Puppy Potty Training Schedule for the First-time Dog Parent - PetPlace (2023)

Congratulations! You’re a new puppy parent. It’s fun! It’s exciting! It can be a little overwhelming.

Take potty training. One of the first things a new puppy parent wants to know is “How do I house train my new puppy?”

My sister recently became a new puppy parent. It turns out her puppy training schedule is much like a human newborn. As in, she and her family are taking turns taking the puppy out for bathroom breaks throughout the day and night.

Consistency is one of the most important parts of training your puppy. When you get your new puppy on a consistent schedule, you can reward him or her for good behavior. Frequent potty breaks instill good habits.

Yet, there are many things new puppy parents don’t know about how to house train their puppies. In those first weeks and months, it’s common to have a lot of questions.

For example, you may wonder how often you need to take your puppy out for potty breaks. What’s a typical potty-training schedule?

Fortunately, there are common truths based on your puppy’s biology.

Puppy Potty Training Expectations

Let’s say you adopt a puppy at the age of 9 weeks. That’s an early age to expect them to be house trained. A lot depends on the puppy’s size and how early you start their potty training. Many puppies can be pretty dependable by six months. Yet, some puppies might take up to a year to be fully house trained.

In general, most puppies start having bladder control at around 20 weeks, which is 5 months of age. Yet, it can take longer for your puppy to be fully house trained.

It’s normal for your puppy to have frequent or occasional accidents in the house when you start potty training. But with patience, consistency, and plenty of praise, you’ll be able to achieve your goal within a few months.

(Video) 10 Puppy Essentials | PetPlace.com

One key to successful potty training is to keep your puppy confined. Whether a dog crate, playpen, or section of your kitchen or laundry room, it’s easier to clean up accidents if you know where they are.

Young Puppies Have Physical Limitations

Young puppies have small bladders. Think about a puppy 3 or 4 months of age;they have a time limit on how long they can hold their urine. The younger they are, the less control they have over the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine. This means, they’ll need more frequent “bathroom breaks.”

There’s a formula for estimating the number of hours a puppy can hold their urine. The formula is the puppy’s age in months +1 or N +1. “N” is the puppy’s age. For example, once your pup is potty-trained, a 3-month-old puppy should be able to hold its urine for around 4 hours. That’s if you’ve been potty training and your pup is starting to make the connection. Otherwise, your pup may not make the connection.

Now, some puppy parents use dog crates for their puppies. In theory, this can help with puppy potty training because puppies don’t want to soil their living space. Yet, you still need to adhere to the N +1 rule to help your puppy develop good habits and stay happy and healthy.

Sample Schedule for a 3-Month-Old Puppy

Let’s take the idea that a 3-month-old puppy can hold their urine for up to 4 hours. In that case, you’ll want to plan your house training schedule around potty breaks every four hours.
You do want to have a plan and maintain a consistent schedule. That and plenty of praise will make potty training a positive experience for your puppy.

At the beginning of the day, it is important to take the puppy outside first thing. If you wait, you risk an accident. Choose the same area for potty time so your puppy learns to associate it with bathroom breaks.

You’ll want to keep your puppy on a leash as well. That way, they don’t run in the opposite direction and risk getting hurt. Some dog trainers recommend using a specific command too. For example, the late, great Barbara Woodhouse popularized the expression, “Hurry up,” as the verbal cue. Though others have used words like, “Make,” or even “Poopies.”

One way you encourage your puppy to use the same area every time is by sense of smell. Use a small piece of newspaper or cloth with the scent of urine on it to show them the right place.

Bathroom breaks need to be frequent. Let’s say you had a successful mission at 7 a.m. and you’re wondering when your next potty break should be. For a 3-month-old puppy, 11 a.m. would be the latest. Yet, if you’re just starting out your potty training, you’ll want to go out more frequently. In the first few weeks, you may discover that every hour or two is better.

As your puppy gets used to the potty breaks, then every three hours is appropriate. For example, 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11 p.m. are optimal. However, that doesn’t mean your puppy can hold it all night.


A puppy 3-months of age will probably not be able to make it through the night without a trip outside. Setting the alarm for 3:00 a.m. may be the only way to stop the puppy from soiling the house at night. Thankfully, this stage of puppyhood doesn’t last long. (Clickhere for advice on paper-training your puppy.)

Your pup should ALSO go out 10 or 15 minutes after each meal. Eating stimulates the gastrocolic reflex, which means they’ll feel the urge to go right after a meal. Note that different puppies will have slightly different times after eating where they’ll feel the urge to go to the bathroom.

