How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy?


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How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy? - Black Labrador Retriever puppy going potty in the grass staring off to the right.
How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy?

I sometimes think I write a blog about pee and poop. We get so many questions about potty training puppies it makes my head spin.

Someone sent me this message a few days ago

“I’ve had my 8 week old puppy for 4 days now and she’s still peeing and pooping in the house!? How long will it take to potty train my puppy?

–S.S.

Yep, new puppy owners are an impatient bunch.

  • It takes time for a puppy to learn when and where she should go potty.
  • It takes time for a puppy’s bladder to develop.
  • It takes time for us to learn when our puppy has to go potty.

“Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” –Yoda

For 15 years have I trained service dog puppies. During that time I have potty trained well over a dozen puppies. I finally feel like I have a pretty good idea of approximately how long it take to potty train a puppy.

One thing you should keep in mind is just like people, every puppy is different. Some learn quickly while others may take a while to learn simple concepts (like when and where to pee).

All that being said here’s my answer to the age old question:

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy?

I have a short and long answer to this question. First let’s start with the short answer:

QUESTION: How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

ANSWER: On average it takes us approximately 4-8 weeks to potty train a puppy. We’ve raised over a dozen puppies so if you’re a brand new puppy owner it may take you a bit longer as you get used to your new puppy and her potty routine and schedule.

Now for the long answer…

While 4-8 weeks to potty train a puppy is what we’ve experienced with our pups there are other variables when potty training that could extend or shorten the amount of time it takes you to get your pup accident free.

  • Your Experience – if you’ve potty trained a puppy in the past then it should be easier this time around. Remember, every puppy is different your current puppy may take longer then your previous pup.
  • Patience, Persistence, Consistency – these are three pillars that are important when training your puppy. The better you are with these pillars of puppy training the quicker you’re pup will learn.
  • Routine – getting good routines with your puppy will help them (and you) learn more quickly when the pee and poop is coming.
  • Time – 15 years ago I had a lot more time to train my puppy. Less time to train means slower learning.
  • Family – having multiple people training your puppy slows the training process. Try to get every family member on the same page when training your puppy. However, even when everyone understands what to do we all do it slightly differently which makes it more difficult for your puppy to learn.

QUICK TIP: If your puppy is taking longer than expected to get the hang of potty training you may need to take a trip to your vet. It’s possible your puppy could have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other health issue that’s slowing her success as a fully potty trained puppy.

There are outliers when thinking back to all the puppies we’ve raised.

By the time Linus was 10 weeks old he had figured out he was supposed to potty outside on the grass. It took him 2 weeks to master potty training.

On the flip side there was Stetson. Just like every other puppy, Stetson seemed to grasp the concept of potty training by the time he was 4 months old, but I do recall him having random accidents well past his 6 month birthday.

While I may have considered him potty trained at 4 months old I was always taking a step back and wondering if he truly knew not to got potty in the house after having random accidents for seemingly no reason.

This went on until he was about 9 months old. Looking back I think he just had a small bladder that was slow to develop.

This brings us back to something you’ll hear me say throughout my blog: “Every puppy is different.”

In the case of Linus vs Stetson, Linus had an iron bladder and literally held his pee/poop for more than 24 hours when we took him camping! (he refused to potty on the dirt).

Stetson on the other hand had trouble holding his pee. Even as an adult he had difficulty holding it more than 4 hours during the day.

Puppy Potty Training Tips

Black Labrador Retriever puppy, Elsa sitting and smiling at the camera.
Potty break for our smiling black Lab, Elsa

Before we talk about how long it takes to potty train your puppy lets go over some quick tips on how to potty train your puppy.

Potty training a puppy is easy! The key is to not allow your puppy to have any accidents in the house. The fewer accidents the quicker your puppy will learn.

I know, I know, it ‘s easier said then done.

Here are a few puppy potty training tips to get you started:

1. Anticipate when your puppy will have to go potty and always take your puppy to the same potty spot:

  • As soon as you get up in the morning.
  • As soon as your puppy finishes eating a meal.
  • As soon as your puppy wakes up from a nap.
  • Before, during, and after playtime. Play makes pee, expect your puppy to pee about every 10 minutes (or less) when playing.
  • Right before you and your pup call it a night.

