Puppies are very prone to potty accidents since they don’t have good bladder control. Thus, when you bring a new fur baby home, one of the very first steps to take is puppy toilet training. Follow these practical and straightforward steps to make your pup’s house training a smooth and less complicated process.
Q: How long can puppies hold their bladder?
A: In general, a young puppy can control his bladder for 1 hour every month of age. So if your pup is 5 months old, he can hold his bladder for 6 hours. The maximum amount of time that puppies can hold themselves off from soiling is 8 hours.
However, regardless of your dog’s age, it is best to start at the minimum time. Even though your 5-month-old puppy is capable of holding his bladder for 6 hours, it doesn’t mean that he will do that. So, during the first stages of puppy toilet training, take him out to do his business after 3 hours. Then, as your puppy grows older and progresses in his potty training, you may slowly increase the time length.
Q: At what age should a puppy be toilet-trained?
A: Start puppy toilet training when your dog is about 12–24 weeks old (3–6 months old). He can already control his bowels and bladder around this age.
Can an 8-week-old puppy be potty-trained?
Yes, but not very well. Puppies that are 4–8 weeks old are still unable to hold their bowel. This means they are more likely to have accidents indoors around this age.
Is your puppy older than 12 weeks? He can still be toilet-trained. However, completing the training process will take longer. That’s because he might have formed undesirable soiling habits, which you will need to curb.
How do you stop a puppy from peeing and pooping in the house?
Here’s what you can do to quickly toilet-train your puppy:
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #1: Limit your puppy’s access in the house.
Restrict your pup to a specific area in your home until he is fully potty-trained. You can do this by placing a baby gate or exercise pens in a room. This will keep him from having accidents inside the house.
It is recommended that you choose a room with non-porous hard flooring. There should be no carpets in the area, as dog urine odour is more likely to stain the carpet and hard to remove.
Crate-training your dog is another good approach to limiting his space. Mind that the crate should not be too big or too small.
If it’s too cramped and narrow, he will feel uncomfortable staying inside. If it’s too spacious, he may eliminate on the corner. Learn more about puppy crate training here.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #2: Create a puppy toilet training schedule.
Dogs are creatures of habit, so use this to your advantage. Plot out and strictly follow a schedule when you potty train a puppy. This will make him learn that there is a designated time to eat, sleep, play, and go for a potty. Build the schedule by monitoring his day-to-day routine. Generally, puppies need to go to the toilet:
- First thing in the morning
- Before sleeping
- After your puppy eats
- After drinking
- After naps
Mind that puppies are still unable to hold their bladder completely. Thus, they may also need to go potty in between the schedule mentioned above. Be sure that other family members also follow the puppy toilet training schedule, as even the smallest lapses in supervision can set you back.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #3: Recognise the signs that your puppy needs to go potty.
How will you know that your pup can’t hold off his need to eliminate or pee anymore? Watch your puppy closely for these indications:
- Barking or whining
- Restless circling and pacing
- Licking his genitals
- Intensely sniffing the ground
- Going to or pawing at the door
Supervise your puppy closely and familiarise yourself with his signals so that you can get him out the door before he eliminates in the house.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #4: Stick to a strict feeding schedule.
Setting a regular feeding schedule for your pup will help him eliminate at consistent times. And taking him out to do his business will be less of a guessing game. Another thing to remember is to take away his water bowl 2 ½ hours before he sleeps. This will prevent him from needing to pee in the middle of the night.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #5: Find a comfortable toilet area.
Determine the area where he will eliminate. His potty spot should be a place where he feels safe. It will be helpful to choose an area not too far from the back door. Doing so will reduce the possibility of accidents on the way to the designated area.
Make sure that your puppy is on a lead when you take him out to potty. In this way, you can keep him from running around or playing before he does his business.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to always keep his toilet area clean. Otherwise, he might refuse to eliminate there again. So scoop up all his poop and water the urine spots after he does his business.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #6: Reward your puppy after he eliminates
Use positive reinforcement and rewards-based training when house-breaking your puppy. This will encourage him to relieve himself outside rather than within your home. The reward doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. He will likely be happy with a little treat, lots of praise, or playtime.