You’ll also want to take your pup outside when they transition from one activity to another. For example, when they wake up after a nap is a key time, or when they have finished a round of play. So, if you’re playing games inside with your puppy, you’ll want to take them outside after. Then, you can put them back in the crate or playpen and feel confident.

4 Typical Puppy Potty Training Situations

1. What to Do if Your Puppy’s “Bathroom Run” Is Successful

“Yay!” Praise your puppy with enthusiasm. Puppies respond with wagging tails and wriggling butts when they know you’re happy with them. Make sure you make potty training a positive experience.

The best time to reward your puppy is as soon as they potty in the right place. Don’t be shy about showing your happiness either. Clap your hands, jump up and down, sing to your pup, whatever makes it feel like a positive experience for your dog.

You can also pet your obedient puppy like you mean it and give them a morsel of delicious food as a reward. This is all-powerful positive reinforcement for a job well done.

2. What to Do if Your Puppy’s “Bathroom Run” Is Unsuccessful

Confinement is the name of the game if a trip outside proves to be a dry run. This is especially important when you know it’s been two or three hours since the last trip outside. There are four ways you can help your puppy get on the right track.

  • Put the puppy in a dog crate.
  • Confine your puppy in the kitchen or laundry room.
  • Put the puppy in a puppy pen.
  • Finally, there is so-called “umbilical cord training.” This is where you use a lead to attach the puppy to you. You can attach it to a belt loop. This way, the puppy can’t stray from you and it’s easier to keep an eye on them.

Such confinement should last about 15 minutes. Then, you take the puppy outside for another potty break.

It also helps with potty training to keep your puppy feeding schedule consistent.

3. What to Do if Your Puppy Has an Accident Inside

Accidents happen. Please do not punish your puppy for having an accident inside the house. Dog trainers will tell you that part of having a puppy is that you have to watch them all the time. Then, you’ll learn to appreciate the subtle signs the puppy gives when they need to go potty. For example, circling and sniffing the ground are classic signs.

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You’ll be able to escort them outside before they pee inside. If you’re not quick enough, then try to make a loud noise and distract the puppy. This can cause a muscle contraction and you can get the puppy outside and to the right place.

Then praise the puppy when they finish in the right spot. You can use an odor neutralizer to clean the area inside, which will help with the smell.

Then, note the time and make sure to get back on schedule. (Clickhere for tips on dealing with accidents.)

4. What to Do If You Have to Leave Your Puppy for Longer Than They Can Hold Their Urine

This is tough. If you have to leave a puppy for longer than they can hold they urine, they’ll likely have an accident. You’ll be disappointed, the puppy will be upset, and it’ll set you back on the housebreaking schedule.

Can you bring the puppy with you? If not, do you have a trusted person who can help with potty training and keep the schedule consistent?

If you have to leave the house for 2 or 3 hours, then you can confine the puppy in a small area. By confining them in a crate or gated area, you’re creating a “home” and puppies don’t want to soil in their home. Anything over 2 to 3 hours is tempting fate. Plus, there’s a danger to puppies who continuously have to hold their urine beyond their comfort level. This tempts a urinary tract infection that is painful and requires antibiotics.

Some new puppy parents find pee pads to be helpful while potty training. With pee pads, you’re training your puppy to go in a specific location. You put them in an accessible area for your pup and treat it like the right place for potty training.

Again, you’ll need to use lots of praise to train your puppy. Pee pads can be useful if you live in a high-rise building. They’re also useful if you have extreme weather in your area where it’s not always safe to go outside.

Housebreaking Older Puppies

Have you adopted a slightly older puppy that’s not yet housebroken? For example, puppies in the 4 – 7 month age group are maturing, but they’ll still need a consistent schedule for potty training.

The good news is that the time interval between trips can be longer. If you follow the N +1 formula for a 5-month-old puppy, then you’re looking at around five hours in-between bathroom breaks. That’s a bit of an easier schedule for you as a pet parent.

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Your puppy will still need to go out first thing in the morning. Then again at lunchtime, in the later afternoon, early evening, and before bedtime. Then, they’ll need a bathroom break following mealtimes and as the puppy transitions to another activity.

Older puppies should be able to hold their urine through the night for at least five or six hours. However, confinement is still a good idea toprevent early morning accidents. You don’t want an untrained puppy to have free access to your whole house. Instead, you can use the crate, pen, or confinement them to a room.

Conclusion: Invest the Time House Training Your Puppy Now for Future Happiness

House training a puppy is like potty training an infant. The more time and attention you invest upfront, the quicker you’ll have a potty-trained puppy.

