Skip to content

THE Essential Puppy Potty Training Tip – Hint: Schedules Matter | Pupford

January 3rd, 2024

Filed under Training

Featured Image

Often the first thing new pup parents search for is puppy potty training tips (no one wants to clean pee from their carpet constantly).

And you can find LOADS of information and tips about potty training, but there is one essential tip you can’t skip out on…

It is setting a schedule and timers and following them to a T. That is the most effective puppy potty training tip. Period.

While that may sound simple, new pup parents often forget and neglect it.

The result? ⬇️

Accidents, frustration, and a confused pup. So, let’s dive deeper into what your potty schedule should be, how to follow it, and a few other basic puppy potty training tips!

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • The laws of learning, specifically in relation to puppy potty training
  • Puppy potty schedules
    • Daytime
    • Nighttime
  • FAQs about puppy potty training
  • Extra potty training tips and resources

Let’s dive in! 👇

PS- This article is helpful for all types of potty training. We also have an article with specific advice for potty training an adult dog.


Want to hear more podcasts like this? Please click here.


Want to see more videos like this? Please click here.


Before we cover the essential potty training tip, it’s important to discuss why potty training a puppy can be so d*rn difficult.

Dogs (and most animals for that matter) learn through operant conditioning. Behavior is determined by learned sequences.

Every action has a consequence and dogs learn what actions produce consequences that help or improve their well-being and experience.

a dog learning to be potty trained through operant conditioning

So, let’s break it down for potty training specifically.

Note: This is an overly simplistic explanation. I’d recommend studying the four quadrants of operant conditioning. It will improve your puppy training experience dramatically.

Part 1- Your puppy has an urge to pee, and that is undesirable for him or her

Part 2- Your puppy relieves themself

Part 3- The urge to pee is gone and your puppy feels better

Since they went pee and there was no ”bad” consequence, your puppy determines that relieving themself is a good thing. So in just a few moments, a learned sequence has occurred.

Your puppy has started to create an association that relieving themself is a net positive for them. And since dogs are opportunistic animals, they will continue to do what is a net positive for them.

THAT is why the essential, key, vitally important (use any other word you’d like) tip for puppy potty training is to set up as many successful outdoor potty experiences as possible! That way your puppy can create that association outside and not on your carpet.

Generally speaking, your window for rewarding or punishing (I’m not condoning this, just making the point) your dog is within 5-10 seconds of the behavior occurring. That’s why the idea of rubbing your puppy’s nose in their accident once you find it is completely absurd and truthfully pointless.

🐶 Don't miss out, get extra potty & crate training help with the 100% free online video class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up here! 🐶

If you stumble on your puppy’s accident in the home a minute or two after it happened, the window of learning is closed. Any type of punishment wouldn’t be connected (in the puppy’s mind) to the accident.

So, if you do stumble upon an accident, there’s nothing to do.

Just clean it up (using an enzymatic cleaner for dog poop & urine so your pup won’t return to that area for potty accidents again) and vow to monitor your pup more closely and stick to your schedule!

Related Reading: How Much Time Should I Spend With My Puppy?


dog near a human looking up a puppy potty schedule

Now that we’ve discussed why potty training can be so difficult, let’s dive into the essential tip for making it much much easier.

Moreso than anything else, setting a puppy potty schedule with timers and sticking to it will provide the fastest road to potty training success.

Having a schedule is one thing, but setting timers will keep you on track with that schedule! So, if you decide you need to take your puppy out every 60 minutes, set a timer to remind you.

Once the timer goes off, take your puppy out to potty and then repeat that process.

The biggest potty training mistake pup parents make is thinking they can just guess when their puppy will need to pee. Do NOT do this. Young puppies are not capable of telling you when they need to pee!

While you need to find a potty schedule that works for your specific schedule, here is a general template for potty training your new puppy. We’ll break it down into daytime and nighttime since there will be some differences!


puppy potty schedule for young puppies and new pup owners

That schedule above is a great framework if you’re just starting out. BUT, I would actually recommend taking your puppy out more frequently than that shows, especially for very young puppies.

PS- You can also click here to access a free printable version to stick on your fridge or mirror!

For puppies 8-10 weeks, I would recommend setting a timer for 45-90 minutes and taking your pup out every time the timer goes off.

I gave a range there for two reasons.

#1- Every puppy is different

#2- Size plays a role in how often your puppy will need to pee. Smaller dogs will need to go more often than larger dogs

I can already hear you saying ‘every 45 minutes, that seems like way too much work and time’. 😜

Well, let me tell you this… It is much easier to take a pup out more frequently and have successful potty breaks outside than it is to try and untrain a learned behavior of going potty inside.

a puppy learning the ropes of potty training

Your main goal when potty training a young puppy is to give your pup as many opportunities as possible to go potty outside and be rewarded (heavily) for that.

I’ll say it again. Your focus with a new puppy should be to provide ample chances for your young pup to do their business outside, not inside!

Because remember (from above), that every time your pup goes potty inside they are naturally reinforced by no longer having an urge to pee.

As your pup ages, you can extend those timers up to around 1.5 to 3 hours. And generally speaking, when a puppy is about 5-6 months old they have a mature bladder and can hold it longer.

You’ll quickly find what timing works best as your pup progresses, but avoid the trap of trying to overextend the interval between potty breaks. That’s when accidents happen!


