How Old Before a Puppy Is Fully Potty Trained?

Be prepared for accidents when potty training your pooch.
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Your puppy brings such joy and laughter -- until you step in a little present she left behind when she couldn't make it outside in time. House-training a puppy is a lesson in patience, and it's not always over quickly. Some puppies have it down pat in just a few weeks, while others take closer to a year.

Age to Start

Most puppies aren't able to control when they go until they are at least 12 weeks old. After she's about 6 weeks old, you can start taking her outside at least every hour to give her the chance to go. While this can cut down on indoor accidents, she won't be ready for true house-training until 12 weeks.

Learning the Basics

Most puppies have a good understanding of where they're supposed to potty after about a month of house-training. By the time she is 4 months old, your pup knows to wait for you to take her outside, and she might understand ways to tell you she has to go, such as barking or scratching at the door. However, she's still young, so you should expect accidents. According to the Humane Society of the United States, your puppy can hold her bladder for about one hour per month of her age. For example, at 4 months old, she can likely wait about four hours between potty trips. This can vary depending on how much she has to drink and exciting events that occur, such as if guests are coming in and out the door -- she's more likely to have an accident when she's excited.

Potty Pro

Many dogs are fully house-trained by 6 months old, but don't be discouraged if your pooch has accidents through 12 months old. Every dog is different, and some take a bit longer to make it to professional potty level. Small dogs tend to be fully house-trained later than large dogs because they have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms, meaning they must go out more often. This can lead to more frequent accidents during the housebreaking process.

How You Can Help

To help your puppy house-train faster, be consistent about taking her outside often to give her an opportunity to go potty. Using a crate can help, because dogs prefer not to go where they sleep. If you must leave her for longer than her bladder can handle -- when you go to work, for example -- put her open crate in a small room, such as the bathroom, with puppy pads on the other side of the room. This gives her a place to relax and a place to potty without soiling her bed. Keep some toys, food and water near the crate as well. When you get home, take her out immediately, and plan to get up at least once during the night until she's about 6 months old.