Your investment of time early in the puppy’s life will save you energy and aggravation in the long run. House training a puppy requires a consistent house-training schedule. Frequent potty breaks and lots of praise will help you raise a confident and happy dog.

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What is the best puppy potty schedule? ›

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking. Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot.

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

It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside.

How do I get my puppy to stop peeing and pooping in the house? ›

Here are some ways you can deal with your housetraining woes:
  3. GET STARTED. ...

How long should you wait outside for your puppy to pee at night? ›

Delaying their potty break by 15 minutes every night will teach them to wait a little longer to do their business, eventually turning it into a morning routine. Once your puppy is three or four months old, they will most likely be able to go the full night (7 to 8 hours) without a toilet break.

What is the 10 minute rule for puppies? ›

Let me introduce you to the 10 , 10, 10 rule of potty training. That's cycles of 10 minutes in the yard, 10 feet of potty area in the yard, 10 minutes of supervision. It all adds up to potty training with minimal errors, even for harder to train dogs who may be struggling with other methods.

How long can 12 week puppy hold pee at night? ›

Remember, dogs and especially puppies need to urinate often. As a guideline, new puppies up to 10 weeks old typically can't hold their bladder for more than an hour. Dogs between 10 to 12 weeks old can usually hold it for around two hours.

Should I carry my puppy out to pee? ›

Teach your pup to potty on a designated spot outdoors, making him think. After you bring home your new puppy the first thing you need to teach the pup is to walk to the door. Do not carry it.

What is the hardest dog to potty train? ›

What is the Hardest Dog to Potty Train?
  • Dachshund. Dachshunds are smart but stubborn. ...
  • Bichon Frise. As a toy breed, the Bichon Frise is an adorable dog — that is, when they're not having an accident on your carpet. ...
  • Dalmatian. ...
  • Jack Russell Terrier. ...
  • Afghan Hound. ...
  • Pomeranian.

How many puppy pads should I put down? ›

In the beginning, we suggest covering a wider area with 3-4 potty pads until your puppy learns how to target the pad more precisely. Important note: Although you can leave potty pads in your puppy's playpen to absorb any accidents they may have, this on its own won't potty train your puppy.

Why does my puppy poop in the house after going outside? ›

Your dog may be pooping inside because something outdoors scares them or makes them anxious. Some dogs have a more nervous personality, and loud sounds such as vehicles passing by, dogs barking, thunder, people shouting, or other loud noises can contribute to fear and anxiety.

Does rubbing your dogs nose in pee work? ›

Punishing your dog by rubbing their nose in urine is an ineffective and outdated method that can cause more harm than good. Dogs are much more likely to learn and respond to positive reinforcement, rather than punishment.

What smell repels dogs from pooping? ›

Something that is generally very effective is vinegar – dogs seem to hate the pungent, acrid smell of vinegar, and its application in a few strategic locations may do the job. Another popular – although sometimes controversial – option is cayenne pepper or strong chili powder.

What not to do when potty training a puppy? ›

Don't: Punish Your Puppy

So when accidents happen, as they inevitably do, don't rub your puppy's face in it, yell or threaten him in any way. You'll only succeed in scaring him and he may just find a more out-of-the-way spot to go in the future. Remember, dogs don't eliminate in the home out of spite.

How long should you sleep in the same room as your puppy? ›

Sleep in the same room for the first few nights.

For the first few nights, your puppy will need time to adjust to being without their mum. Wherever you decide to settle them in your house, it's a good idea to spend the first few nights in the same room with them so they don't wake up in a panic because no-one is there.

What is the fading puppy syndrome? ›

Fading puppy syndrome (or fading puppy complex) is when a puppy dies within the first few weeks of life without a clear cause of death or clinical signs, that is to say, they fail to thrive. Death usually occurs within the first five days of life, but can happen up to ten weeks of age.

What is the puppy 3 second rule? ›

When dogs don't feel able to move away – which they may not when in physical contact with us – they may resort to telling us to back off in less desirable ways. Give dogs a way of “opting in” to social contact by using the “3-second rule” of petting. Pet for no more than three seconds, then stop.

How many hours a day should a puppy be caged? ›

Puppies under 6 months of age shouldn't stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can't control their bladders or bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs being housetrained. Crate your dog until they are able to be alone in the house without accidents or destructive habits.

Should I lock my puppy in his crate at night? ›

Crate training is necessary for when your canine is a puppy—sleeping in a crate at night teaches puppies how to control their bladder and bowels since they don't like to relieve themselves in the same space that they sleep. Kennels are also excellent for the times that no one can be home to supervise your new puppy.

