How long does it take to potty train a puppy?
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.
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.
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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!
- How to house train a new pup
- Stop a dog from marking in the house
- How to potty train an adult dog
- How to train a puppy to use pee pads
- My puppy is going potty in her kennel
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.