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How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy? Conquering the Pee Puddle Marathon - PawSafe
Dog Training

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy? Conquering the Pee Puddle Marathon

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how long does it take to potty train a puppy

Are you dreaming of a clean floor and accident-free cuddles? Then, the question of potty training and how long it will take is lingering in your mind. This is among the most sought-after questions, and it’s worth considering it a marathon, not a sprint. While some pups might grasp the concept of bathroom breaks within a week with intensive training, others might take it casually. It helps to remember that accidents are part of the journey, and each bad luck is an opportunity to reinforce learning with positive reinforcement.

It is your job to guide your pup with a gentle hand (and a pocket full of kibble) as they learn these new rules. We consulted Mary R. Burch and Dr. Jon Bailey, authors of How Dogs Learn and research on early puppy behavior to give you all the best info. We will also give you a detailed guide on how to speed up housetraining. So buckle up and enjoy every tiny win, from holding it a little longer to mastering the “go potty” signal.

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Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. Factors like puppy age, breed, health issues and size can affect the duration. Crate training and a regular schedule are key to getting potty training done as fast as possible.

Remember, every pup learns at their own pace, but with dedication, every pup can become a potty pro. Make sure you set your puppy up for success by making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. This means not giving them the opportunity to pee or poop indoors by being proactive about taking them outside on a strict routine.

The time it takes to potty train a puppy varies based on the individual dog and the training technique. The cornerstone of successful potty training lies in establishing a consistent routine. This involves taking the puppy outside frequently, depending on their age and after specific triggers such as waking up from a nap, eating, drinking, or engaging in play.

As the puppy grows older and their bladder control improves, the time intervals between potty breaks can gradually be extended  and some might even sleep through the night by the time the pup is three or four months old. 

However, a lot of factors can interfere with potty training. A bad experience going outside can have them refusing to go outside to poop. Health conditions can also interfere with the process, with urinary tract infections or other issues causing urinary incontinence

Sometimes a major illness or event, such as if your puppy gets parvo or if you move houses, can also cause a setback in housetraining and cause them to start eliminating in the house again.

Small dog breeds also tend to have more accidents in the house than large dogs  due to their small bladders, and so they can take a bit longer than large breed pups.

Understanding Puppy Potty Training

Potty training is the process of teaching young dogs where and when to relieve themselves appropriately. It involves establishing routines, guiding the puppy to eliminate in designated areas (usually outdoors), and reinforcing desired behaviors through positive reinforcement.

Puppy  training aims to create habits and associations that encourage the puppy to eliminate in specific spots and times, reducing accidents indoors and fostering good bathroom habits for the future.

Gradually, as the puppy matures and gains better control over their bladder and bowel movements, they can sleep through the night or hold it for more extended periods and require fewer outings.

Puppy Development and Learning

Puppies also go through several crucial stages of development and learning in their early months. Understanding these stages can help in providing appropriate care and training. During the socialization stage, between 3 and 12 weeks, young dogs are more receptive to new experiences, people, animals, and environments. 

This means that these are the best weeks to really get going on the house training.

This is an ideal time for crate training, socialization, exposure to different stimuli, and positive interactions to prevent fear and anxiety later in life, which can be frustrating.

Learning & Training Tips For Fast & Successful Potty Training

Let’s looks at some key points to fast tracking potty training your pup.

Positive Reinforcement 

Use rewards like treats, praise, and play to encourage desired behaviors. Positive reinforcement ensures your pup repeats reinforced actions, helps build a solid bond, and facilitates faster learning.

For potty training, this means that after your puppy pees or poops at the right spot, you make a fuss of them and offer a treat or toy. But there’s catch. Do not praise or offer your treat or toy before or during the time your puppy relieves themselves. 

This may excite them and distract them so that they forget empty their bladders. Stand quietly until they are finished and then immediately reward afterwards so they know they are good boys and girls.