Can I leave puppy in crate while at work? ›

How long is too long to leave a dog in a crate? Leaving a puppy alone while at work for 8 hours is unacceptable. You can leave a puppy in a crate for a maximum of 5 hours straight, depending on their age. Adult dogs can handle up to 8 hours of confinement, but it shouldn't be an everyday thing.

How do I leave my puppy alone for the first time? ›

Begin by closing your puppy in the confinement area with a chew toy or other constructive activity, then quietly walk out of the room. Return immediately and reward them with praise and a treat. Repeat the process, slowly increasing how long you're away each time.

How do puppies decide where to pee? ›

Both male and female dogs scent mark, but the behavior is more pervasive in males. Dogs who are marking preferentially urinate on vertical surfaces. If they urinate high up on that surface, the urine can flow downward covering a greater area, which leaves a stronger message to anyone who subsequently passes by.

Are boy or girl dogs easier to potty train? ›

Female dogs are often said to be easier to house train than male dogs. "Many pet owners report that female dogs are easier to house train and are more attentive to their owners than male dogs, with male dogs being more aloof," Johanna Reel, registered vet technician for NHV Natural Pet, told INSIDER.

Are boy dogs harder to potty train? ›

Are boy dogs easier to potty train? No, both males and female puppies are the same when it comes to potty-training. There is no difference in their gender. Some dogs are easier to potty-train than others, but this mostly comes down to size and breed.

Are some dogs just not potty trainable? ›

Through no fault of their own, some pet dogs reach adulthood without being fully house trained. Fortunately, with time and patience, it is possible to establish new habits and teach your dog to stay clean in the house.

How do you attract a dog to pee in one spot? ›

One of the easiest ways to train a dog to go only in one spot is to train it to go on command. Take your dog on a leash to the spot you want it to use, and say the cue word. Keep the dog in that spot until it goes, then offer a reward. Only reward the dog when it goes in that particular spot.

What can I use instead of pee pads? ›

17 Aug Beyond wee-wee pads: 4 easy indoor pottying options for city dogs
  • Fresh Patch Grass delivery. The Fresh Patch is fresh grass shipped to you by subscription. ...
  • Dog Litter. A litter box or litter pan is a staple in most cat owners' homes, but dogs can use them too! ...
  • Dog diapers. ...
  • Cinder blocks.
Aug 16, 2016

What do you put under pee pads? ›

What To Put Under Pee Pads? We recommend having them on a hard surface like hardwood that is easy to clean if the pee pads leak. You could also put the pee pad on a small, inexpensive rug that you can wash if need be (which might help the pads from sliding around too).

What is dirty dog syndrome? ›

Many pups will have an accident in their crate when they can not hold it any longer but what about the dog that actually goes to the bathroom in the crate even when they can hold it for a longer period of time? That dog is not offended by peeing or pooping in its area. That is called Dirty Dog Syndrome!

Should you punish your dog for pooping in the house? ›

You should not punish a dog for pooping in the house, aside from a firm “no” if you actually catch your dog in the act. Dogs can't understand the concept of punishment in the same way that humans do. Yelling, hitting, or physically punishing a dog can cause fear, anxiety, and even aggression.

Why does my puppy pee right after coming inside? ›

The reason puppies hold on outside and then pee immediately once they get back in is that the house is their happy place and the yard is not. As soon as they come inside, their parasympathetic tone increases and only then do they feel the urge to urinate. Your job is simple in theory: make outside a happy place too.

How long should I wait to take my dog out to poop after eating? ›

The best thing to do is to follow this general rule: At least 30 minutes after a small snack. 1 hour after a small meal. 2 to 3 hours after a medium/large meal.

What gets rid of dog pee smell? ›

Baking soda, vinegar, and enzymatic cleaners are all effective at removing the odor. In some cases, you may want to avoid steam cleaning fabrics, as it can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.

Why do dogs sniff to find a spot to go to the bathroom? ›

It's About Communication and Territory

You know the drill…the sniffing, the circling, and finally, it happens. This process of determining where to poop has much to do with your dog's instinct to tell other dogs who and where they are. They leave their scent by way of scent glands located in the inside of the rectum.

What can I mop my floor with to stop my dog from peeing on it? ›

Vinegar. Just like citrus, dogs cannot stand the smell of vinegar. It seems that a dog's heightened sense of smell is not keen on acidic smells, vinegar being another very acidic substance. It is worth noting that dogs are more repelled by the smell of vinegar than they are by lemons and oranges.

What smell do dogs love? ›

The methodology of observing the dogs freely exploring the experimental area allowed us to determine the smells that were the most attractive to them (food, beaver clothing). Our study shows that dogs interacted more frequently with the scents of blueberries, blackberries, mint, rose, lavender, and linalol.

