How to potty train a dog in an apartment
Potty training a dog in an apartment comes with its own challenges, but it's possible with care and consistency
Potty training is one of the most important processes to go through when you get a new puppy or an older dog who isn't yet toilet trained.
By paying attention to your canine companion and watching the signs that they need to go, your dog can be accident-free in a month or two — even if it means regularly racing down flights of stairs so they can pee.
Make a potty training routine
For effective potty training, you need a routine. With a puppy, aim to take them outside to eliminate once every hour or two. Older dogs can wait a few hours between potty breaks. You should also take them outside roughly five to 10 minutes after drinking, eating, or playing. Keep mealtimes consistent as part of this routine. Once outside your apartment, take your dog to the same spot to do their business each time — this helps establish that they should attempt to eliminate when you take them to this place, while the rest of the outside is for having fun.
It's even more important to do this with young puppies who aren't yet fully vaccinated. They shouldn't really go outside in public places until they've finished their course of vaccinations, but if you stick to the same spot each time, it limits the risk. Even better if your apartment complex has its own private garden area.
Observe your dog for signs they need to go potty
If you're struggling with how to potty train a puppy in an apartment, it's worth noting that puppies usually show a range of signs before they need to pee or poop. This isn't always the case in older dogs, but it's worth keeping a close eye on them anyway. All dogs have their own way of signaling they need to go. Some dogs circle, others sniff or scratch at the carpet, or pace around looking restless. Once you've figured out how your dog tells you they need to go, you know when to rush them outside.
Get outside as quickly as possible
One of the additional challenges of potty training dogs in apartments is getting them outside quickly enough when they need to go urgently. Cleaning up pee and poop in your own apartment is bad enough, without having to do so in shared hallways. If you have a puppy or a small dog, we'd recommend scooping them up and carrying them outside to do their business. Walking to get outside will only stimulate their bowels and bladder, which is the last thing you need. If you can't pick your dog up, taking the elevator requires far fewer steps than taking the stairs so is usually a safer bet.
Always use positive reinforcement when potty training a dog
It's vital that you reinforce good behavior and never punish your dog for accidents. When your dog goes potty outside, reward them. Some dogs respond best to verbal praise, while others will learn more quickly with treats in the mix. If your dog isn't food-motivated, a quick play session with a favorite toy after they eliminate outside might help seal the deal.
Don't get discouraged when potty training your dog in an apartment — it can take a while for some dogs to get the hang of, but they'll get there with consistent positive reinforcement. If your dog goes inside, it’s best to just ignore it; don't tell them off when they're just learning and have no idea they did something wrong. In fact, any potty accidents are more often the fault of the owner not taking their dog outside often enough or watching out for the signs they need to go.
Utilize products to help avoid dog potty training accidents
Each time your dog pees or poops inside is a minor setback because it gives them the notion that toileting inside is an option. Therefore, the fewer accidents your dog has inside, the quicker they'll be reliably toilet trained. Luckily, you can buy a range of products that will help you out. Dogs often like to do their business in the same spot every time, so it's important you thoroughly clean any area in which your dog has an accident indoors. Enzymatic cleaners use enzymes to completely remove odors, rather than just covering them, so your dog won't smell old urine in a particular spot and assume it's a good place to go pee. We recognize that taking your dog outside in the middle of the night isn't always easy when you live in an apartment, so using an indoor potty or pee pads is a reasonable solution until your dog is able to make it through the night without needing to go.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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