Bulldog puppy peeing.

How Long Does It Take To Toilet Train A Puppy?

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

It’s probably safe to say that no person on Earth would disagree with the statement that all puppies are adorable. However, when you introduce one of those cute fluffballs into your home you start to realise that they come with their own set of challenges too.

Getting a puppy to understand and respect the rules of living in a house can seem like an impossible task. These little hyperactive creatures sometimes just don’t seem to get it. But here are some words of consolation: with enough patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement, you will be able to do it.

And today, we are going to talk about the most important training task of every new pet parent: toilet training. How and when does one start with this? How long does it take to toilet train a puppy? Keep reading and find out!


How Long to Toilet Train a Puppy?

Ok, so let’s answer the question straight away. How long does puppy toilet training take? Well, just like with most questions we answer here at GDT, it’s difficult to give you a straightforward answer. As you know, dogs are individuals, and there is so much diversity in their characteristics, sizes, and temperaments, that it's extremely difficult to make any statements about all dogs in general.

Related: When Can Puppies Go Outside?

However, as for toilet training, a conservative estimate would be 4 - 6 months. If you google “puppy toilet training” right now, you are bound to find some results that will tell you that you can ‘toilet train a puppy in 7 days’ or ‘house-break a puppy in 5 days’, but don’t let these pretty headlines fool you.

Related: The Best Dog Grass Toilets.

You might be able to introduce the concept of peeing outside to your pup within a week, but you are most likely not going to get consistent results that fast. So don’t let that discourage you and just be patient with your new canine companion.

Related: Enzyme Cleaners For Dog Pee.

There are also individual differences that can help you predict how long it will take to toilet train your puppy:

Size & Breed

Not all puppies are created equal, and for some, it can simply be harder to hold in the pee, even if they want to.

“Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside.” - Julie Edgar, FETCH by WebMD (1)

Small pups might need to go potty so frequently during the first couple of months of their life, that potty training might seem impossible. This can be mitigated to an extent by taking them out very frequently, but if you are not always on standby, potty training will take a bit longer.

Age & Old Habits

The same thing we said about smaller puppies is also true for younger ones: they simply can’t hold it for long enough or aren’t even aware they can do it.

The best case scenario is to start potty training your puppy early (even if the success rate seems very low), but sometimes it is not feasible. If your puppy was older than usual when introduced to your home, and not potty trained, it might take longer to get them used to the concept.

Some people might even end up having an older rescue that simply isn’t potty trained. Let that not discourage you - even old dogs can be taught new tricks, but the process might be longer and more frustrating.


What Age Should a Puppy Be Toilet Trained?

The best time to start potty training your puppy is as soon as they get into your home. You can start slowly introducing the concept of going potty in a designated area. Whether that will be outdoors or not will depend on your living situation and setup, since, as you probably know, puppies really shouldn’t be socialized with other dogs before they get their full course of shots.

So, yes, you can start potty training a puppy even at 8 weeks of age, but don’t expect great results immediately.

“Remember, puppies can’t control their bladder until they’re about 16 weeks old. After that, they can only hold their bladder for the same number of hours as the number of months of their age plus one. So, a four-month-old puppy can only hold it for five hours. Expecting your puppy to wait too long for a bathroom break will lead to an accident.” - Stephany Gibeault, AKC (2)

That means that very young puppies will need to be taken out to go potty very frequently. So don’t be discouraged by failures and take it easy until your pup can hold it long enough.


How Do You Stop a Puppy from Peeing and Pooping in the House?

The only way to stop a puppy from peeing in the house permanently is by going through the complete potty training process. Having a set location where potty training is allowed and staying consistent and on schedule will do a lot to help the process.

If you catch your puppy starting to pee indoors, it is important not to yell and make a big fuss. This can create wrong associations and make the puppy scared of you and peeing in general. What you do want to do is get the puppy’s attention, for example, by clapping or using a word like ‘hey!’ (preferably not the puppies name) to stop them and promptly take the pup outside.

If your puppy has been going potty in your home already, for whatever reason, deodorizing your house might help break their habit.


Dealing With Potty Training Setbacks

If you are wondering how long exactly will potty training a puppy take, you might already be getting frustrated. But, as we already said, patience and consistency are the only way forward in this process. There is a right way to potty train a puppy, and that is with positive reinforcement.

Related: How To Stop My Dog From Peeing On The Bed.

That means, no matter how annoying it gets, refrain from punishing your dog for going potty indoors. If you see evidence of the act, but not the puppy doing it, do not be tempted to yell and rub the puppy’s nose in what they made. This method is outdated and won’t teach a puppy anything except to fear you.

Just pay attention to your puppy and try to work together to establish healthy routines.

References

  1. Edgar, J. June 14, 2020. “House Training Your Puppy”. FETCH by WebMD. Retrieved October 11, 2022. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/house-training-your-puppy
  2. Gibeault, S. January 20, 2021. “Why Does My Puppy Pee in the House?”. AKC. Retrieved October 11, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/puppy-information/why-does-my-puppy-keep-peeing-in-the-house/

Vedrana Nikolic


Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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