When Should I Start To Potty Train My Puppy?

Adopting a new puppy and becoming a puppy parent is very similar in many ways to becoming a human parent for the first time; there’s a considerable learning curve involved. All puppies are different, of course, with different needs, traits, and many other differences. Some are faster to learn than others, while some are very stubborn and hard to train.

That can make a big difference when it comes time to train them on something essential for them and you; when and where to go to the potty. It’s imperative that your new puppy knows that they can’t “go” inside the house and also that they need to let you know if they need to go so that you can let them out.

That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, though, due to the fact I mentioned above that all puppies are different. Some will learn very quickly, while others may take a bit more time (or, in some cases, a lot more time) to get the idea.

No matter how long it takes, however, potty training is essential. It will make your life and your puppy’s life much more manageable, more sanitary, and less stressful. That leads me to a question I hear all the time from new puppy parents, namely, when should I start to potty train my puppy?

The answer to that question is that you should start potty training at about 12 to 16 weeks of age. That’s when your puppy has better control of its bladder, which is essential during this time. 

One caveat, however, is that if you adopt a puppy that’s older and has been defecating in its cage, it may take longer. That’s because you’ll have to change their behavior and train them that pooping in their crate is a no-no.

Now that you know you should start potty training your puppy between 12 and 16 weeks, you probably have more questions about this critical process. How long will it take for your pup to be fully potty trained, for example, as well as different methods of potty training? If yes, please keep on reading! I’ve got the answers you seek below!

What’s the Best Potty Training Schedule for Puppies?

When it comes to housebreaking and potty training a puppy, one of the most important aspects is also the simplest; sticking to a schedule. By sticking to a schedule, you’ll make it easier on your puppy, who will learn faster and with less frustration. You’ll make it easier on yourself also, with fewer messes to clean up after “accidents.” 

Remember, puppies still don’t have complete control over the bladder and bowel, making it much more difficult for them to “hold” themselves if they aren’t let out right away. By putting them on a schedule, you give their bowel and bladder a break, reduce accidents and teach them that there are certain times during the day when they need to go and certain times when they need to hold it.

One factor that’s the same, no matter the age of your puppy, is that they should be taken out immediately every morning, right after they wake up (or wake you up). After a long night, you can ensure their tiny bladder and bowel are full and need to be evacuated. That’s even more true if, for example, you’re a long-sleeper.

You should also take your pup out for potty breaks after they get up from a nap, they’ve been fed, or after they’ve played with you or another family member energetically. Below is a closer look at what amount of time a puppy can typically be expected to ‘hold it’ before needing to go potty:

  • 6 to 12 Weeks- 1hour during the day and 3 to 4 hours at night.
  • 12 to 16 Weeks- 2 hours during the day and 4 to 8 hours at night.
  • 4 to 5 Months- 3 hours during the day and 8 hours at night.
  • 6 to 7 Months- 4 hours during the day and 8 hours at night.
  • 8 to 11 months- 5 to 6 hours during the day and 8 hours at night.
  • 12 Months and Older- 8 hours during the day and 8 to 10 hours at night.

Different Ways to Potty Train your Puppy

There are several different ways to potty train a puppy, no doubt. Some are easier than others and work faster, but all will work if you dedicate enough time and patience to the task.


One of the most frequently used methods of potty training a puppy is to use a crate, which many veterinarians and dog experts highly recommend. Crates rely on a fact about puppies and dogs that can be very helpful; they hate to poop and pee where they sleep.

Indeed, an adult dog will practically hurt itself to not poo or pee where it sleeps, making crates a great way to ensure they don’t. (But please don’t leave them in there all day holding it in, it’s cruel.) 

Puppies have less control over their bodily functions, of course. That means you need to keep their crate time, as I mentioned earlier, on a set schedule. If you don’t, you’ll find a nasty mess left behind when they can’t hold it in any longer.


If you’ve ever seen a person walking with their child on a “leash,” you know what tethering is. It’s a method of making sure your puppy can’t leave your sight so that, when they need to go, you’ll know right away. 

Most people use a 6-foot tether that they attach to their pup’s collar and waist. Not only does this keep their puppy close, but it also allows them to see “pre-elimination” behavior in their dog, good signs to know to prevent accidents in the future. Tethering is also a great way to bond more closely with your precious puppy and give them more time outside their crate.

Sticking to a Schedule

I mentioned sticking to a schedule earlier, essential when training a puppy. Having a set, specific time for going outside will give your dog an inner-clock type of sense of how long they need to hold themselves before potty time. Of course, as they grow, your pup’s schedule will change, so be prepared for that and learn to spot the signs that they need to take a potty break.

How Long Will it Take for My Puppy to be Fully Potty Trained?

Most dog experts will tell you that it takes between 4 to 8 weeks to fully potty train a puppy. If you’re experienced with potty training from adopting other puppies, the process might be a little shorter. That being said, if you’re a new puppy parent, you’ll be learning too. This learning curve for you and your pup could extend the potty training time by a few days or weeks.

While you’re potty training your puppy, keep the three rules of potty training in mind; patience, persistence, and consistency. Be patient with your precious pup, persist with their training even if you’re frustrated, and, most of all, use consistent methods to avoid confusion and frustration on your puppy’s part.

Final Thoughts

When should you start potty training your puppy? The answer is that potty training should begin between 12 and 16 weeks, give or take a few days. That’s when your pup will be fully weaned and, usually, away from its mother. It’s also when they start to have more control over their bladder and bowels (albeit not complete control).

I hope today’s blog was helpful and answered your questions about potty training, your precious pupper. Please see my other blogs on this wonderful subject if you have more questions about being a new puppy parent. They’re packed with helpful tips and real-world advice that will help you raise a beautiful, intelligent and well-trained dog.