How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Rachel Rodgers
9th May 2024
Puppies aren't born knowing to toilet outside, so we have to train them to do it. It can take a few weeks to months. But by 5-6 months, you'll probably notice fewer accidents in the house.
If you’ve ever wondered how long does it take to toilet train a puppy, you’ve probably seen articles promising “how to toilet train a puppy in 7 days”. Maybe you were relieved it could be so fast, or if you’ve been struggling with cracking the training, been disheartened that you might have done something wrong.
But like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And anything to do with training your puppy usually falls into this category. Especially the idea of toilet training a puppy within a week. So let’s talk about how long it actually takes to toilet train a puppy.

How long does it take to toilet train a puppy?

Toilet training a puppy can take a few weeks to a couple of months. In general, at around 3 to 4 months, many puppies start to understand the routine of going outside to go to the loo.

Why does toilet training take so long?

The reason it takes time is because it takes a few months for puppies to develop the muscles needed to control their bladder and be able to hold pee in. The rule of thumb is that your pup can hold everything in for the number of months they are, plus one. So a 2-month-old puppy who’s just come home can only hold it in for about 3 hours max.
But the time it takes can be different for every puppy depending on their age and breed. Smaller breeds tend to take a little longer to toilet train than larger breeds. Just because their bladders and digestive systems are smaller, so they can’t hold it in as long as bigger breeds.
Plus, puppies aren’t born knowing they shouldn’t toilet inside, it’s a rule we have to teach them. Some puppies catch on quickly, while others may need more time to grasp the concept. Plus, how fast your pup learns also comes down to your consistency in training, and how you do it.

When should you start toilet training a puppy?

If you’ve got your puppy from a good breeder, they should have made a start on toilet training your puppy before you get them. You can start toilet training your puppy as soon as you bring them home, after they’re 8 weeks old.
At that age, puppies are still figuring out how to control their bladder and developing the muscles that help them do that. So be prepared for the fact accidents are normal. So it’s important to be patient. 
For more info on how to toilet train your pup, with tips on how to do it the fastest way, check out our guide.

When should a puppy be toilet trained by?

There is no set age when a puppy should be toilet trained by. But by 5-6 months, you’ll probably notice fewer accidents inside as your puppy gets better at knowing where and when to go.
But night time control might take a bit longer. Taking your pup out just before bed will help them not need to go out in the middle of the night. But this does depend on how fast your pup learns, and how consistent you can be.

How to tell your pup has got it

Your pup’s pretty much toilet trained when they consistently pee or poo outside in the same spot within 5 minutes of you taking them out. Here’s a few pointers on how to tell if they’re getting the hang of it.

Signs of understanding

A pup will understand that peeing and pooping happen outside, and try to show you they want to go out. They might wait by the door, whine, or go to their lead when they need to go out.

Fewer accidents

Accidents will still happen. But overall, if your puppy is having fewer accidents, it’s a sign they’re developing control of their bladder and bowels. Puppies around 5 to 6 months will have more reliable control.

Can hold it

You might notice your pup can sleep through the night without needing a bathroom break. Being able to control everything at night usually happens later than daytime control. So if your pup shows night time control as well, that’s a clear sign they’re getting there.

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