by Melody Keilig
How Long Can Puppies Hold Their Pee?
One of the first hurdles every dog parent faces with a new puppy or dog is potty training (also called house training or housebreaking). For some, this process can take merely days, for others, it can drag on for months.
Understanding exactly how long your puppy can hold his or her pee and adjusting your expectations accordingly is part of that process.
Puppies cannot hold their pee as long as adult dogs due to bladder size, but potty training also plays a part. We'll cover what you need to know about how long your puppy can hold their pee at each stage of canine development!
How Long Does It Take To Potty Train a Puppy?
Every puppy is different, so their natural time to go pee will vary from age to breed to size. A puppy's biological development is essential in figuring out when they need to pee and what signs they exhibit.
Sniffing, restlessness, circling and squatting are signs your pup needs to pee.
A two month old puppy will not have much physical control over their bladder because all of the muscles in their body mature as they grow. After three months of age, you can apply the general rule that most puppies can hold their pee one hour per month of life.
Remember that your puppy is as unique from other dogs as you are from other people. Breed, temperament, individual development, activity levels and schedules can also affect how long your puppy can hold its pee.
It's important to know your puppy’s limits so that you can plan their schedule accordingly. Generally speaking, most dogs are fully potty trained by 4-6 months of age while some can take as long as a year to be fully reliable.
Here’s a quick reference guide for how long puppies can hold their pee:
Remember, not all dogs develop bladder control at the same pace.
8 to 10 weeks old: You can expect your puppy to need to pee every hour, possibly less. Don’t push your puppy beyond this, as he’ll likely soil his crate which can create a host of other problems.
10 to 12 weeks old: Bladder control and capacity are increasing and you can begin stretching their crate time to two-hour intervals. Let your puppy out to potty, eat and drink if it’s time and a bit of exercise, then re-crate your puppy for another 2 hours. This method helps them to decompress after activities and tests their ability to hold their pee a little at a time.
If you're looking to potty train your puppy quickly, you can follow our guide to potty training your puppy in seven days.
3 to 4 months old: At this age, you can begin following the general rule of one hour per month of life. A 3 month old puppy should be able to hold their pee for 3 hours, a 4 month old puppy, for 4 hours and so on.
4 to 6 months old: While 6 month old puppies should be able to hold their pee for up to 6 hours, you should try to give them breaks from their crate or confined area every 4 hours.
6 months to 1 year old: Your puppy should do fine with potty breaks every 4-6 hours by this age, as they get closer to a year, you can push that out to 8 hours.
How to Potty Train While You’re Away
Not everyone has the luxury of staying home with their puppy until they are fully house trained. So, what can you do to potty train your puppy while you're away at work during the day or night?
Consider hiring a dog walker if you aren't able to get home during the work day.
Ways to manage long work hours while potty training your puppy:
- Enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend to help let your puppy out on a dependable schedule.
- Hire a dog sitter or dog walker.
- Check with your veterinarian or local boarding facilities for age appropriate “doggie daycare” services.
- Create a puppy area that restricts access to your home using puppy gates or enclosures that include puppy pads or a dog potty.
The good news is, as your puppy grows and develops, he or she will need less constant attention. However, you may need to adjust your expectations if your goal is to allow your dog full access to your house all day.
Not all dogs can handle free-roaming your house while you’re away, no matter their age.
Your pup could make a mess of your living space, steal food by “counter surfing”, dig in the trash, mark their territory, become aggressive, or bark incessantly. Separation and barrier anxieties can cause destructive behaviors and inappropriate elimination.
Crating or confining your puppy while you're away keeps them safe.
If you aren’t able to get home yourself to give your dog a break, you may consider hiring a dog walker to take your dog out for potty time and physical activity or setting up an enclosed dog area that has access to a doggie door leading to a dog run or balcony with a dog litter box.
Let Your Puppy Be a Puppy
There’s a lot to keep track of while raising a puppy: schedules, house training techniques, creating a safe environment for your puppy to name a few. However, much like human babies, this time passes so very quickly. Don’t forget to enjoy it.
Mistakes will be made, by your puppy and by you. Harsh handling and punishments will do far more harm than good, but reasonable expectations, calm consistency, patience and liberal amounts of praise will establish a foundation of trust and love that will last your puppy’s lifetime.