How Early Can You Potty Train a Puppy?

Puppy messes eliminate the joy of having a pet. And naturally, potty training is the first thing that comes to your mind when you bring your new pet home.

Yes, house training, housebreaking, or potty training – whatever you call it is the prime aim for all new pet owners. Without it, your new pet may welcome you with ‘accidents’ here and there – creating a problematic situation for you all!

Understanding the Basics of Elimination

Up until about two weeks of age, puppies need stimulation to go to the bathroom. At this age, they are usually with their mothers, who gently lick their lower abdomen along with anal regions to stimulate their bowels.

However, after some time, their bodies begin to understand the concept of ‘elimination,’ and they begin going on their own.

When to Begin House Training Puppy?

While you can start taking your puppy outside for elimination as soon as you bring him home, experts recommend waiting for the little fellow to turn around eight weeks to start the training protocol. Most puppies can understand rules and routines at this age, so the learning period becomes easy for them.

However, they retain full control of their bladder by the age of 12 and 16 weeks. And at this age, you can fully expect the pet to sleep through the night, provided that you have started training him early on and following the housebreaking guidelines consistently.

Generally, puppies take around 4 – 6 months to be fully house trained. But some puppies may take up to a year and depend on your efforts.

Size is another predictor for the training period. For example, dog breeds smaller in size have smaller bladder and higher metabolism, so they require frequent bathroom breaks.

How Long Can Puppies Hold It?

As a general rule of thumb, most pet experts agree that a puppy can hold its urine for the number of hours that corresponds with its age in months – plus one. For example, you have an eight-week-old puppy, and you can expect it to hold its pee for around three hours.

Once a puppy reaches six months, he should be able to control their bladder for as long as an adult dog – nine hours.

However, wait until your pet is fully trained to leave him alone for this many hours. While you are training, start with a gap of one hour only and gradually increase the hours according to your pet’s age until you are confident that your pet can control their bladder and eliminate at the right place.

Getting Started

To make housetraining easy for you and the dog, maintain a strict schedule. Start with a consistent eating schedule to maintain your puppy’s trips outside. In most cases, puppies want to defecate five to thirty minutes after each meal, so make sure to take him out after they have finished their meal immediately.

Set alarms throughout the day and take your puppy outside to the same area every hour or so to eliminate the chances of him having an accident. Take him outside first thing in the morning and before turning in for the night as well.

It’s also important that you reward good behavior every time your puppy has successfully gone outside. Give him a treat, a pat on the back, or an extra round around the neighborhood to get the message across a job well done.

Signs That Your Puppy Needs To Go

Learning to recognize the signs that indicate your pup needs to go can also help ease the potty training process. These signs include sniffing at the ground for many dogs, whining, barking, or walking around in a circle. Your dog may also pace around the door or scratch it to let him out.

If you see your pet exhibiting any of these signs – take him out immediately.

Prepare for Setbacks

Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old. Be prepared for these setbacks and take it as a lesson to help you better understand your puppy and enhance your efforts.

When your puppy does have an accident, keep on training. Avoid punishing or scolding your pet as it will create a negative association with his body functions. Instead, stay calm and quickly remove him from the area he has had an accident and take him to the place you want him to go.

Other reasons for accidents include incomplete house training or a change in the environment. A health issue can also be present if you cannot adequately train your puppy within a four to six month period. In case you suspect anything unusual, consult your pup’s veterinarian to rule out medical issues.


As overwhelming as it may sound, potty training a puppy is not such a bad endeavor if you start at the right time – and remain consistent with your efforts! Good luck, and let us know your experience with housebreaking a young pup.

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