Here’s a breakdown of what a daytime puppy potty routine can look like. Again, tweak according to your schedule’s and pup’s needs!

  1. Take your pup out as soon as they wake up
  2. Take your pup out about 10-20 minutes after breakfast
  3. Take your pup out every 45-90 minutes after the breakfast potty break
  4. Take your pup out about 10-20 minutes after lunch
  5. Take your pup out every 45-90 minutes after the lunch potty break
  6. Take your pup out about 10-20 minutes after dinner
  7. Take your pup out every 45-90 minutes after the dinner potty break
  8. Take your pup out right before bedtime

I know, I know it sounds intense, but it will work! And when you stay diligent in the beginning stages of puppy potty training, it will be much easier in the long run.

What about nighttime? ⬇️

🐶 Don't miss out, get extra potty & crate training help with the 100% free online video class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up here! 🐶


puppy sleeping in crate as part of their nighttime puppy routine

Nighttime will be slightly different than daytime because puppies can typically hold it a bit longer while they are sleeping.

  1. Take your pup out right before bedtime
  2. Take your pup out every 2-3 hours during the night
  3. Take your pup out as soon as they wake up

I’ll be the first to say, this part of having a puppy is… Not fun. I love sleep more than anyone else I know, and making this process work is a sacrifice.

But again, early sacrifices at the beginning of housebreaking a puppy will make the world of difference in the long run.

As your pup ages, you can extend these night timers up to about every 3-5 hours. And remember, this isn’t a forever thing.

But I’ll say this for the 10th time, be very careful not to overextend your puppy.


a puppy holding it for their age in months plus 1

Well, you may be wondering what to do if you need to leave your puppy alone (duh, we all have lives).

I’ll say this for the 27th time now, do your best to not overextend your puppy’s bladder.

But, generally speaking, a pup can hold it 1 hour longer than their age in months. This is known as the month + 1 rule.

So, if you have a 4-month-old puppy they can typically hold it for their age (4) + 1 = 5 hours.

The caveat here is that every puppy is different. Smaller puppies often need to pee more frequently while larger puppies can typically hold it longer.

🐶 Don't miss out, get extra potty & crate training help with the 100% free online video class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up here! 🐶


I hope you can see a trend here… Do your best to not overextend your puppy and try to give them as many opportunities as possible to go potty outside, not inside!

Now, let’s cover some of the frequently asked questions about puppy potty training schedules!


human taking puppy outside to go potty during the day

Your goal with a new puppy is to give them as many opportunities as possible to go potty outside and be rewarded.

With that being said, you should take a new puppy out to go potty every 45-90 minutes. The range is there because smaller dogs will need to go more frequently than larger dogs.

Set a timer. When the timer goes off, take your puppy out to go potty. Repeat!


a puppy sleeping at night

This is a tricky question because every dog is different, but generally speaking, puppies can hold their pee for 1 hour more than their age in months.

So, a 3-month-old puppy can hold it for about 4 hours (3 + 1). Of course, smaller dogs will be able to hold it for shorter times and larger dogs will likely be longer.

With that being said, dogs generally gain a mature bladder by about 5-6 months old. So our recommendation is to not try to let your dog sleep through the night without peeing until they are about 6 months old or so!

The key to puppy potty training is to not force your dog into making a decision where they have to pee inside. You want to give ample opportunity to go out and be rewarded for pottying outside.


If you’re wanting to wake up less frequently to take your puppy out then you should limit your puppy’s water at night.

This will depend on your schedule, but you won’t want to let your puppy drink a lot of water within 1-2 hours of bedtime. Of course, if your puppy needs water then you shouldn’t withhold it.

But, you can typically start to limit your puppy’s intake for a couple of hours leading up to bedtime.


human figuring out the basics of puppy potty training with their puppy

The most essential tip for effective puppy potty training is to set a schedule and set timers to remind yourself to take your puppy out.

You should take your puppy out every 45-90 minutes for young puppies.

As your puppy grows you can extend that time up closer to 1.5-3 hours until your puppy is fully potty trained. You’ll know your pup is fully potty trained when they haven’t had an accident for one month straight!

Following a schedule and sticking to your timers will give you the fastest route to successful puppy potty training!

How has keeping a schedule helped your puppy? Let me know in the comments below!

And don't forget to sign up for our 100% free (no credit card required) online dog training course, 30 Day Perfect Pup with Zak George! You'll get even more in-depth training tips for potty training your pup, leash walking, chewing/biting & more. Sign up for free here!

And before you go, be sure to check out some extra resources and tips in the next section.

Happy potty training! 💩

🐶 Don't miss out, get extra potty & crate training help with the 100% free online video class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up here! 🐶


Curious if (and when) you should use potty pads? Read our full potty pad guide here.

Want to teach your pup to let you know when they need to pee? Learn about potty bell training here. (PS- this should not be your focus in the beginning of potty training)

Watch this POV-style video from Trevor Smith CPDT-KA to see his experience potty training his puppy!

Already had some accidents (it will surely happen)? Learn how to get pee out of carpet here.

Shop top potty training products like pads, enzymatic cleaner, poop bags, and more here!
Want a deeper dive into potty training? Get access to the Potty Training Course taught by Traci Madson CPDT-KA here


Your Cart

Shipping & taxes calculated at checkout