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How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment

Nothing is more exciting than bringing home a new puppy! That fluffy little ball of energy will soon be your new best friend. But potty training a puppy in an apartment can be challenging. Not all dogs have a backyard or immediate access to the outside.

Fluffy is here to help!

Why Do Apartment Puppies Need to be Potty Trained…ASAP!?

Housebreaking a puppy in an apartment is important because a well-trained dog makes for a good companion. Puppies who live in an upstairs apartment or high-rise building can’t go outside to relieve themselves on their own. So, they rely on YOU (their owner) to teach them about indoor/outdoor potty options.

Avoid complaints from neighbours or messy accidents in the hallways by potty training your puppy early on. They will thank you!

How to Potty Train a Puppy in an Apartment in 10 Steps

  1. Get into a routine. Puppies learn quickest when they know what to expect. First thing in the morning, take your puppy to their designed “potty area.” Feed and walk them at the same time slots throughout the day. A neighbour or dog walker can help you get into a consistent routine.

  2. Schedule frequent potty breaks. Multiple your puppy’s age in months by hours. That’s how long they can hold it. For example, a two-month-old puppy can generally wait two hours before needing to use the potty. Schedule breaks accordingly.

  3. Offer rewards. Give your puppy their favourite treat whenever they successfully go potty in the correct spot. Clap your hands, use a happy voice, and praise them with lots of love and affection.

  4. Be on the lookout for signs. Circling, whining, sniffing, and scratching at the door are all signs that your puppy needs to leave the apartment…now! Be on alert.

  5. Carry your puppy to the elevator. Nobody likes smelling pee or poop in the hallway. Be considerate of your apartment building cohabitants. If you think your puppy is about to have an accident, scoop them up in your arms and quickly carry them to the elevator or stairs.

  6. Pick an outside spot. Take your puppy to a grassy patch. Always go to the same area.

  7. Catch your puppy in the act. See your puppy squatting on the carpet? Loudly interrupt them and say, “No!” or “Stop!”

  8. Designate an indoor potty area. Outdoor potty options aren’t always available. Train your puppy to use an indoor pee pad or dog litter box.

  9. Use verbal commands. Decide on a phrase you will say to encourage good bathroom behaviour. For example, “Go potty” or “Do your business.” Dogs are smart. Your puppy will soon associate these words with eliminating themselves.

  10. Practice makes perfect. Be patient. Practice getting your puppy on a leash, walking down the hall, and going outside for potty breaks. Do this every single day.

Popular Potty Training Tools For Puppies in an Apartment

Use the following tools to quickly educate your dog about when and where to go potty.

  • Bells. Set one up by the apartment door.

  • Pee Pads. Convenient, washable, and made with a scent to encourage use.

  • Dog Litter Boxes. Perfect for apartment-dwellers who have access to a balcony.

  • Artificial Grass. Synthetic or real grass is absorbent and cheap.

  • Crate. Put a crate in your apartment. At bedtime, keep your puppy inside. This will cut down on the frequency of overnight accidents since puppies don’t like to sleep where they go potty. The AKC has an excellent guide to crate training.

How to Get Your Puppy on a Schedule

Start a puppy potty log of dates and times. This will keep your puppy on schedule as well as track progress. Read more about setting up a schedule for puppies and potty training for adults dogs here

How to Clean Up an Accident


Your puppy had an accident in the apartment. No big deal. But will need to clean up the mess right away to avoid smells and to halt bad habits from forming. Use an enzymatic cleaning spray to get rid of urine smell, as recommended by PetMD.

Do’s and Don’ts of Apartment Potty Training

  • Do be consistent

  • Do learn to watch your puppy’s behaviour changes

  • Do use positive reinforcement

  • Do praise success with pats, hugs, and treats

  • Don’t punish accidents

  • Don’t “rub their nose in it”

Benefits of Quickly Potty Training a Puppy When Your Live In an Apartment

Housebroken puppies = happy pet owners. The benefits of having a potty trained puppy in an apartment include:

  • Fewer accidents

  • Lower stress levels

  • Fewer problems with building management or landlords

  • No odours

  • Can leave a puppy alone for longer periods of time

How Long Does Potty Training Take?

Most puppies take 4-6 months to be fully housetrained. Remember, young puppies cannot hold their bladders and bowels for as long as older dogs. The key to fast potty training is consistency.

Ultimately, when it comes to potty training your puppy in an apartment, keep at it! Soon, you will have a paw-sitively perfect puppy to share your home with.