How long does it take to potty train a puppy? Are there any tips or secrets to speed up the process? And at what age can you expect to say goodbye to the puppy pads for good?
Potty training can be an intimidating—and let’s face it, unpleasant—process for any Pet Owner. But, just like your dog’s first bath or finding the right pet insurance plan, it’s a lot easier than you might be expecting! With the right method, you can get through this phase as quickly and painlessly as possible!
How long does it take to potty train a puppy by age?
Just how long you can expect to work on potty training will depend on the age of your dog. A puppy that’s just two weeks old has a couple of months of training ahead of them. A ten month old puppy may be able to be potty trained in under a week! So, let’s talk about how age can help us answer the question, “how long does it take to potty train a puppy?”
- Up to three months old. At this stage, your puppy can’t hold their bladder for more than about one to three hours. And, until they’ve had their vaccinations and received the go-ahead from their vet, going outside isn’t recommended. So, potty training during the first three months should focus on getting your dog on a consistent schedule, establishing cues, and teaching your puppy to use a pee pad.
- Three to five months. The older your pup gets, the longer they’ll be able to hold their bladder. And, the quicker they’ll learn to associate going outside with a special reward. Still, it may not be until another few weeks or months until a puppy at this age is truly housebroken. You should expect a few accidents until your dog gets a little bit older.
- Six months and older. By the time your pup is six months old, they should be able to get through pretty long stretches without going to the bathroom. If you’re able to focus on consistent potty training at this age, you can expect to be free of the puppy pads in a matter of days or weeks.
In the best case scenario, a puppy can be mostly house-trained by the time they’re about 6 months old.
How long does it take to potty train a puppy if you don’t work from home?
Age is the first consideration when estimating how long it will take to housetrain your dog. But, your own involvement is the other, equally important, factor.
As we’ll cover in detail in a moment, potty training requires you to be there to take your pup out frequently and reward them for doing their business outside. The quickest and most effective potty training happens when you take your puppy out multiple times per day.
If you’re away for long stretches or home at inconsistent times, the reality is, the process will take longer. Stay patient, though! Your pup will understand eventually.
How can you go about potty training a puppy?
The basic mechanics of potty training a puppy are quite simple. You are going to reward your puppy for doing their business outside. But, of course, there’s a little more to it than that. Here are a few other tips to potty train a dog:
- Get your puppy on a predictable schedule. Puppies thrive in predictability! But beyond that, having a consistent schedule will allow you to anticipate when your puppy will need to go to the bathroom. Every dog is different, but typically your puppy will need to go: first thing in the morning, after meals, after naps, and after play. You’ll also want to get into the habit of taking him out for a potty break before bed.
- Take your dog out, a lot! During the first few days of training, you’ll want to take your dog out frequently throughout the day, even up to hourly. This will ensure that they go to the bathroom at least a few times outside every day, and that you’ll be able to reward them when they do!
- Visit the same toilet tree, or wherever they most like to go. Dogs typically like to relieve themselves in the same area. And choosing a dedicated potty area has the added bonus of creating an association for your dog. In their mind, visiting a certain part of the lawn will mean potty time.
- Set up a verbal cue. Not many Owners think of setting up a verbal cue for going potty (after all, potty talk in public isn’t exactly appealing), but it can drive home the training for your dog. Every time your dog goes to the bathroom, you’re going to say the cue multiple times in a relaxed, neutral voice. Eventually, your dog will associate the cue with doing their business, and you won’t have to say it more than once.
- Go overboard with the praise. When your puppy finishes doing their business outside, you want to praise them within a few seconds. Smother them with treats, verbal encouragement, playtime, whatever they most respond to. It will make you feel odd at first, but the more you can make your puppy feel like a rockstar for going potty outside, the closer you are to being done with potty training!
- Try to catch accidents, but don’t punish them. Over time, you’ll start to notice your puppy’s pre-potty habits, such as sniffing or going to a certain part of the house. If possible, leash ‘em up and get them outside before they go. In the case that you don’t immediately catch them, you may be able to interrupt them with a redirection, such as “uh oh” or “no no.” This shouldn’t be overly startling, but it might give you enough time to get them outside before they start doing their business. In the case that you miss the deed entirely, don’t punish your dog or acknowledge that they went in the house. By the time you’ve noticed their accident, your puppy has probably forgotten about it, so redirection efforts will be unhelpful.
- Clean up messes immediately. As we mentioned, dogs like to go potty in the same place, and they’ll pick a spot in your home if you’re not meticulous about cleaning up messes as they happen. If you have carpeting or rugs in your home, you’ll want to stock up on specialised cleaning supplies before you bring your puppy home to make potty training easier.
Should you crate train your puppy for potty training?
Many Owners find that crate training speeds up the potty training process. This is because dogs typically don’t want to go potty in the area where they sleep and relax.
That said, there are a few crate mistakes that could slow down the potty training process. Leaving a puppy in a crate for longer than they can hold their bladder, for instance, will likely result in an accident, even if your pup didn’t give any signs. Puppies may also go potty inside their crate if it’s too large.
Some dog breeds will whiz through potty training in no time. Others will take longer than the average three to six month time frame.
Small dogs, in particular, are harder to potty train because it can be difficult to contend with such a tiny bladder. And, there are some larger dog breeds whose independent spirit makes them less than engaged in the potty training process. That’s not to say that they can’t be potty trained! It will just take a bit longer to complete the process.
Here are a few breeds who typically take longer to be house trained:
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Afghan Hound
- Basset Hound
So, how long does it take to potty train a puppy from the above dog breeds? It can be hard to put an exact number on it. While the average dog is fully potty trained around 6 months of age, a dog struggling with the transition may take a few extra weeks or months.
Still struggling with training?
If you’ve been working on potty training for a few weeks with no improvement, don’t worry. You’re not destined to use the potty pads forever. But, there are a few other reasons that could be behind your dog’s behaviour:
- Separation anxiety. Some puppies who struggle with alone time will go potty in the house out of stress. If your pup tends to do their business when you’re not at home, while also engaging in chewing, howling or digging behaviours, they might need a solution to their separation anxiety before they can be fully house trained.
- A medical condition. If your puppy’s frequent indoor accidents are concerning you, make sure to get your vet’s opinion. It’s possible that a bladder infection or other medical issue is behind their inability to learn potty training.
So how long does it take to potty train a puppy? It depends!
While there are many factors that will determine exactly when you can say goodbye to the puppy pads, most puppers are fully house trained by the time they’re about 6 months old. That said, it’s not uncommon for puppies to have the occasional accident inside until they’re about a year old. And of course, there are some puppers who will just take a little longer to get with the program!
Potty training isn’t the easiest thing about Puppy Ownership. But, just like taking your pup to the vet, signing up for pet insurance, and choosing the right dog food, potty training comes with the territory of puppy life! The important thing is to stick with it, stay positive, and provide your pup with plenty of praise and patience!
Are you an experienced Puppy Parent? How long does it take to potty train a puppy in your experience? Let us know your tips and tricks!