Make sure to give the reward only after he is completely done eliminating. If you praise him or offer a treat too soon, he may not finish his business. Then you might need to take him outside again after a few minutes to potty.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #7: Take your dog to the same toilet area.
Take your puppy to the same place and use the same door every time he needs to eliminate. The exit should be generally visible to you. Thus, when he heads for the exit, you will know that he wants to go to the toilet.
If he doesn’t eliminate after a few minutes, go back inside. Do not give him any reward too. Try again after 20–30 minutes. If he tries to go potty in a different area, discourage him by firmly saying “no.” Then lead him back to his designated toilet area.
Does your puppy refuse to eliminate his toilet area? It is a good idea to use a puppy toilet training spray. It is specially formulated to encourage puppies to do their business in their designated toilet spot.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #8: Put a marker on your puppy’s toilet area.
Consider placing a marker such as a stone, brick, or potty area signage on your puppy’s pee spot. This will help him distinguish where his designated potty area is. Some puppies also like to urinate to mark their territory. Using a potty marker allows them to do that.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #9: Condition your puppy with a cue word.
You can encourage toilet time on command. Do this by introducing a specific word whilst your puppy is still relieving himself.
What are the best cue words for puppy toilet training? “Go potty,” “be busy,” “be clean,” “wee-wees,” and “poo-poos” are the classic choices. However, you can get creative and choose other words. The important thing to keep in mind is to be consistent in using the cue word.
Puppy Toilet Training Pointer #10: Avoid playing with your puppy before potty.
An excitable puppy is more likely to have toilet accidents. For this reason, save playtime after he has relieved himself. This will also prevent him from confusing the reason why he is taken outside.
When you’re doing puppy toilet training at night, there should be no playtime. Make it as boring as it can get for him. Teach your puppy that evening potty breaks are not the best time to play.
In some instances, puppies pee when seeing a family member due to excitement. To avoid this, inform members of the family to be calm when interacting with your puppy. Remind them not to sound overenthusiastic as it can also trigger his excitement.
Consistency is one of the most important factors to achieve good puppy toilet training results. If your puppy is still having trouble in house training, you may want to think back and recall what problems you might have overlooked.
However, if you have maintained consistency throughout the whole puppy toilet training but have no significant progress, you might want to get your puppy checked by the vet. They will rule out any possible health conditions that might be hindering your puppy from properly eliminating.
Q: How to Manage Puppy Potty Training Accidents
A: Mishaps during puppy toilet training are natural. After all, your pup is still in the process of learning. Here’s what you should do if your puppy has an accident:
- If your pup is in the act of eliminating, tell him “no” in a firm voice. Then calmly move him to his designated toilet area to finish his business. Do not forget to reward him afterwards.
- If you did not catch your puppy in the act, leave him be. There’s plenty of opportunities to correct it. Focus on cleaning up the mess.
Spritz a neutralising spray or use a dog-friendly cleaning product when you clean the area. This will prevent him from eliminating in that spot again.
- Most of all, do not punish your puppy. Or else, he may have difficulties eliminating whenever you are around because he is scared of you.
- Dog owners should consider keeping a puppy potty training log. This will help keep other family members up-to-date with the puppy’s schedule and progress. It is also useful in taking note of potty accidents so that everyone in the household knows how to prevent them next time.
Q: How long on average does it take to toilet-train a puppy?
A: Most puppies are quick to catch on to puppy toilet training. Ideally, it takes them 4–6 months to become fully house-trained. However, keep in mind that every puppy’s pace of progress is different.
Some complete puppy toilet training in a year. This often applies to small dog breeds as they have smaller bladders. Thus, they need to relieve themselves more often than their larger counterparts.
Rehomed and adopted puppies take time to fully house-train too. They have old elimination habits that need to be replaced with more desirable ones.
Q: What is the best way to toilet-train a puppy?
A: Incorporating the tips mentioned above as well as practising patience and consistency is the best approach to puppy toilet training. When done right, your efforts will pay off. The training will become a fun and powerful bonding experience for you and your dog.