Consistency

Establish consistent routines for feeding, playtime, potty breaks, and training sessions. Dogs thrive on predictability. Having a routine for potty breaks is the best way to prevent accidents. 

For example, suppose your puppy is used to going outside every two-to-four hours, and you suddenly forget to stick to the routine. In this case, it’s very probable that your puppy will poop or pee indoors because they can’t hold it. So having a potty routine is absolutely one of the most essential keys to getting this part of your dog’s training done as fast as possible.

Socialization & Crate Training

Socialization can really help speed up the process. The more comfortable your puppy is with strangers, strange places, and noises. When puppies feel scared and uncertain, they are less likely to relieve themselves, and more likely to wait until they get back into their safe space (the house), to pee or poop. 

Crate training is also the best way to train your pup to pee and poop outside or on pee pads. We delve into how to use crate training to fast track the process below.

Patience and Understanding

Young dogs are like sponges but also need patience and understanding. They might make mistakes or take time to learn commands. Accidents are going to happen. It’s part of life as a puppy parent. So it’s crucial you never punish your puppy for having an oopsie indoors.

Observation and Anticipation

Watch for signs your pup needs to go, such as sniffing around or circling (they may also have their tail in the air). Anticipating their needs allows you to take them out before accidents happen.

Frequent Outdoor Trips 

Understand when you should take your pup out after eating and do it regularly, especially after waking up, eating, drinking, or playing. Consistency in outdoor trips reinforces the association between going outside and relieving themselves.

Designated Potty Area

Choose a specific spot outside where you want your pup to go. Consistently taking them to this spot helps them recognize it as the designated bathroom area.

Remember: Every puppy is unique and will develop at their own pace. Please consider their needs and behaviors to provide the best care and training.

Average Timeline for Potty Training

Potty training in young dogs is an essential aspect of their early development and usually begins around 8-12 weeks of age. But some breeders may start the process as early as 6 weeks before the pups go to their forever homes. The process typically extends over several weeks to a few months, depending on the breed, consistency in training, and the puppy’s learning pace.

Nighttime training involves understanding how often puppies poop and how long you should wait before taking them out after a meal. This gradually reduces nighttime outings, allowing you and the dog to sleep longer without going out.

Pro-tip: Watch for signs indicating your canine companion needs to go, like sniffing, whining, circling, or pushing their backs against the wall. 

What’s The Secret To Potty Training A Pup In Less Than A Week?

Crate training is essential in potty training puppies fast due to their natural instinct to avoid soiling their sleeping area. If you use a crate properly , it’s possible to potty train most puppies within week (especially larger puppies; it can be more difficult for small pups). This method leverages a puppy’s desire for a clean, comfortable space, encouraging them to hold their bladder until they are taken outside.

Pro-tip: If you want your puppy fully house-trained in one-to-two weeks, don’t give them free rein to roam in the house in unsupervised. Use at least two weeks to either keep them in an enclosed area like a crate or pen and supervise them closely in the house. Preventing accidents from happening is key to getting your pup house-trained as quickly as possible. 

How to Use the Crate for Fast Potty Training In One Week

So let’s look at how you can house train your pup in a week. Remember this is general guide that will depend on how committed you are, your puppy’s age and size (older puppies and larger puppies will get it right faster), and if your puppy is completely healthy.

1. Choose the Right Size Crate

The crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not too spacious that they can use one corner as a bathroom.

2. Create a Positive Association

Introduce the crate positively, with treats and comfort items, so the puppy views it as a safe, pleasant space.

3. Establish a Routine

Regular feeding and potty breaks are crucial. Immediately take your puppy outside to a designated potty area after meals, playtime, and after being in the crate.

Here’s an example of a daily potty training routine for a puppy using crate training. This schedule assumes the puppy is around 8-12 weeks old and can hold its bladder for approximately 1-2 hours. Adjustments may be needed based on the specific puppy’s needs and age.

