. The asking part for Jango came with us training him to use our Pebble Smart Doggy Doorbell. We’d use his paw to ring the doorbell before we opened the door. The unfortunate side effect was that the cat learned to use it, too, when he supposed to be inside only.

  4. Every puppy has been different. Linus caught on the quickest. He had it pretty well figured out after we had him for about 2 weeks and I don’t remember him having an accident after his first month home. Since he came from the shelter I’m not sure of his exact age, but he was probably around 12-14 weeks old when he was completely potty trained. On the other hand Stetson had the occasional accident all the way until he was 9 months old!

  5. We got Kuba from a large pound as a 10 – 12 week old stray. He had 4 pee pee accidents within the first week and that was it. Wow, and I got upset with myself for not preventing the puddles.
    Our new foster dog on the other hand peed on the floor this morning, the first time since we got her. I assumed she was potty trained after going reliably outside the whole week. Square one.

    Good luck with Remy! You’re so dedicated.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I get upset with myself too. Ha! You must’ve done a really great job with Kuba! What a good boy he is.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            One of my friends was saying her rescued puppy was much better behaved than her breeder puppy, possibly because the rescue puppy had to learn to adapt to different environments so quickly – shelter, transport, foster home, who knows what. The breeder pup had been fairly catered to all her life. That made sense to me. But I guess they’re all just unique.

  6. All of our boys were really easy to train; the girls were harder. Sydney understood that she needed to go to the door but if you didn’t notice her immediately, she’d go potty at the door. Zoey was the same way; many times, she’d stop on the way to going outside.

    I learned to be more proactive with them. All of our dogs let me know when they have to go in their own way, but I still get them up for potty breaks just so that I’m not making four different trips to the door.

  7. This is a really great post with lots of good suggestions. My five year old small dog doesn’t “ask” to go out, she just relies on us taking her out on a schedule, which works really well. She’s used to our routine and never has accidents.

  8. Oh yes, I remember taking the puppies out 12-13 times a day for several weeks as well 😉 Definitely hard work, but boy, did it pay off!! I was as lucky as you with a very flexible schedule and being able to take them out that much, so I would probably not recommend getting a puppy if someone had a full-time job – unless they have a great support system of friends, family, and professional dog walkers that can help with letting the puppy out several times throughout the day 😉

  9. Sandy Weinstein

    i think this is a big problem with me. my oldest was so good, (now she has accidents but i dont get mad. she has a little dementia, deaf and almost blind, so if i dont catch her right away, she will go in the house. however, she knows to still go to the door most of the time.) my oldest was potty trained in less than 2 weeks, and was always so good. the 2 younger girls, not so much. they know better however, every now and then, they have accidents. not so much when i am at home, however, if i am gone for several hours, i may find an oops when i come home. i let them go out b4 i leave but if they have to go, they go. i tried the crate thing again, several times, but then i felt guitly about leaving them in the crate for several hours if i had to leave the house. they know to go to the door when they have to go. i tried to train them to use the bell, but that did not work. i guess my girls are not that smart. somedays i come home and there are no accidents and as soon as i let them out, they go potty. so it makes me wonder why someday they are better than others.

  10. Neeko took 10 months to be potty trained. I think she’s just a stubborn bitch. Bruce came potty trained, and aside from some early marking issues, he’s never been a problem. (Except that time he peed in Faolan’s crate, while Faolan was in it, eating his dinner.) Faolan was about 9 months old and had never been an inside dog when I got him, but he picked it up pretty quickly, within a couple of weeks. His cues were really subtle early on, so I watched him like a hawk.