2. Keep a potty routine

  • Take your puppy out the same door to the same spot every time.

3. Use your leash when taking your puppy out to potty to keep her from getting distracted.

  • Keep your puppy near her regular potty spot. Don’t let her go any further than the length of your leash.
  • Don’t let her wonder around the yard sniffing and looking for the perfect spot.
  • Don’t let her play with the leaves, dirt, flowers, gravel, etc.

4. Train your puppy to potty on different surfaces.

We’ve known dogs who would only pee on the grass in their backyard. This makes it difficult anytime you take your dog on an outing aand limits what you can do with your dog. Teach your puppy to potty on:

  • Grass
  • Gravel
  • Dirt
  • Concrete
  • Wood Chips
  • Sand

5. When your puppy goes potty on her spot give her tons of praise and a high value treat.

  • We use positive reinforcement when training our pups. Make sure your puppy knows that she did something good when she potty’s in the right spot.

6. Don’t scold your puppy if she has an accident.

If she has an accident then:

  • Pick up your puppy.
  • Take her to her potty spot.
  • Praise and treat her if she goes potty on her potty spot.

7. If you’re puppy can’t make it outside then carry her to her potty spot.

  • Young puppies often don’t have great control of their bladders. Early on you may need to carry your pup to her potty spot.
  • When Linus was a puppy we had to carry him to his potty spot because he refused to go outside when it was raining. It never rains in California, but the day we brought home Linus it rained for 2 straight weeks!

8. Crate train your puppy

  • If properly crate trained your puppy will not go potty in the crate.
  • Your crate can be used to manage your puppy when you can’t supervise her.

9. Constant Supervision

  • When your puppy is in the house constantly supervise her until she is potty trained.
  • Keep an eye out for pre-potty activities like sniffing, circling, squatting, etc.
  • If you notice any pre-potty activities get your puppy to her potty spot ASAP and praise/treat if she goes potty in her spot.
  • If you can’t supervise your puppy then use your crate to manage her behavior.

10. Thoroughly clean up all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner

  • If your puppy can smell urine from a previous accident she will be compelled to potty in the same spot again.
  • We use enzymatic cleaners which we have found work best for completely removing the smell of urine. For the past 5 years we’ve been using Rocco & Roxie Stain and Odor Remover for our puppy potty accidents.

QUICK RECOMMENDATION: Check out our more detailed article on How To Potty Train A Puppy for more information.

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Golden Retriever Puppy?

Golden Retriever puppy, Charlie Bear - Golden puppy sitting on the concrete waiting for release command
Golden Retriever puppy, Charlie Bear!

I recently raised a litter of Golden Retriever puppies and as luck would have it, three of those puppies went home with friends and family. That means I’ll soon have more data to share with you.

I’ll find out exactly how long it takes to potty train these 3 Golden pups and then report back here at the blog:

Puppy Name Age Potty Trained How Long It Took
Charlie n/a n/a
Mochi n/a n/a
Cabo n/a n/a
How Long It Took To Potty Train Golden Retriever Puppies

As of January 5th, 2021 these puppies are 10 weeks old and none are fully potty trained.

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Labrador Retriever Puppy?

Just like Golden Retrievers we have a lot of experience with Labrador Retrievers. Over the years we’ve raised several Labs to be service dogs.

Unfortunately, we did not keep exact potty training records with our early pups, but we do know how long it took to potty train our most recent puppy, Elsa.

Also, we have 2 friends who recently got Lab puppies and we’ll be reporting when their pups are potty trained.

Moving forward we’ll keep records here for future Lab pups and approximately what age they were potty trained.

Puppy Name Age Potty Trained How Long It Took
Elsa 12 weeks old 4 weeks
Link n/a n/a
June n/a n/a
How Long It Took To Potty Train Golden Retriever Puppies

*One note about our Lab and Golden puppy potty training tables. Deciding when a puppy is potty trained is somewhat subjective. Is your puppy potty trained when she is 80%, 90%, or 100%? That brings us to our next question…

When Is A Puppy Potty Trained?

