How Long Can a Puppy Go Between Potty Breaks

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Bringing home a new puppy is fun and exciting, you and your family will be overcome with joy while playing with your new bundle of fluff. But, a lot of responsibility comes along with this new and adorable family member. One of the hardest tasks to accomplish during the first weeks after you bring your puppy home is potty training.

Sadly, a lot of owners become frustrated with their puppies during this time and turn toward giving their pet over to a shelter. It’s important to remember that no matter how hard you try it’s going to take a few weeks for your puppy to be fully potty trained, and accidents are going to happen.

Don’t Ask Your Puppy to Hold it Too Long

Why is it that some think that puppies can hold their bladder as long as adult dogs can? This simply isn’t true. Puppies are small, and not yet fully developed. This means that anything that goes in one end tends to come out the other within 2-3 hours. You might be thinking that that sounds like a lot of time you’d need to commit to taking your puppy out to go potty and you’d be right.

Puppies require, and deserve, frequent attention when young. If you can’t find a way to let your puppy out every 2-3 hours for the first couple of weeks home then now might not be a good time to welcome home a new puppy. Some get around this requirement by utilizing puppy pads or other potty alternatives, and these methods can work, but they’re not foolproof. If you are going to use this method, then we recommend that you keep your puppy in a crate or x pen while you’re out.

Choosing The Right Crate or X Pen

Make sure that your enclosure of choice is the right size for your puppy. If your crate or x pen is too large, then your puppy will be more likely to have accidents because he’ll have ample room to get away from the mess and it may lead to him developing a lifelong habit of eliminating in his crate or x pen. Your enclosure should be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around comfortably. We recommend purchasing an adjustable crate so that you won’t need to continue buying new crates as your puppy grows. These crates usually have a moveable panel that you can slide frontwards or backwards to increase or decrease the amount of space your puppy has available.

Consistency is Key

Just like with human babies, consistency is key when it comes to puppies. You’ll need to develop a potty training schedule that you can realistically maintain for a long period of time. Puppies will thrive on consistency and likewise, suffer from irregularity. It’s best if you can figure out a schedule before you bring your puppy home. Here are a few of your puppy’s needs you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Puppies need to potty every 2-3 hours
  • Puppies tend to need to go to the bathroom two hours after they finish eating or drinking
  • A puppy needs to be fed 3-4 times a day (depending on your vet’s personal recommendations)
  • Feed your puppy at the same time every day so that you can predict his bathroom schedule
  • Your puppy will still need to potty at night, so set an alarm

Positivity Is Key

When you find an accident in your house, it can be tempting to get angry at your puppy. No one likes coming home to find a mess, but consider who’s at fault in the situation. Your puppy is just a baby. Did you make him wait more than two and a half hours between potty breaks? Did you leave him with a bowl of water and food when you left? Did you feed him at a different time than usual? All of these factors will contribute to why a puppy makes a mess, so please keep them in mind.

Also, scolding your puppy, or doing something antiquated like hitting them with a rolled newspaper on the nose when they have an accident only conditions your puppy to hide their mistakes from you. When you negatively discipline your puppy much later after he has had an accident, say when you walk in the door from work he’ll only learn one thing. He’ll learn that you’re angry when you get home so he should hide, he may also learn that he should hide his potty from you. This is troubling because your puppy might adapt a coping mechanism where he goes off and hides when he needs to potty as opposed to signaling to you that it’s time to go.

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