How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

Updated on March 15, 2010
E.K. asks from Wood Dale, IL
14 answers

Hi moms,

We just bought a puppy. She's an American Eskimo and is 6 months old. However, we bought her from a pet store and it is very apparent that the poor little thing has lived in a cage her whole life. It's been 3 weeks and she still isn't potty trained. We take her out every hour or two but 80% of the time, she stands there looking confused and then as soon as we come in, she goes all over the kitchen. In the VERY RARE cases that she does relieve herself outside, we pet her and praise her and give her a treat. And when she does go in the house, we either don't say anything (because we weren't there at the moment that it happened) or if we are there and see it happening, we bang loud spoons together and yell "NO". Then we clean it up quietly, which is what the vet told us to do. Is this really how long it takes???? Should I try a different approach like paper training? I'm going through so many paper towels and plastic bags and she doesn't seem to understand any more today than she did 3 weeks ago. What am I doing wrong???

Thanks for your help!

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answers from Chicago on

I've never had it take longer than a few weeks to get potty training down with a dog...I wish I was as lucky with my son!
The key is to take a weekend (or a few days in a row) and take the dog out often - every 30 minutes. When you're out say, go pee, go pee, repeating until the dog goes pee. Then reward it - treat, lots of petting and praise, etc. Do the same thing with #2 (go poop, go poop) and reward. You should defintely use a crate when you are not around and at night. The key to take them out often so they have the oppotunity to do the right thing and go outside, you can catch them doing something good and reward them immediately. The dog should catch on pretty quick!

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answers from Seattle on

It depends on the breed, some breeds, like very small dogs are usually a little harder to housebreak.
It also depends on the age, with a young puppy (8+ weeks) training usually sticks within a few weeks with only occasional accidents. The older the dog when you start the process, the longer it may take, because by now the poor thing has learned to relieve himself inside. You are basically retraining him. You should also make sure there are no physical issues such as infection or congenital causes - not unheard of in pet-store dogs, which were likely produced in a puppy mill.
It can be done with lots of patience and consistency. If he has been used to soil his crate for lack of other opportunity to relieve himself, crate training won't help much.
Rewarding her when she goes outside and cleaning up immediately after accidents is great. I also support the suggestion of taking out those paper towels to where you want her to go.
It's not impossible, just be prepared that it will take some time.

I have to mention that you should NEVER EVER buy a dog from a pet store. You get a terrible quality animal, most likely from a disgusting puppy mill. Buying these puppies supports these horrible breeding factories and the practices they employ. Many of these dogs are likely to suffer diseases and or genetic conditions that can be very costly to treat/deadly down the road and by the time they reach your family they have had a poorly socialized puppyhood which may lead to behavioral problems...
If rescuing and older dog is not a good fit, I would always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder that will let you meet the pup's dam (mother) and see the facilities where they keep their dogs. I don't even mind hobby breeders as much, as long as the dogs are kept in good conditions and these people really care about their animals.

I wish you good luck for housebreaking and hopefully she will grow into a happy and healthy dog now that she has such a great family!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi E.,
I have trained dogs for the past 10 years. My question for you is are you using a crate? It doesn't sound like it, and that would be the issue. That being said, you will need to get a tiny crate that just allows her enough room to stand up and turn around- so that if she goes in her crate, she would need to lay in it. Hopefully, she is able to be crate trained without going in the crate. Having spent so much time in a pet store, it might not work, BUT, I would start there. Dogs, by nature, do not want to soil where they sleep, but living in a cage for 5/6 months can change that and work against you.
Be sure to keep let her potty before and after you put her in the crate- every time. Also, start by only crating her for an hour, then add a half hour every 3-4 days. She should be able to hold it about an hour for every month she is old- WITH TRAINING. Don't push it, and don't put anything soft in her crate just yet, or she will be tempted to pee on it. She can get that when she is doing well and not going in the crate for a month.
I would strongly recommend "After You Get Your Puppy" by Ian Dunbar. Great book! Your biggest issue should be working on socializing her to new things- people, places, other dogs. Puppies that spend too much time in a pet store are often fearful and undersocialized. Make sure you get her into a good puppy class that uses positive reinforcement methods and not pain.
Also, good job on praising and treating when she goes outside, and not punishing her for accidents. She cannot let herself outside to go, so when she has an accident, blame yourselves. ;)
If I can offer any more tips, feel free to message me. Good luck with your puppy!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I am a big fan of crate training. keep the dog in the kennel until you take it out to go potty. if it goes potty outside praise praise praise and let it be free int her house for a little while. if not it should go right back in the kennel and try to take it out an hour or so later. pay attention to the cues the dog gives as well. if it whines while in its cage take it outside so it will learn that whining is a way to tell you to take them outside. some dogs learn fast some dogs take forever but you have to be patient.