As I mentioned earlier, I think this is a somewhat subjective question.

Why is it a subjective question? Because we often don’t know exactly when our puppy is 100% (or at least 99.99%) potty trained.

Her are a few questions you might ask yourself when deciding if your puppy is potty trained:

  • Is she potty trained when she knows to go to the door and wait for your to let her out? What if she has an accident waiting for you to get to the door?
  • Is she potty trained after she learns to ring the bells on the door to let you know she needs to go out?
  • Is she potty trained if she hasn’t had an accident for two weeks then all of a sudden one day she has an accident?
  • Is she potty trained if she does not have accidents 80%, 90%, or 100% of the time?

The thing is you’ll probably start to notice your puppy understands she’s supposed to go potty outside very early, probably within the first week or so.

However, her understanding she’s supposed to potty outside and getting her out to her potty spot is your responsibility.

My definition of a potty trained puppy is:

  • I can give my puppy freedom around the house without worrying about potty accidents.
  • My puppy will go to the back door when she has to potty and wait (at least 30 seconds) for me to let her out.

Now this definition does not eliminate all potty accidents. The only potty accidents that happen are because I didn’t get to the back door in time to let my puppy outside to her potty spot.

Elsa is 6 months old and potty trained (by my definition). A couple weeks ago she was waiting at the backdoor to go outside, but I didn’t let her out because the back gate was open, I didn’t have her leash and I didn’t want to let her out into the yard without a leash with the back gate open.

I went into the backyard to close the back gate and by the time I got back (probably about 60 seconds) to the house Elsa went to another room and pee’d on the floor.

This was not Elsa’s fault and I still consider her potty trained even though she recently had an accident in the house.

I don’t teach my dogs to ring bells to be let outside otherwise I might add that to my criteria.

Stetson used to go to the backdoor and if I didn’t notice he’d come find me, poke me with his nose, then walk back to the backdoor. It was something I didn’t teach him, but he learned on his own and it was very effective.

One last thing I want to say about when a puppy is potty trained. While your puppy may be potty trained and perfect in your own home that may not be the case everywhere your puppy goes.

If you leave your puppy with a friend, your pup may not know where she is supposed to potty in her new environment.

You should keep in mind and advise any novice puppy sitters that your puppy may need some help learning where to go potty.

It’s usually a quick process, but it could save future puppy sitters from a stain or two on their new carpet.

Golden Retriever puppy peeing on the gravel.
Golden puppy potty break

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to potty train a puppy is one of the most common questions we get on the blog, but like I said earlier, it feels like we are a blog about pee and poop.

So here are several related pee and poop questions we decided to answer today:

Can An 8 Week Old Puppy Be Potty Trained?

QUESTION: Can an 8 week old puppy be potty trained?

ANSWER: Yes, but the chances a puppy will be potty trained at 8 weeks old is highly improbable.

As a service dog puppy raiser I’ve raised over a dozen puppies and I haven’t had a puppy potty trained by 8 weeks old yet.

However, I was talking to a colleague of mine who has experience working with hundreds of puppies. He said out of all the puppies he’s worked with, he only knows of one puppy that was potty trained by 8 weeks old.

So, the answer to the question can an 8 week old puppy be potty trained is yes, but it very rarely happens.

Most puppies don’t go to their homes until they are 8 weeks old. In order for them to be fully potty trained by 8 weeks old they would have to be trained by their previous caretakers.

Our most recent puppy, a black Labrador Retriever named Elsa came home to us when she was exactly 8 weeks old. Her breeder started potty training her by teaching her to do her business on a piece of artificial turf.

When she came home to us at 8 weeks old Elsa still had accidents in the house. Even though she understood the place to go potty I thing at 8 weeks old she lacked the bladder control to hold it.

Therefore, while possible to potty train a puppy at 8 weeks, I think your puppy, your puppy’s upbringing, your puppy’s previous caretaker and you as the trainer would have to be exceptional in many ways.

How Do You House Train A Puppy In 7 Days?

QUESTION: How do you house train a puppy in 7 days?

