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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.

1-Year-Old Puppy Still Not Potty Trained

If dogs have been learning appropriate potty training skills since they were a puppy, it’s uncommon for a 1-year-old dog to still be having accidents. You should consult with both your dog’s veterinarian and a professional trainer to determine the next steps.

One of the primary reasons for dogs eliminating indoors is that they can still smell their old accidents, even if you can’t. For this reason, it’s essential to use an odor eliminator. For this we 100% recommend Live Odor Free.

Also be sure to read our post Puppy Peeing a Lot: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, What is Normal?

Or are you interested in reading our post, Is pet insurance worth it? 5 shocking facts you need to know…

In summary, dogs of varying ages will have different abilities to control their bladder, as well as different levels of training. It’s also important to know when your puppy’s bladder is fully developed, and to do this, be sure to read our post: When is your puppy’s bladder fully developed.

A dog following a good potty training plan, without any health or behavior concerns, should progress as shown on the table below.

Age Fully developed bladder muscles Hours they can hold it
4 months no 4-5
5 months no 5-6
6 months yes 6-7
7 months yes 7-8
1 year yes 8+

If you find that your puppy’s ability to control their bladder is not aligning with this average schedule, it’s time to seek out answers from your puppy’s veterinarian as well as a professional trainer.

If you’re looking for a quality online training program, we recommend Brain Training For Dogs as it’s based on force-free training techniques which rely on positive reinforcement, and the trainer is CPDT-KA certified.

  • Avoid potty pads – These wee pads that owners layout will actually delay the house-training process. It teaches them it’s OK to wee and poo in the house. It might even become a lifelong potty location for your dog.
  • Punishing accidents – Your puppy will only begin to fear you if you punish them for their accidents. This isn’t just for accidents, though. Fear is the number one reason for unwanted behaviors, and so it becomes a self-destructive cycle.
  • Insufficient cleaning – Not using an Enzymatic cleaner to remove the odor completely
  • Not treating them – When they go outside be sure to give them treats and lots of praise when they do go.
  • Giving them free rein – You want to restrict your puppy’s movements at all times inside during house-training. Have a close eye on them. The more you catch them in the act, the better.
  • Not getting them checked – A vet checkup is essential to any puppy who is struggling with house-training as it can be a medical issue, as we cover next.
  • If you’re still concerned about your dog’s housetraining progress, we recommend you check out this program that can housetrain a dog in under 7 days.

    If your puppy is less than 6-months old, it’s unlikely any peeing in your house is marking. This is because it’s not until their hormones kick in that the marking will begin. However, neutering a dog will lessen their marking, and so if your dog is older than 6-months of age, then this could also be a reason for peeing inside your home.

    For more information on this topic, read our article Will my puppy stop marking after being neutered?

    In many cases, when you find yourself struggling to potty train a puppy, it’s due to one of these three things:

  • An unsuitable potty training plan
  • An early history that makes potty training particularly difficult
  • A medical concern
  • Most trainers will recommend a veterinary visit to rule out medical reasons for your dog’s accidents before progressing with a training plan.

    It’s unfair to put a dog through several weeks of training only to find out later that they were having accidents because of a painful UTI.

    While this list is not exhaustive and cannot diagnose your dog with a health concern related to potty training problems, it provides plenty of examples as to the importance of ruling out medical reasoning before contacting a dog trainer.

    A common problem that arises in dogs and affects their ability to be potty trained is a urinary tract infection.

    A urinary tract infection should be suspected especially in cases where a dog reverts back in their training and starts having more frequent accidents.

    This can happen to dogs of any age, and your vet will likely run a urinalysis to determine if there is any blood or bacteria in their urine that indicates a urinary tract infection.

    In most cases, a urinary tract infection that is caught early can be treated with antibiotics.

    Left untreated, your puppy is at risk for the infection spreading to other organs, or scarring their bladder tissue.

    Several types of birth defects or structural problems can make it more difficult to potty train your puppy.

    In a normal dog, the ureter would take urine from the kidneys to the bladder, where it is stored until a dog voids its bladder. In some cases, as in ectopic ureters, one or both ureters by-pass the bladder and connects to another part of your dog’s body, such as the urethra.

    This deformity means that urine is sent straight out of your dog, without being contained in the bladder, and often manifests as frequent dribbling of urine.