Sample Potty Training Routine with Crate

Morning

  • 6:00 AM: Wake up and immediate potty break outside.
  • 6:15 AM: Playtime.
  • 6:30 AM: Breakfast in the crate.
  • 6:45 AM: Potty break after eating.
  • 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Crate time (with a potty break every hour if possible).

Midday

  • 9:00 AM: Potty break followed by a short play/training session.
  • 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM: Back in the crate for a nap.
  • 11:00 AM: Potty break.
  • 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Supervised playtime or socialization.
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch in the crate.
  • 12:15 PM: Potty break after eating.
  • 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Crate time (potty break midway if possible).

Afternoon

  • 2:00 PM: Potty break followed by playtime or a walk.
  • 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Crate time for a nap.
  • 4:00 PM: Potty break.
  • 4:15 PM – 5:00 PM: Playtime or training.
  • 5:00 PM: Dinner in the crate.
  • 5:15 PM: Potty break after eating.

Evening

  • 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM: Crate time (with a potty break around 6:30 PM).
  • 7:00 PM: Potty break followed by play or training session.
  • 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: Relaxation time with family, with a potty break midway.
  • 9:00 PM: Last meal/snack for the day in the crate (if needed).
  • 9:15 PM: Final potty break.
  • 9:30 PM: Bedtime in the crate.

Notes:

  • Overnight: Young puppies may need a midnight potty break. Gradually, they will be able to hold through the night.
  • Consistency is Key: Try to stick to the schedule as closely as possible. Consistency helps your puppy learn faster.
  • Adjust for Age: As puppies get older, they can hold their bladder for longer periods and the schedule can be adjusted accordingly.
  • Observe and Adapt: Every puppy is different. Pay attention to your puppy’s cues and adjust the schedule to suit their individual needs.

Pro-tip: To help your puppy sleep through the night, cut off water about 2 to 3 hours before bedtime and their last potty break. Make sure to give them fresh water again first thing in the morning.

Remember, patience and consistency are crucial in potty training. Puppies thrive on routine, and this schedule provides a framework for successful crate-based potty training.

4. Recognize Signs

Learn to recognize when your puppy needs to go. Common indicators include sniffing, circling, or whining. Immediately take them outside upon these signs.

  1. Gradual Increase in Crate Time: Start with short periods in the crate and gradually increase the duration as your puppy grows older and gains better bladder control.
  2. Praise and Reward: Always praise and reward your puppy after they eliminate outside. This positive reinforcement makes them associate outside pottying with good experiences.
  3. Avoid Punishment: If accidents happen, avoid punishment. It can create fear or anxiety, which can hinder the training process.
  4. Night Training: Initially, puppies might need a nighttime potty break. Gradually, they will sleep through the night without needing to go out.

Through consistent use of the crate in a positive and patient manner, puppies learn to control their bladder and bowel movements, leading to faster and more effective potty training.

  1. Accidents Happen: Accidents are inevitable during the learning process. If your pup has an accident indoors, which is one of the reasons people give up their canine companion and affects about 28% of domesticated pups, don’t scold or punish them.
  2. Catch Them in the Act: If you spot your pup about to squat — swoop in! A quick but gentle scoop-up to the outside sends the message that indoors is not the potty zone.
  3. Patience and Persistence: Understand that every pup learns at their own pace — be patient, persistent, and encouraging throughout the process.

Remember, every puppy is different. Some might catch on quicker than others, and that’s fine. You’re not just teaching them where to go potty; you’re building trust and a bond.

Preparing for Potty Training

Before you start the potty training adventure with your young dog, grab your gear, set a gold-star routine, and scout out the perfect potty spot. Trust me, a little preparation can go a long way!

1. Essential Supplies

First things first, get yourself a sturdy potty training crate because you can’t watch your pup every second. Add some absorbent training pads, a bunch of treats for rewarding the good behavior (critical!), and a leash for those potty trips outside.