How do you housebreak a puppy in 5 days? ›

Step-by-Step Guide For House Training Puppy In 5 Days
  1. Step 1: Start the Training. The first is to start with the actual house training practice. ...
  2. Step 2: Putting Them In Their Box or Kennel. ...
  3. Step 3: Maintain Proper Schedule. ...
  4. Step 4: Keep Noticing Their Habits and Don't Give Up!

Which dog is easiest to potty train? ›

15 Easiest Dog Breeds to Potty Train
  1. Border Collie. Border Collies are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, making it easier for them to understand instructions and training. ...
  2. German Shepherd. ...
  3. Labrador Retriever. ...
  4. Australian Shepherd. ...
  5. Maltese. ...
  6. Shiba Inu. ...
  7. Standard Poodle. ...
  8. Miniature Schnauzer.

Can you train a dog to use pee pads and go outside? ›

When your dog goes to the pad to eliminate, quickly pick him up and bring him outside. For some dogs, it is helpful if you bring the pad outside as well so that they can better understand what you are trying to communicate. While your dog is eliminating, pick a phrase like “potty time” or “do your thing” and repeat it.

Should you sleep in same room as puppy? ›

Some people are happy to have their dog sleep in their bedroom. For others, it's important that their dog sleep in another room. We recommend at least having them in your bedroom with you in the beginning in either a dog bed or crate. Having your puppy in your bedroom with you will make them feel more reassured.

What is the first thing you should train your puppy? ›

The first things a puppy needs to learn are basic manners, his name, potty training, and not to bite your hands with those sharp teeth. A puppy needs to learn socialization skills, including people, places, and things.

What time should a puppy go to bed? ›

But in all honesty, there's no 'right time' for a puppy to go to sleep, as long as it's the same every night. While this may be the case, do note that your puppy will need, on average, around 8-10 hours of sleep per night.

What are the cue words for puppy toilet training? ›

A simple diary list will do. Repeat cue words like 'wee wees' and 'poo poos' or 'be busy' and 'be clean' while the puppy is actually urinating or defecating. Use different words for each action so that you will be able to prompt the puppy later on.

Why does my puppy poop in the house after being outside? ›

Your dog may be pooping inside because something outdoors scares them or makes them anxious. Some dogs have a more nervous personality, and loud sounds such as vehicles passing by, dogs barking, thunder, people shouting, or other loud noises can contribute to fear and anxiety.

How many times a day should a puppy poop and pee? ›

For new puppy parents, expect your puppy to poop around five times a day. As your puppy grows and becomes an adult doggy, with the help of a schedule and routine, frequency will taper off to one to three times a day, depending on your dog. However, it's not just quantity that matters, it's also quality!

How many times a day should a puppy go potty? ›

It is not uncommon for a puppy to defecate 5-6 times per day. Some will eliminate even more frequently. The good news is that the pace of pooping will slow down as the dog matures. Although a 2-week-old puppy may defecate at every feeding, by 12 weeks, they may be down to only 4 times per day.

How do you punish your dog for peeing in the house? ›

Punish quickly.

Punish your dog as soon as possible, either during or immediately after you catch him in the act (do not hit him though as this will just make him fearful). This should curb or end his behavior. However, it is just as important to praise and/or reward him when he pees in the right place.

What is the quickest way to toilet train a puppy? ›

Give your dog plenty of opportunities to go to the toilet in an appropriate place. Take them out when they wake up, after every meal, after playtime, before bed, before you leave them and when you come back, and then every 45 minutes.

How soon after eating does a puppy poop? ›

Another built-in plus when it comes to housebreaking is our puppy's digestive tract, which is extremely quick and efficient. Five to 30 minutes after the puppy eats, she'll want to defecate. So with a consistent eating schedule, and your attention to the clock, your puppy can maintain regular trips outside.

How long after eating do dogs poop? ›

How Long After Eating Does a Dog Poop? Most dogs will poop about 30 minutes after eating, or immediately after waking up. These are both great times to plan walks or exercise for your dog.

Do puppies pee and poop right away? ›


Most puppies eat three to four meals a day while they're growing and they'll have to pee and poop after each meal. For younger dogs, wait about 20 minutes after a meal to take him outside to potty.

Do puppies know where to pee? ›

Your puppy will start to sniff the floor to search for an area to pee or poop. Sniffing may happen inside the house if your puppy has previously soiled in a given area. With a powerful sniffer, dogs can find previously soiled areas, which inform them where the "bathroom area" is located.


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