    Breeds that are prone to ectopic ureters include:

  • Siberian Huskies
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Collies
  • Corgis
  • Fox Terriers
  • Other structural problems may be present in some puppies and may either contribute directly to the potty training problems or to an increased risk of other health problems, such as urinary tract infections.

    Finally, your puppy may experience bladder or kidney stones, or other problems within the kidneys.

    In the majority of cases, an x-ray can diagnose your dog with bladder stones.

    Fortunately, stones are not commonly seen in young dogs, although there are some breeds that are more prone to development than others.

    The moral of the story is: your puppy may not be giving you a hard time. Your puppy may be having a hard time.

    A thorough veterinary visit is critical to ethically move forward with a plan for potty training your puppy.

    As with health-related problems, there are several experiences that your puppy may have gone through to affect their behavior related to potty training.

    While many potty training problems related to behavior can be overcome with enough time and dedication, it can be extremely difficult in some cases. This will depend on your puppy’s history.

    Dogs have a natural instinct to keep the area they sleep clean and free from accidents. However, if they are raised in a situation where they are forced to sleep in their own feces and urine, or steps aren’t taken to actively preserve that instinct, your puppy may lose it.

    This is one of the many reasons why dogs from a puppy mill or pet store situation can be extremely hard to potty train. Because these dogs live in small cages almost their entire young life, they are forced to urinate and defecate where they live.

    Just as an aside, it’s also yet another reason why you shouldn’t purchase dogs from a puppy mill or pet store. Not only are you putting money into the hands of someone who isn’t taking care of their dogs, but you’re setting yourself up for a puppy with behavior concerns right from the start.

    Many ethical and responsible breeders will even litter train their young puppies, and start crate and potty training at 5-6 weeks old, in order to set you up for success.

    Speaking personally, I’ve raised several puppies, and often compare the one from an accidental litter to the one from a responsible breeder.

    While the dog I owned that came from an accidental litter was raised in a home and their area was kept clean, extra efforts were not taken to progress potty training skills.

    The puppy from the responsible breeder started potty training skills 5 weeks before coming home to me.

    Both dogs were relatively easy to house train, but the puppy that had early potty training skills progressed significantly faster. We have relatively few accidents, and in almost all cases, my puppy was looking for a door or an appropriate place to potty and just didn’t make it in time.

    To potty train your puppy, establish a routine

    Puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Typically, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is 2 months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Dont go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re likely to have an accident.

    Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

    Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

    Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach whats expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

    Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies may need to be fed two or three times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that theyll eliminate at consistent times as well, making house training easier for both of you.

    Pick up your puppys water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that theyll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, dont make a big deal of it; otherwise, they will think it is time to play and wont want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, dont talk to or play with your puppy, take them out to the spot where they relieve themselves and then return them to bed. Top 10 tips

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    Dont give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re indoors.

    Tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash if you are not actively training or playing. Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go out. Some signs are obvious, such as barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot. If they eliminate, praise them and reward with a treat.

    Keep your puppy on leash in the yard. During the house training process, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. Give your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after they become reliably house trained.

    When youre unable to watch your puppy at all times, restrict them to an area small enough that they wont want to eliminate there.

  • The space should be big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates.
  • Or you may want to crate train your puppy. (Be sure to learn how to use a crate humanely as a method of confinement.) If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, youll need to take them directly to their bathroom spot as soon as you return.
  • Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house—its a normal part of house training. Heres what to do when that happens:

  • Without a lot of drama, immediately take them to their outside bathroom spot. Praise your pup and give a treat if they finish there.
  • Dont punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, just clean it up. Rubbing your puppys nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will do more harm than good.
  • Clean the soiled area thoroughly. Puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces.
  • Its extremely important that you use these supervision and confinement procedures to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, theyll get confused about where they’re supposed to go, which will prolong the house training process.

    what should you do when your puppy has potty accidents at home

    So, you’ve potty trained your puppy. You take them outside for walks and let them out in the backyard for bathroom breaks. And your puppy is happy to do their business outside. That should be that, right? But your puppy keeps peeing in the house. Why? It’s probably one of two common reasons. Either you didn’t actually potty train your pup or you gave your puppy too much freedom too soon.

    New dog owners often expect their puppies to housetrain in an unreasonably short amount of time and with little effort. Potty training a puppy is a step-by-step process that can take several months or more. The key to successful potty training is to prevent all accidents and make sure your puppy only goes to the bathroom in the appropriate toilet spot. That takes patience and perseverance.