On the subject of pee pads, they can be great help if you live in an apartment or other area where it’s difficult to take your puppy out to pee every two hours. Pee pads can also help in extreme weather conditions when it’s too cold to take your pup out. The other time pee pads are helpful are when you have small breed pups that often just can’t hold their bladder very long. In these cases, taking them to pee  on a pee pad is the best way to go.

However, if you have a larger breed puppy and you want to do the potty training fast, skip the pee pads as it adds extra steps. Instead, stick to a routine of taking your dog outside before they have a chance to eliminate in the house. Also use a crate to teach them to “hold it”.

2. Creating a Routine

Plan a consistent schedule for feeding, playtime, and potty breaks. Predictable routines help puppies learn when it’s time to go outside. Decide on regular potty breaks: right after waking up, post-playtime, and after eating.

Stick to this routine and watch yourself become a potty-training wizard.

3. Choosing the Right Spot

Designate a specific area outside for your pup to eliminate. Consistently taking them to the same spot will reinforce the behavior.

4. Education

Education like the one offered here lays the foundation for successful and efficient training. Learn about your pup’s cues before elimination, like sniffing or circling. 

Understanding their behavior helps you anticipate when they need to go and allows you to choose the approach that aligns best with your puppy’s temperament and lifestyle.

5. Enzymatic Cleaner

Dogs mark their space with urine. They do it for various reasons and are also likely to go back to the same spot they peed on to pee again. Purchasing an enzymatic cleaner will break down organic compounds, eradicating the scent that might attract your pup to revisit the same spot.

6. Patience and Positive Reinforcement

Prepare yourself mentally for accidents and approach training with patience. Positive reinforcement is key — prepare plenty of treats and verbal praise for when your pup gets it right. e ready not to punish as punishment mostly intensifies behavior problems, as this animal welfare manual suggests.

7. Choose a Pet-Friendly Environment

When a dog experiences discomfort related to the environment, people, or the act of eliminating, it can disrupt their ability to learn and associate the appropriate place for a potty. These emotions might cause the pup to withhold elimination altogether, making it challenging to understand where it’s acceptable to go.

However when puppies are introduced early to different environments, they relate better and grow to become emotionally strong and confident dogs.

8. Consistency Among Family Members

Ensure everyone in your household is on board with the training plan. Consistency in commands and expectations helps your pup learn faster.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Here are some common issues encountered during puppy potty training and troubleshooting tips:

Frequent Accidents

If your pup is having frequent accidents indoors, revisit the basics. Ensure you take them outside frequently, especially after meals, naps, and play sessions. Tighten the schedule to reinforce the association between going outside and eliminating. Also check your pup for health issues like diabetes or a urinary tract infection that may be making them pee a lot. 

Not Understanding Signals

Sometimes, puppies may not display clear signals when they need to go. Watch for subtle signs like restlessness, sniffing, circling, or sudden pauses in play. Anticipate these behaviors and take your pup outside pre-emptively.

Inconsistent Training Methods

Inconsistency among family members or mixed messages in training can confuse puppies. Ensure everyone follows the same training routine and uses the same commands to avoid confusion.

Troubleshooting these issues often involves:

  • Re-evaluating your training routine.
  • Being more vigilant.
  • Adjusting the approach to suit your puppy’s needs better.

When to Seek Professional Help

Seeking professional help for potty training might be necessary if:

  1. Persistent Accidents: Despite consistent efforts, your young dog continues having frequent accidents indoors with no improvement over time.
  1. Health Concerns: If your canine companion shows signs of physical discomfort, such as frequent urination, straining, or peeing in their sleep, it’s crucial to consult a vet. Underlying health issues might be contributing to potty training difficulties.
  1. Extreme Fear or Anxiety: Some puppies may develop severe fear or anxiety related to potty training, leading to refusal to eliminate outside or extreme distress during the process. A professional trainer or behaviorist can help address these issues and provide guidance.
  1. Training Challenges: If you encounter difficulties understanding your pup’s behaviors or struggle to implement effective training techniques, seeking guidance from a professional trainer or behaviorist can offer personalized advice and support.