  11. I know this is an older post but I do not think there is an “average” time before a dog is potty trained. I think there are a lot of factors that affect the situation and time it takes to train your dog. My first puppy was 100% potty trained by 12 weeks which was 2 weeks after we got her. She did not have an accident after that but she was also a kennel trained dog and would not go potty in her kennel. Our second puppy was potty trained in about 6 days after we brought her home at 8 weeks old. I know some people are going to say that I am lying but honestly she just wanted to go outside and go potty like her older two siblings. She would go to the door and cry to go potty at just 9 weeks old. She is also extremely smart. All of my dogs have been rescues and are >70lbs a piece. You just have to really get to know what your dog needs and the type of training dogs respond to. When our youngest dog went outside to go potty she got a little training treat and she loved it. Our middle dog just loved to be praised every time she went outside and that was enough reward for her. Potty training is all dog dependent as some dogs mature faster than others. If you have one dog that is potty trained I have found the others follow its example well.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes that is exactly it. There is no average time. It all depends on the dog and the situation, consistency, etc.

  12. I have a Sheltie who was trained in two weeks. Our breeder told us that for the first week he was home, his feet should never touch the floor. Kennel or up with us. Put him on the floor just long enough to walk through the door to go potty. It worked marvellously. He got lots of handling and is a cuddly dog right through to today, and he equated floor with door. Not one accident in three years. Now if we could just cut down on the barking in the car!

  13. I got my puppy at 12 weeks old. Within about a month she learned not to go in the house while I was there but when I was at work, even with a mid-day break, she would have accidents. Over the next six months I learned two important things.

    1) Crates are not for every dog. My puppy actually had more accidents in the crate because it stressed her out. When I switched to a 4×4 exercise pen accidents dropped off dramatically.

    And, 2) sometimes accidents are not due to a house training failure. Somewhere along the line my puppy picked up what we think was Giardia. She was my first dog ever and I attributed her occasional diarrhea to sensitivity to new foods (we were taking training classes and new treats were common during this period) and the fact they were happening in the house to the fact that she wasn’t reliably house trained yet. In the end I recognized that something was wrong and after several vet visits and a round of antibiotics she felt much better and the accidents stopped.

  14. We have had our Sparky for a month now. He has mastered the dog door and seems to have no problem using it to go out and poop. The problem is he will not go out and pee without one of us with him. Just this morning he came upstairs, the opposite floor of the dog door, to find me and peed right in front of me. We are stumped!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think you just need to keep taking him out every time and reward instantly for going potty outside. He probably just doesn’t fully understand yet. A month isn’t all that long. So be patient and keep at it.

  15. We have a 6 month old cavachon that is mostly house trained but just this morning she was on the couch with me and I looked over and she was peeing on a blanket. So frustrating

  16. Is it a mistake to leave a pad in my puppy’s crate during the night so she doesn’t wake me up next to her little bed? Should I take the pad off when I leave her in the crate during the day?

    1. I would personally not put a pad in a puppy’s crate. Most would just rip it up. Or they might learn it’s OK to go potty in their kennels. I would get up and take her outside in the middle of the night if she needs to go, although many can hold it all night – from maybe 10pm to 5 am or so. During the day, you should have someone let her outside once or twice if you are at work or not home.

  17. Help!
    My “puppy” is five months old and still not potty trained not to poop in the
    house. I take her out at all the recommended times and she pees just fine.
    About the only time she poops outside is first thing in the morning,
    regardless of how long we are outside. Now that she is older I sometimes
    have to remind her to go potty as she gets busy playing with my older
    dog. I’ve been trying to encourage her to ring the bells is she needs out
    but isn’t interested. However if my older dog should ring the bells to go
    out, rarely, she is right there to go out with him. When he goes poop she
    has her nose right there, almost in the way of getting pooped on. I’ve taken
    her out by herself but get the same results.
    What am I doing wrong or missing? Oh she is very sneaky about pooping in
    the house.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Do you feed her meals at specific times to help predict a regular “schedule”? I would also jot down notes of when the accidents happen. Make sure to take her out regularly, maybe for a short walk, to get things “moving.” Praise and treats when she does go. May need to crate her more often when you can’t supervise to prevent accidents.

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