There are many factors that affect how long it may take to potty train a puppy. Because there are so many factors that affect house breaking/potty training, there is no definite time line. That being said, the biggest factor in the time it takes to potty train any puppy or dog is the owner. The key to successful potty training is consistency and diligence. If you manage to follow potty training instructions diligently and do not allow accidents to happen, your puppy will be potty trained much faster than owners who are less diligent. While the owner’s diligence is the biggest factor, there are other factors that can affect potty training.
A huge factor in potty training success is also how the puppy was raised from the time it was born until it left its mother for its new home. This is the biggest exception to owner diligence. Even with the most diligent owner, a puppy raised improperly during this critical period can be incredibly difficult to potty train. The reason for this is that puppies that are properly raised in clean environments are imprinted with the innate desire to be clean and to not soil their living quarters. During this key period, they learn to leave the nest to eliminate and keep their sleeping area clean. Puppies raised in puppy mills, hoarding situations, or simply by less ethical breeders start their lives being dirty. Puppies raised in these environments become comfortable having filth in their living quarters and are not upset by being dirty. As potty training in a new home starts by using what should be the puppy’s imprinted desire to stay clean in their sleeping quarters, getting a puppy that was not properly raised can be an immense challenge.
Another factor affecting potty training is the size of the dog. This is not because of any difference in intelligence, it is due to the size of the area the dog considers its living area. As discussed above, dogs, in general, do not want to eliminate in areas they consider their living and sleeping areas. Part of potty training is increasing the size of what the dog perceives to be its living area over time.
For example, to a 5lb chihuahua, the kitchen is a huge area. The chihuahua will quickly learn that a crate is its living area, but it will not see the entire kitchen in the same way. On the other hand, a German Shepherd that is 40lbs by the time it is 4 months old will quickly find the kitchen to be a small area and quickly accept it as part of its living area. By 5 or 6 months old, a large dog can easily accept that the kitchen, dining room, and living room is all part of its living area. A toy dog of the same age, by contrast, may only see the kitchen as a living area at this time and the living room may still appear to be a wide vast expanse of wilderness.
By the same logic, the size of your home is also a factor in when a dog is really completely potty trained. The larger the home, the longer it will take for the dog to understand that everything indoors is a living area.
A puppy’s diet can make potty training easier and faster or extremely difficult. A good quality food produces less and smaller stool, which often means fewer accidents. A poor diet can result in loose and voluminous stool as well as irregular bowel movements. This can cause accidents in the crate and require many more trips outside.
USE OF POTTY PADS
Using potty pads in the home will greatly slow a puppy’s house training process. Dogs are very black and white in their understanding of concepts. In the case of house breaking, it is either ok to go potty indoors or it is not. If you allow your puppy to use potty pads, you are telling the puppy that it is ok to go potty inside, albeit on a pad, but do not be surprised if your puppy does not know the difference between your potty pad and the rug down the hall.
A couple possible setbacks that can slow the potty training process are (1) accidents and (2) health issues
Accidents. Every accident you do not catch adds time to the process. When a puppy goes potty in the house and is not caught in the moment, that is a setback. Accidents that are caught at the moment they are happening can actually speed the process as it is a learning opportunity, however, ones that go unnoticed can add quite a bit of time to overcome. Each accident signifies that your puppy does not yet understand that the area the accident happened in is part of the living area. The puppy likely slipped away, outside of its perceived “living area” an went potty and came back. You will have to diligently make sure your puppy has many more successful potty experiences and no more accidents in that area to correct the error.
Health Issues. If your puppy happens to get a urinary tract infection during the potty training process, this can cause a significant setback as you puppy will be unable to control its bladder. If you see your puppy start to backslide even when you are doing everything right, err on the side of caution and take your puppy to the vet to check for a UTI or other health issue.
SET YOUR PUPPY UP FOR SUCCESS
Do not give your puppy too much trust and freedom too soon as accidents can happen and set you back. It is best to conquer potty training slowly and carefully and not to increase the area too rapidly. Try to set your puppy up for success by keeping the boundaries as small as necessary to prevent accidents and, of course, stay vigilant!