Research states that pets owned by guardians who seek advice from vets are less likely to experience behavioral problems. Professional help can provide insights, tailored strategies, and expert guidance to address specific challenges you might face during potty training. 

It’s always wise to seek assistance when you feel overwhelmed, stuck, or concerned about your pup’s well-being or progress.

Maintaining Potty Training Success

Maintaining success in potty training requires ongoing consistency and reinforcement. Here’s how to sustain your pup’s potty training success:

Stick to the Routine

Continue with the established schedule for feeding, playtime, and bathroom breaks. Consistency reinforces the learned behavior and helps prevent regression.

Watch for Cues

Even after successful training, stay vigilant for your pup’s signals indicating they need to go outside. Anticipating their needs and taking them out promptly reinforces the habit.

Positive Reinforcement

Use enthusiastic verbal cues like “Good job!” or “Well done!” combined with treats, a favorite toy, or extra playtime as rewards. This positive association encourages your pup to repeat the behavior, reinforcing the connection between going potty outside and receiving praise or rewards.

Monitor Freedom

Gradually increase your dog’s freedom indoors as they demonstrate reliability in potty training. If accidents occur with increased freedom, consider temporarily reducing their access until they’re consistently reliable.

Regular Outdoor Trips

Maintain frequent outdoor trips, especially after meals, naps, and play. Repetition reinforces the association between outside and potty. 

Address Changes in Routine

Changes in schedule or environment can sometimes lead to setbacks. If this happens, revisit the training basics and reinforce good habits with extra attention and consistency.

Use Potty Training Sprays

Potty training sprays are formulated with scents that mimic urine or feces, attracting dogs to specific spots for elimination. The idea is to encourage dogs to recognize designated areas for potty, particularly outdoors.

Maintaining a consistent routine, positive reinforcement, and ongoing patience will reinforce your pup’s potty training success and ensure they continue eliminating in the appropriate outdoor locations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Potty training a puppy takes two to tango, but surely, with the proper steps, you can groove smoothly. Let’s answer those burning questions to help you and your pup get in rhythm.

Can I speed up the potty training process for my puppy?

Absolutely! Consistency is key — take your pup outside frequently, reward triumphant outdoor bathroom breaks, use a crate responsibly, and set a regular schedule for meals and potty trips. Also, ensure your puppy has plenty of opportunities to get it right.

Why is my 3-month-old puppy still having accidents indoors?

At three months old, indoor accidents for a puppy are relatively common and part of the learning process. Puppies are still developing their bladder and bowel control, and their ability to hold it for extended periods is limited. It’s very normal for a puppy at this age to still have accidents indoors.

Can you teach an 8-week-old puppy where to poop?

Yes, it’s possible to start teaching an 8-week-old puppy where to eliminate, but it’s essential to understand that at this age, puppies are very young and still developing physically and mentally. Accidents are expected at this age, and positive reinforcement and patience are key. 

How often do puppies go out at night?

At night, puppies typically need to go outside more frequently due to their smaller bladders and developing control. Very young puppies, around 8-10 weeks old, might need to relieve themselves every 2-3 hours during the night. As they grow older, they can usually hold it for more extended periods.

How long does it take to potty train a puppy on pads?

The time it takes to potty train a puppy to use pads can vary widely depending on the individual puppy’s age, breed, consistency in training, and the puppy’s ability to grasp the concept. Generally, it might take several weeks to a few months to train a puppy to use pads consistently. 

Final Thoughts

Potty training a puppy isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes, it is, quite literally, if you’re doing outdoor training!

Remember, patience, treats, praises, and sticking to a routine like glue are your best buddies during this time. Each pup is different and catches on in their own sweet time. Generally, the potty training adventure can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

And hey, if you’re reading this covered in puppy pads, don’t worry. With dedication and a hefty dose of love, you and your pup will conquer the potty-training challenge in no time! Now, go out there and make those tiny triumphs happen!

References:

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.