Puppies have small bladders that lack control. They're able to hold it for a moment, but when they have to go, they have to go now. The same is true for going poop, they can hold it somewhat, but their little bodies haven't matured enough to allow them to hold it for long.
As a general rule of thumb, dogs can hold their bladder for the number of hours of their age in months. For example, a 2 month old puppy may be able to hold urine or feces for up to 2 hours. This general guideline can go up to about nine months, but think about if you had to hold out on going to the bathroom for 9 hours. A reasonable limit is about six hours at six months old, anything more than 6 hours for any age dog is difficult.
Remember, this is only a general guideline, and you may still be asking, “How do you house train a puppy?”
Don’t worry, it is not as hard as you think. Let’s look at some ways to help your puppy hold out for their proper 'potty times' and achieve house training success.
Create a puppy house training schedule
Developing a routine is critical not only for puppies, but for our adult dogs as well. Routines allow puppies and adult dogs to know what to expect and when to expect it.
As far as puppies go, you should learn to observe your puppy’s individual habits. By understanding your puppy’s body language and habits, you should be able to get a feel for when he has to go outside. With young puppies, you should expect to give her a potty break (and make this a routine) during the following times:
- As soon as she wakes up in the morning
- Directly before she goes to sleep at night
- After a play session
- After any amount of time spent in the crate
- When waking from nap time
- After eating and drinking
Puppies are a lot of work and this is a lot of time spent outside letting her do her duty. If you have to work during the day, it’s a good idea to hire a dog walker or dog sitter to aid you in the potty training process. If this isn’t done properly as a young puppy, you’ll be having a more difficult time with more pee and more feces as your puppy grows.
Use a crate for house training your puppy
Many dog lovers who are new to puppy training are uncomfortable with the concept of restricting their puppies in a crate, but this reluctance generally fades after learning more about the benefits of having a crate in the home. Crates can make appointment time, travel, and bed/nap-time easier on both the puppy parent and the puppy.
Dogs are naturally den animals, and whether they have a crate or not, will likely seek out some area of your home to call their own. That area will serve as their sanctuary. But, since they are den animals, they are generally more than willing to go in their crate (as long as they aren't stuck in there for long periods of time).
Not only do crates provide dogs with a sense of security, they also aid in the potty training process. Dogs are clean animals and don't like having urine or feces in the area where they relax or sleep. That being said, with too much room in their crate, they may feel comfortable going potty in the corner away from their designated sanctuary area. The crate should be just large enough for your puppy to lie down, stand up, and turn around. Most crates today have partitions which will allow you to adjust the size of the crate as your puppy grows.
If your puppy is in her crate when she gets the urge to go potty, she will likely begin whining and scratching at her crate. That's your 'green light' to take her outside. Don't wait, take her as soon as she lets you know she has to go. Waiting and allowing her to have an accident in her crate will make her think it's acceptable to soil where she needs to.
Refrain from scolding and punishment
Scolding a dog for soiling your carpeting, especially after it's happened, isn't likely to make her associate the soiling with the scolding, but instead more likely to result in extreme damage to the bond you share together and a lot of distrust.
Praising your puppy for doing the right thing, on the other hand, and not paying her any attention when she doesn't, has been shown to work best when potty-training a puppy. Every time she goes potty where she's supposed to, make a big deal about it. Let her know how important this achievement is.
Remember, dogs are our best friends and a critical component to our family, they want to see us happy just as much as we want to see them happy. And, by showing we are thrilled with their accomplishment, the more likely our puppy will try to do the same thing next time to get the same reaction.
Puppies are bound to have accidents, though. This is important to keep in mind and patience is key. They are learning. If you notice your puppy squatting to urinate or defecate, pick her up and take her outside right away. Give her the strong praise and attention if she makes it outdoors, but don’t make a huge deal of it if she doesn’t. She’s learning, and with positive reinforcement, she will be potty trained in no time.
How long does it take to house train a puppy?
This really isn’t a question that can be answered simply. Every puppy is different, not only physically but mentally as well. Some puppies catch on quickly and others take a bit more time. Some can hold out until their next potty break and others body’s aren’t able to hold out that long. It’s important to be patient and understanding with your puppy. As long as she’s making progress, that’s what counts.
As a general guideline, you can expect puppy potty training to last anywhere from 4-8 weeks. If your puppy falls a bit before that time frame, or after, don’t be alarmed. Keep in mind, your puppy is an individual and she will get there. If she’s taking longer than normal to become fully housebroken, it’s normal to be frustrated, but keep chugging away and you’ll be proud of your (and her) accomplishment.
Follow the steps and stay positive
Your dog will be potty-trained before you realize it if you follow the steps indicated above. You'll be glad you stuck it out and believed she could do it, even if there were some frustrating steps along the road and you felt overwhelmed at times.
Keep in mind how critical it is to maintain a positive attitude and refrain from punishment. Punishment can have a long-term negative impact on your dog's relationship with you. We want to make sure that your relationship with your dog is built on trust, love, and happiness.
Remain consistent, keep a careful eye on the situation, make a routine, and give lots of praise! You'll be onto the next step of your journey together before you know it.