How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Puppy?

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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.
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?

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 takes 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 than your previous pup.
  • Patience, Persistence, Consistency – are three pillars that are important when training your puppy. The better you are with these pillars of puppy training the quicker your pup will learn.
  • Routine – getting good routines with your puppy will help them (and you) learn more quickly when the pee and poop are 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 issues that are 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 go 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 for 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 let’s 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 than 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 wander 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 and 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 her 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 NameAge Potty TrainedHow Long It Took
Charlie17 weeks old9 weeks
Bear15 weeks old7 weeks
Mochin/an/a
Cabo21 weeks old13 weeks
How Long It Took To Potty Train Golden Retriever Puppies

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 NameAge Potty TrainedHow Long It Took
Elsa12 weeks old4 weeks
Linus (lab mix)12 weeks old2 weeks
Link17 weeks old8 weeks
June19 weeks old10 weeks
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…

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Goldador Puppy?

What is a Goldador? A Golden Retriever Labrador Retriever mix!

Last January we got our first Golden Lab mix puppy, Anna. She took a little longer to potty train but I chalk that up to her having an upset stomach for the first month home with us. Yep, the dreaded diarrhea!

We had Anna checked for possible sickness or parasites but everything came back negative. The vets and trainers at the school guessed that she was having some anxiety moving from the nursery to her new home.

Here’s our Goldador puppy, Anna’s potty training chart:

Puppy NameAge Potty TrainedHow Long It Took
Anna19 weeks old10 weeks
How Long It Took To Potty Train Goldador Puppy

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.

Here 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, getting her to understand that 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 of 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 to 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 as 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 of 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 think 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 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 experienced 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 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 their crate properly to potty train their puppies are accident-free sooner than 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 the smartest dog breeds.

I am not an expert on 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 on 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 the 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 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 take 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.

As I said, we’ve been covering a lot of your pee and poop questions over the years. Here are a few others you’ve sent us and we’ve answered over the years:

If you have a pee or poop question that we haven’t yet answered please leave us a comment and maybe, just maybe we’ll write a blog post answering your question.

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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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9 Comments

  1. We are struggling!! I have a 3 month old pitty pup and she is constantly peeing everywhere: house, crate, outside. We got her at 11weeks old and she is now….15 weeks.

    How can I properly crate train her so she doesn’t go in the crate? She will pee in the crate overnight every 2-4 hours I’m constantly getting up and taking her out when she cries for it I’ve set alarms to wake myself up so I can catch it before she pees.
    I feel like I have spent AMPLE time taking her to a specific spot praising and keeping her close while out of the crate. I have a leash that goes around my waist and she stays close to me and there typically are no accidents while I’m doing this but I notice her cues and let her out almost every hour sometimes more frequently. I will schedule an appointment with the vet to see if she has a UTI as it states above.

    I’d like to avoid paying for in house potty training with a local trainer but I’m desperate at this point.

  2. We have a toy australian shepherd, just 3 months. My 3rd puppy, but it’s been 10 yrs lol.. All in all, she’s doing pretty good. She keeps her kennel dry from 10-7 at night. I do have to be careful to not excite her and get her out quickly in the morning or she will dribble. Basically off and on if she gets excited, she will dribble.
    We have a small pen/fence inside, only a small area, maybe 2ftx4ft with a doggie door access from it to the backyard. Most of the time she faithfully goes outside to relive herself. But randomly she will squat inside with no warning in her fence area.
    Two questions:
    #1 Any tips for the dribbling? We try to greet her outside if we haven’t seen her in a bit, also not be hyper ourselves, remaining calm when speaking/ interacting inside. Hoping it’s a puppy thing that she outgrows. We don’t scold, just clean it up, but she hates the smell of the cleaner and wrinkles her lips at it, so it’s a bit of a natural correction I guess. Lol
    #2 Any ideas on why she squats inside sometimes when she has free access to outside? It’s very random and can happen just seconds after returning from Going outside herself to potty!🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️ Again hoping it’s a puppy thing, but didn’t know if letting her take herself out via doggie door was hosing us up somehow.
    Thanks ahead of time for any input!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with your toy Aussie.

      #1. Sounds like you’re doing about the same we would do when our puppies dribble. We’ve had several pups do this and they all eventually outgrew it.
      #2. At this point, your puppy probably is still unsure as to the proper potty spot. I’d make sure any area she’s had an accident is thoroughly cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner. You can try making her confinement area smaller so it’s only large enough for her to lay down and sleep. Most puppies will not potty where they sleep. We use a crate with our puppies but a smaller fenced area would work too.

      We have an article on potty training that also might be helpful. Take a look at: https://puppyintraining.com/how-to-potty-train-a-puppy/

  3. Add Schnauzer to the list of hard to train for potty training. haha

    We finally trained her with bells attached to the door, worked like a charm.

    We now have a black lab/ collie cross, I hope this goes easier. We got him at approximately 4 months old and have had him for one week.

  4. People keep saying that I won’t have to be bothered by potty training a dog by adopting a cat instead. Yeah a cat seems nice but some people, including me, prefer dogs, so their comments are meaningless lol. Dogs may not be as intuitive as cats in knowing where to poop but they can be trained also. And I am happy to do it even when it takes time and effort.

  5. I live in Denver and adopted a 7 week puppy about a week ago. Unfortunately, it is too cold to take him outside to potty. He goes on the potty pads about 60% of the time. How do I go about potty training him to go outside? When is a dog old enough to handle colder weather? (puppy is German Shepherd / Lab Retriever, we think).

    1. Yes, they do, but you also need to take your dog go out regularly. Then he will have a chance to learn how to adapt to live in different weather. The first time it could be hard but you can take him to go out every day, then the weather is not a big deal anymore.

      1. It’s been several months, I wonder if you would update your tables with the dogs and how long it took them to get trained. I got a 12 week pup from the humane society a week ago. We are no where near potty trained. Usually she won’t even show any signs that she has to pee, she will just get up and immediately crouch down. And that could be 5 minutes after the last time she peed. I took her out today, good timing with a pee and a poop. We came back in the house and I thought well it should be about an hour or so until I need to take her out again. 15 minutes later she had peed 3 times on the rug. Sometimes I’m really at my wits end and think if I can’t predict when she needs to go or she is going to randomly pee 3 times in 15 minutes, how the heck are we ever going to get through this. Working on crate training also isn’t going great because she immediately starts yelping as soon as I close the door and we had a few pretty nightmarish nights of yelping and freaking out for hours on end. I’m just so frazzled and I try not to let her see it but I’m not perfect. I feel like this is never going to end and she will just keep randomly peeing several times after just literally going out and peeing in the right spot. I’m definitely never getting a puppy again, this is way too stressful, especially trying to keep other family members doing the same thing and in a timely manner.

        1. Hi Ripley! I’d take your pup for a vet appointment to make sure she doesn’t have a UTI. Our baby seemed like she got the hang but kept having random accidents and was peeing frequently like that. She did have a UTI and we discovered that her anatomy made her prone to them. She’s had several now, but seems to have a better time handling them and I have a supplement that seems to reduce the pain and any issues. I’d definitely work on the crate training, but I understand your frustration. I was miserable for the first few months until we figured out what was causing the issue. NOTE: there was no blood and it wasn’t detected the first time we took her but the second time we asked them to check again and there was blood in the urine.

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