How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment

Image of a small brown puppy looking up

If you have just gotten a new puppy and live in an apartment, potty training can come with some challenges.

Most apartments do not have a fenced-in area off each apartment that you can let your dog out into to potty. Potty training your dog in your apartment requires you to take them outside on a leash each time to potty.

This article will give you many tips and tricks on how to potty train a puppy in an apartment.

When to Start Potty Training a Puppy

You can start to potty train your dog as soon as they are weaned from their mother.

Most dogs will need a few weeks to months before they are fully potty trained.

The bladder is made of many sphincters to help hold urine in the bladder. Dogs cannot fully control their sphincter until they are around 12 weeks of age. You should not expect your dog to be completely potty trained until they are at least 12 weeks old.

All dogs will develop a little differently. Some dogs may be potty trained relatively fast while other dogs might need more time. Do not get discouraged if your dog takes a little longer than normal.

Tips on How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment

When first starting to potty train your dog, it’s best to follow a few simple tips. These will ensure that you and your puppy start off on the right track when learning to use the potty.

Have a Feeding Schedule

Image of a small brown dog next to a clock ready to potty as a step to take on how to potty train a puppy in an apartment

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Give them their allotment of food at a certain time every morning, noon and night if you’re feeding them 3 times a day. Do not leave food down in between meals.

Make Frequent Trips Outside

Image of a small puppy on a welcome mat ready to go outside to potty

As soon as you and your puppy wake up in the morning, take them outside to potty. During the day, take them outside every few hours. These frequent trips will help decrease the number of accidents in the apartment.

Take Your Puppy Out After Naps and Mealtimes

Image of a small corgi puppy eating from a bowl before going outside to potty

Make sure to take your puppy outside right after they eat or when they wake up from a nap. These are the most common times that your puppy will need to potty.

Take Your Puppy Out Before Bedtime

Image of a woman taking her puppy out before bedtime as potty training

Take your puppy outside right before bedtime. This will help them be able to sleep soundly during the night and not need to potty in the middle of the night.

Take Your Puppy to The Same Spot

Every time you take your puppy outside to potty, take them to the same spot. Their scent will be in this spot and help prompt them to go potty.

Watch Your Puppy Potty

Stay outside and watch to make sure that they’re going. Once they are house trained, you do not have to go outside with them each time, if you have a yard where that’s possible to do.

Praise Your Puppy

Image of someone praising their puppy for going potty outside

When your puppy does potty outside, praise them, and give them a treat. Make sure that you give them a treat outside as soon as they are done. If you wait until you come back inside, your puppy will think that they are being rewarded for coming into the house.

Put Waste Outside

When you’re cleaning up your dog’s accidents in the house, use an old towel. Take this outside and pick a spot that your puppy frequently goes to when they are pottying. Put this towel in that spot. This will help transfer the smell of the waste from in the house to outside in their spot. Each time take your dog directly to this towel. Eventually, your dog will associate this spot as their bathroom spot.

How Often a Puppy Needs to Be Let Outside

It depends on age, but puppies need to go outside every 1 to 4 hours during the day. Many times, this can be very difficult with work or school schedules.

One good option for ensuring you can look at hiring a pet walking service that can come by your apartment each day and let your dog out.

Also, do not be afraid to ask friends, family members, and even neighbors to help. You may be surprised to find that many of them would love to stop by and let your puppy out. This allows them to also play with your new cute puppy.

What to Do if You Cannot Let Your Dog Out While at Work

Sometimes there may not be anyone that can let your dog outside during the day. There are other things that you can consider doing to help with potty training.

Restricting a puppy to a certain area

While you’re gone, you can keep your dog in an area with tile floors such as a kitchen or bathroom. This makes cleaning up after your dog easier as you do not have to hunt for the accidents in the house.

Try Using a Crate

Image of a havanese puppy being crate trained for potty training in an apartment

Crate training your dog can also help. Most dogs will learn to potty outside quicker if they are trained to sleep in a crate when you’re gone. Most dogs do not like to potty in the same area that they are sleeping in.

Try Using a Puppy Pad

Image of a puppy pad in an apartment for potty training

Many dogs can easily be trained to use a puppy pad. These can be disposable or washable pads. Your puppy will urinate or defecate on these pads while you are gone, and all you need to do is wash the pads or throw them away. However, a downfall to training your dog to use a puppy pad is that they may see any rug in your house as an acceptable place to use the bathroom.

How to Train Your Dog to Use a Crate

  • Make sure the crate that you buy is large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down in. Make sure that it is not too big that they can use a corner as a bathroom while still having plenty of room to sleep.
  • If your puppy will be left in the crate for more than two hours, make sure your puppy has fresh water. It is easier if the water is in a dispenser, you can attach to the side of their crate. This will prevent any spillage.
  • If your puppy is eliminating in their crate, crate training may not work for you and your puppy. Pottying in the crate could have many different meanings, such as:
    • Brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store
    • May not be going outside enough
    • The crate may be too big
    • May be too young to hold it

Signs That Your Puppy May Need to Use the Bathroom

Your dog will give you key signs that they need to use the bathroom. Watch your dog for a few days right before they potty and you will be able to pick up on these subtle hints. Most dogs that need to use the bathroom will:

  • Whine
  • Bark at you
  • Sniff the ground
  • Scratch at the floor
  • Walk in circles

These are all common signs that your dog needs to go to the bathroom. Make sure to look for the signs and take your dog outside as soon as you notice anything. Most puppies cannot hold their bladder’s very long and may have an accident if you try to wait.

Things to Remember When Potty Training Your Dog

When potty training your dog, there are many do’s and don’ts that you should consider.

  • DO NOT punish your puppy if they have an accident in the house. Tell them no when you catch them pottying in the house and take them directly outside to their spot. By being aggressive, your puppy may learn to be afraid of you.
  • DO let them know when they are doing something wrong. Clapping your hands and telling them no will let them know that they have done something wrong and unacceptable.
  • DO NOT rub their nose in their mess. Puppies do not have the mental capability to know that what they did is wrong by you rubbing your dog’s nose in their mess.
  • DO praise your dog when they do the right thing. Make pottying outside a big deal. Praise them by telling them that they are a good boy or girl and give them a treat outside right after they go.
  • DO stay outside as long as they may need it. Some puppies will easily get distracted while they are outside. Make sure that you stay with them outside as long as they need to do their business.
  • DO NOT let them play with another dog until they have gone potty. When you take your dog outside, do not let them play with any of the other dogs in the apartment complex until your dog has done their business. Puppies will want to go play with other dogs and will forget the main reason that they came outside was to potty. Some dogs also need that extra time to find the perfect bathroom spot.
  • DO clean up all accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based one. This will help minimize the odors that would attract your puppy back to the same spot.


By using the tips and tricks and having a little patience, you can learn how to potty train a puppy in an apartment.

Living in an apartment and training your puppy to potty outside can be a lot of work. The hard work you put into potty training your puppy, will eventually pay off when your dog is fully potty trained.

Do not easily get discouraged if your dog does not learn as quickly as other dogs, as each puppy will learn to potty outside at their own pace.

If you are having success and then have a setback, do not get discouraged. This is just one small hurdle that you must overcome to have your puppy fully potty trained.