answers from State College on

Potty training can take awhile, especially when they are used to having to go in their own living space. Make sure to take her out a few minutes after every time she eats, drinks, or plays. If you take her out and she does not go, but you think she probably needs to, go back in after a couple of minutes and then immediately take her back outside. Sometimes you may have to go in and out several times. Make sure to take her out on leash and no playtime outside until after she goes potty. You are doing good that you are using lots of praise and treats when she goes. Good job ignoring it in the house too. If you do catch her right before she goes, I wouldn't yell no, just make a noise in a normal voice to get her attention and quickly move her outside and lots of praise if she goes.

Good luck and remember it will take time and her early life of going in her own space it working against you to a degree, but you can overcome it. Some people use a bell on the door, where it is low enough she can reach it. Every time you go ring the bell and then outside. Many dogs will learn that if they ring the bell you will take them outside. This of course means anytime she rings it you have to take her out.



answers from Chicago on

Hi! If she is 6 months old and you have only had her for 3 weeks, it will probably be a little more difficult to house train her because she was in a cage for so long. American Eskimo's are also known for being a little difficult, so paitence is key. I think all the advice that has been given is good about crate training, but if you are really having trouble, I would suggest looking for a reliable dog trainer. It is of the utmost importance for people with dogs to have some sort of dog training. Trainers can help you identify problems with the individual dog or just help you understand best how to communicate to your dog the expectations that you have. I work in animal control and so many surrendered animals due to behavior issues could have been helped with a simple training course with a qualified trainer. Be patient, the dog wants to please you but if he or she has spent the first 5 months going potty in a cage, it will take a while for them to learn that you are expecting them to potty outside. Good luck!



answers from Jacksonville on

The poor thing.
Try taking the paper she soils on outside or your papertowels outside when you take her to go potty. Then when whe relieves herself outised give her a cookie, doggie treat.
Keep up with it. She has spent her whole life in a cage and really doesnt know how to handle living outside of one.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with crate training but she should only be in the crate for 30 minutes at a time since she is 6 months. They older she gets the longer she can be in. 1 hour per year. I hated putting our pup in the crate but she did learn that way. Since your pup was in a crate for a while at the pet store, it will be difficult because she soiled where she slept. I hate pet stores that sell puppies, I dont think they treat them right. Anyway, check out Cesar Millan's site (dog whisperer). Im sure he has onfo on it about this. It will take a while, so be patient. I know how frustrating it can be, but youre doing the right thing by not yelling at her unless you see her do it. Its like having a baby and it takes time and understanding. Be sure to get her chew toys too so she doesnt chew your furniture! Good luck and it will get better.



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm racking my brain trying to remember everything we learned during puppy training class. LOL. We bought our Westie at around 8 wks and had the pleasure of house training her. Boy...what an experience! I don't remember how long it took, but I do remember at the time it felt like an eternity.

I remember our trainer telling us to reward her good behavior (going outside) right then and outside, in the middle of the yard. (Keep a couple treats in your pocket every time you take her out.) You need to condition her brain to realize that the good behavior is peeing/pooping outside, not coming back in the house (when she is probably getting her treat). It's basically just repetition. She will learn eventually.

Another thing is were told that a dog will not soil their living space (assuming they are confined to a crate). We used this method with our puppy. I suppose in theory thats correct, but I can tell you, that on several occassions, we came home to her sitting in pee/poo in her crate. I think more importantly is to remember the rule that our trainer taught us. A puppy can only hold it's waste for 1 hr + # months old. So a 1 month old puppy can hold it for 2 hrs, and after that you are asking too much. Granted that simple equation doesn't work forever, but for the very new puppy, I think it helps. So when training, keep that in mind and take puppy out before that time frame expires.

