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How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

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Haley

December 20, 2023

Dog Training

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You want your puppy to be potty trained as quickly as possible. We get it! Cleaning up accidents is no fun. And you'll be able to take your pup on more adventures, like to indoor pet-friendly stores and restaurant patios, if you're able to trust that they won't use the bathroom where they shouldn't.

Here's how to know if your potty training timeline is reasonable — and some tips to make the house training process as easy as possible on you and your puppy.

How long does potty training a puppy usually take?

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for a puppy to be fully potty trained. Most dogs get the hang of going to the bathroom outside between four to six months of age.

What factors influence potty training time?

The time it takes to potty train your puppy can vary widely depending on breed, age, socialization, and the consistency of your training.

Your puppy's physical size

Smaller dog breeds may have smaller bladders and may need to go outside more frequently. This can affect the speed of your puppy's potty training! Larger puppies, on the other hand, will have similarly larger bladders.

(Some pet parents opt to use puppy pads or even litter boxes to help with logistics during the initial potty training time with small dogs — you can read more on that below and in this longer article.)

Your puppy's age

Younger puppies have less bladder control and may need more frequent bathroom breaks than older puppies or adolescents.

A common rule of thumb: Puppies can hold their bladders an hour for every month of age, give or take one depending on other circumstances (they'll have to go sooner if they've recently drank a bunch of water, for example, but can last longer if they're sleeping).

So:

  • A two-month-old puppy (eight weeks of age) can hold their bladder for around 1-3 hours.
  • A three-month-old puppy can hold it for around 2-4 hours.
  • A four-month-old-puppy can last 3-5 hours.
  • A five-month-old puppy can go 4-6 hours.
  • A six-month-old puppy can last 5-7 hours.
  • Adolescents older than seven months can usually hold their bladders as long as fully grown dogs can, between 6-8 hours and sometimes more overnight. Keep in mind you should always give your dog a regular chance to use the bathroom even if they can go longer between breaks. 4-6 hours is a nice interval. (Think about how uncomfortable it is for you to be asked to hold it!)

How you keep a consistent schedule

Consistency is everything in house training. Regularly taking your puppy outside to the same designated area — and using consistent cues and positive reinforcement — can go a long way.

Your training techniques

Clear communication, positive reinforcement, and interrupting undesirable eliminations promptly play a significant role in the speed of potty training. It can also make a world of difference to maintain one potty spot!

We cover more of the house training process in the next section.

Your puppy's early socialization

Puppies that have been well-socialized — especially exposed to different environments and surfaces during their early weeks — may adapt more quickly to using the bathroom in a range of situations. The big outside world can be distracting for a young dog during the potty training process!

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Potty training basics

We know the process of house training can be daunting. Here's how to get on your way to potty training success!

Get your puppy on a regular feeding schedule

If your puppy eats on a regular schedule, it will be easier to predict when they need to use the bathroom!

  • Feed your puppy at the same time each day. Keep track of when they eat and when they use the bathroom so you can start to notice their individual patterns. Your dog should consistently process food in a predictable period of time. (A bonus of this schedule: You’ll be able to notice any appetite or waste changes right away to get in touch with your vet.)
  • Pay attention to any extra treats you give them during the day that might increase their need to relieve themselves. If possible, try to give treats at regular times.
  • Give free access to water whenever possible, but be aware of any times they drink more than usual (like after playing or finishing a chew).

Take your puppy outside at regular potty time intervals (and increase the time between bathroom breaks slowly)

It’s important to start small during the potty training process.

Take your dog outside more frequently than you think you need to at first — and gradually increase the intervals between their potty breaks only when they’ve shown they can consistently handle the previous amount of time.

To start, it’s a good idea to take your puppy outside on a regular schedule every 1-2 hours as well as shortly after they:

  • Wake up in the morning or from a nap
  • Finish a meal
  • Play or engage in another activity

Encourage your puppy to potty in the same area to create a predictable pattern

Dogs are inclined to use the bathroom in the same spot they’ve gone before. You can use this to your advantage outside! Try walking your puppy in a small circle in the same corner of your yard to encourage a healthy habit of eliminating there.

Use positive reinforcement when your dog gets it right

Don’t allow your puppy to play or run around before they’ve gone potty — but as soon as they pee or poop outside, praise and reward them! You can use small training treats, physical affection, or a favorite toy to celebrate their job well done.

(Note: Wait until after your dog has finished eliminating so you don’t interrupt them in the act. You want to make sure they have time to fully empty their bladder, which can take more than 30 seconds as they age, before offering a tasty treat or fun game.)

Keep your puppy in a crate or pen when you’re unable to supervise

Dogs usually don't like to use the bathroom where they sleep or eat. By confining your pup to a smaller space (like a comfortable appropriately sized kennel, wire pen, or room with a baby gate), you can take advantage of this natural instinct to reduce the odds of accidents while you're away.

Is your puppy uncomfortable with confinement in a crate, or have you just never used one before? You can read more about kennel training an adult dog in this article!

You can also consider setting up designated potty pads in your dog’s environment if you have to leave them alone longer than you think they can hold their bladder. A couple variations of this are paper training and litter box training.

A small puppy sits next to a puddle of pee on a puppy pee pad
fluffy pomeranian puppy and urine puddle, view from above

At what age should you be concerned if your puppy still isn't potty trained?


As mentioned above, potty training timelines can vary widely among individual dogs. There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer!

That said: There are general guidelines that can help you assess whether your puppy might need additional attention (or if there could be an underlying issue).

  1. Age: Most puppies can start learning basic potty training skills as early as eight weeks old. By the time a puppy is six months old, they should have made significant progress in potty training. If your puppy is often having accidents indoors after this age, it may be a cause for concern.
  2. Consistency and training: If you have been consistently following a training routine and your puppy still hasn't shown improvement after a few months, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness of your training methods. Are your bathroom break intervals fair to your puppy's bladder development? Are you rewarding your puppy for going outside? Are you supervising them closely?
  3. Health issues: Sometimes health issues can contribute to potty training difficulties. If your puppy is having frequent accidents, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying problems like urinary tract infections.
  4. Behavioral issues: In some cases, potty training difficulties may be related to anxiety, fear, or other behavioral problems that hinder the learning process. A professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help you identify and address these concerns!
  5. Life changes: Major life changes, such as moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member or pet, can disrupt a puppy's routine and contribute to potty training regression. Patience and consistency during these times are crucial.

If you are concerned about your puppy's potty training progress, consult with your veterinarian and consider seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer. They can evaluate the specific circumstances, provide guidance, and help tailor a training plan that suits both your puppy's needs and your lifestyle.

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Trainer Review of this Article

There is so much misinformation out there, we want to make sure we only provide the highest quality information to our community. This is the trainer that reviewed this article:

Lindy Langum
Founder - K9 Fun Club Staff Trainer - Summit Assistance Dogs Certified in Canine Studies (CSS), NW School of Canine Studies

Sniffspot Dog running on field

Get safe exercise for your dog by renting a private dog park near you

Haley photo

Haley

December 20, 2023

Dog Training

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