ANSWER: Puppy Management. Monitor your puppy’s behavior 100% of the time and don’t allow her to have any accidents in the house. The fewer accidents your puppy has in the house the sooner she’ll learn to potty outside.

I’ve seen many books and blog posts claiming you can potty train a puppy in 7 days. While possible I think for the most puppies it’s improbable.

First of all, most 8-10 week old puppies lack the bladder control to hold their potty. Sometimes they don’t even know they have to go until their actually going.

Second, most puppies we’ve raised take about 4-8 weeks (28-56 days) to catch on to potty training and we have experience potty training service dog puppies for over 15 years.

Third, most people are potty training their first puppy or haven’t potty trained a puppy in many years so you’re bound to make mistakes. Like I said I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I still make tons of mistakes.

It would be difficult to potty train a puppy in 7 days, but not impossible. When we brought home Raven she was just over 1 year old and she was not potty trained.

We were able to potty train her in less than 7 days. However, she was older and could control her bladder, we had potty trained many puppies before her and understood how to potty train a puppy.

Finally I think her previous caretaker may have started her on her training before she came to our home.

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy Using A Crate?

Crate training our black lab puppy, Elsa

QUESTION: How long does it take to potty train a puppy using a crate?

ANSWER: 4-8 weeks.

Since we crate train all of our puppies our answer to this question is the same as our original answer.

Of course our answer is not without a little insight.

I suspect new puppy owners who use a their crate properly to potty train their puppies are accident free sooner then those who do not use a crate.

Why?

The key to potty training is to prevent your puppy from having accidents in the house. The crate is a great tool to help prevent accidents in the house.

A properly crate trained puppy will not pee or poop in the crate. Therefore when you go to bed at night you should not have to worry about accidents in the house.

During the day when you need a puppy break you can crate your pup and not worry about accidents during your puppy break.

Check out our blog post about how to crate train a puppy for more information on crate training.

What Is The Easiest Dog To Potty Train?

QUESTION: What is the easiest dog to potty train?

ANSWER: Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher.

Our list is based on Stanley Coren’s blog post about smartest dog breeds.

I am not an expert of all dog breeds. However, I have worked with many different breeds apprenticing as a trainer at our local doggie daycare.

That being said I have worked extensively with Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers and the majority of my experience is based off these two highly trainable breeds.

I have talked to many trainers and in general the more trainable breeds tend to learn potty training more quickly.

What Is The Hardest Dog To Potty Train?

QUESTION: What is the hardest dog to potty train?

ANSWER: Borzoi, Chow Chow, Bulldog, Basenji, Afghan Hound.

Again our list is based on Stanley Coren’s blog post about smartest dog breeds.

As I mentioned earlier I’m not an expert in all dog breeds and our list comes from Stanley Coren’s post and his list of of dog breeds on the low end of the intelligence rankings.

One thing I’d like to note here is that in our experience training puppies along with what other trainers have told us, the toy and smaller breeds often take longer to potty train.

The reason I’ve heard for smaller breeds taking longer to potty train is they have smaller bladders, their bladders take longer to develop, and they have a higher metabolism.

If it’s any consolation these small pups have small accidents. 🙂 When our adult Lab, Stetson had an accident in the house I seriously think it was more than you could fit into a Super Big Gulp (that’s 44 oz for the layperson).

Final Thoughts

Every puppy is different.

Every puppy is different.

Every puppy is different.

Okay, now that I have that in your head let me say Every Puppy Is Different. We’ve raised over a dozen puppies and no two puppies are the same

We raise mostly Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. In our experience it takes our puppies approximately 4-8 weeks before they are potty trained.

While 4-8 weeks is what we’ve experienced when potty training our pups, your experience will most assuredly be different as many factors will play a role including: your experience, your personality, how much time you have, and your family will affect how you train your puppy.

That’s a wrap folks. Now back to you!

If you’ve potty trained a puppy how long did it take before you were accident free?

Did it take longer or shorter than 4-8 weeks to potty train your puppy?

Tells us about your experiences in the comment section below.

Oh, and if you have any pee or poop questions please feel free to contact me through out contact form or just leave us a comment below.

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How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy? - Black Lab puppy going pee in the grass staring off to the right of the pic.
How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy?

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