I hope this helps, I wish I could remember more! Good luck to you. Just know that it takes patience and persistance.



answers from Tulsa on

varies according the individual dog. I have one dog that is just a hair over a year he is house broke but we keep him caged at night cause he hasnt learned to hold it yet. He also hasnt figured how to wake us up if he needs to go out. A dog wont toilet in thier own bed so if you box them up when your not home or asleep they teach thier body to hold it.
My oldest 2 dogs will whine if they need to go out. this one goes out when the other 2 whine he won't whine. There is no point in disciplining them because they haven't learn to hold it that long. Thier bodies are still growing and its like telling a baby not to wet thier diaper not a toddler a baby. Save the dog lots of punishment by caging them at night. The dog also uses the box if he knows he did wrong or is just tired and wants to be alone. mine all love thier boxes.
I also make my dogs tell me when they need to go out even though I already know it teaches them to whine or bark. Take her out as soon as she eats. watch for her to hunt. if shes sniffing the carpet put her outside. hunting is my clue that a puppy needs to go out. get some pet stain and odor remover febreeze is what I use if they smell the urine or poop they will go on that area again. baking soda absorbs pee and also removes the smell put it on absorb the pee when the baking soda turns brown the job is done vacumn up and go on.baking soda also absorbs the smell so they won't go there again.



answers from Orlando on

In my experience it can take up to a few months to fully potty train a new puppy. I got my puppy at 8 weeks (she's 3 now) but she was maybe 4-5, maybe even 6 months! by the time she was fully potty trained. I did crate train her until she was a year old though, just in case. Just while I was gone during the day at work & at night. After we were done with the crate she has never had an accident in the house. Hmmm. But like other posters said, the crate may not work since you got her from a puppy store where she was crated. I'm sorry, but to answer your question you're not doing ANYTHING wrong. Sounds like you are doing everything right. Just be patient & keep it up. It will happen eventually with patience & consistency.


answers from Columbus on

We also fostered a dog from a pet store. He had been there quite awhile and the owner of the store told one of the dog pound volunteers to come get it or it was going to be put down! She got it immediately, but was really over capacity. We fostered it and eventually adopted it out. I can tell you if he has been in that store this whole time, you have quite a challenge. Crate training may not work because this dog has gotten used to peeing and pooping on and around it's environment. Usually dogs don't relieve themselves in their own space. That's not the case, here. You are going to have to teach this dog which spaces are ok and which are not. This may require more time one-on-one time with this puppy than a younger non-pet store dog. What we did with our foster was to spend time with him outside. We would take him out after breakfast, when we figured he'd need to do both #1 and #2. When he did, we gave him treats and gave him a lot of affection. When he had accidents in the house, we'd calmly walk to him, take him to the "business", firmly but not angrily say "pee pee outside" and immediately take him outside. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not get angry at him. You cannot forcefully rub his nose in it or hit him or yank on him.......he is trying to please you and it will take time. Catching him having accidents will also be really important. I had kids who were old enough that I could run to a different part of the house and say, "Watch Tucker", so that there was someone watching him almsot all the time. Now, the nighttime part will be more difficult in that, like I said, he is used to going on and around himself. You will have to make sure someone is taking him out right before you go to bed and right away in the morning. Our foster didn't mind the crate as most dogs. It's like a den for them. If you are dedicating a lot of time to this process and it's still not working, you may need more professional help. I am not a professional, but we were able to get our foster to eventually go to the door when he wanted to go. He didn't do anything other than walk to the front door, but it was definitely a milestone!!!! If you contact the local humane society, they can either help you with some advice or put you in contact with someone who can.
BTW, our foster was half Eskimo, half Lhasa apso. I wish you the best of luck!!!



answers from Chicago on

Potty training a dog takes more like 3 months. I always referred to it as potty/poo poo. Outside I told my dog, go potty, go poo poo, and then praised him for it.. When he had an accident inside. Even if I wasn't home at the time, I showed it to him and told him you do potty/poo poo outside in a stern voice and then put him out side giving him the order to go potty. It takes patience. Also, when their young, you can not leave them all day. You have to build up to it. I would come home on my lunch and let him out. after about 6 weeks we were down to only having accidents by three months it was done.

If your using the cage method, which I did. then maybe your cage is to big. I started with a box in the cage and as the dog grew I kept reducing the size of the box. Too much space in the cage and the dog will soil their space. Keep it to a minimum until the dog is trained. They like their space clean.



answers from New York on

first put newspaper all over the kitchen.... when she goes.. try to keep her in a smaller area. as she continues to go... make the newspaper area smaller. after a week... then smaller the next week... then take some newspaper outside too... this helps the dog... good luck.. it usually should take about 4 weeks to be totally trained...

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