How old to a Fully Potty Trained Dog?


Absent any medical condition or any other exigent circumstances most puppies should be fully potty trained between six (6) months and 18 months, with one (1) year being the average. If you’re struggling with your puppy’s potty training, here are some helpful tips on how to potty train your puppy.

It is sometimes very difficult to swallow why some dogs potty train quicker than others. It also becomes very difficult to digest if you, yourself has had dogs in the past that were much easier to potty train than your current puppy. Although, to make you feel better – there are many reason why potty training your puppy was quicker with your last pup.

Coming home daily to poop or pee is more than disgusting, it is frustrating and can be very discouraging.
That said, there are four (4) main reasons for the delay in having a well-potty trained dog which begs the question of how old to a fully potty trained dog for those that are struggling.

Why Is My Adult Dog Not Fully Potty Trained?

Again, the absence of any medical condition, or psychological reasons such as dog separation anxiety & housebreaking, your adult dog that is not fully potty trained is probably a result of not laying a good foundation – going too fast! And the mistake of not using the crate for potty training.

Before leaving your home without placing your puppy or dog in a crate, you must have close to %100 percent compliance with your pup’s potty training. Only then are you ready to leave. We get it, we know that you can’t wait to remove that crate and speed the process up to having a dog that is a little more independent. The real secret is patience. It goes a long way. We know, easier said than done.

We need for the puppy to fully form a habit of going to the bathroom outside. This is done not only by him going outside, but more importantly by PREVENTING him from having accidents inside.
If you’re skipping steps, a small stress or boredom can make a dog eliminate in the home when no one is home, especially if there is even a modicum of separation anxiety in your puppy.

Note: The real problem doesn’t come from testing your dog when leaving the home. No, the real obstacle begins when you keep leaving the home and returning to accidents outside of the crate; this is now becoming a habit as the dog has found himself what he believes to be his bathroom.

Expecting too Much Too Fast from Your Puppy’s Potty Training, Reason #1

Impatience is the number one culprit of delay! Far too many pet owners that we encounter have high expectations for their puppy regarding housebreaking and potty training. It always seems to be a race; how quick can we get rid of the crate!?

Undeniably, wanting to achieve quick outcomes in the potty training game is the greatest obstacle to many puppy owners that want reliable potty training results.

There is nothing wrong with setting the bar high for our canines (after all, we promote this ideology to our children); however, it is very important to understand that expectations must be realistic too and you MUST consider:

1) Your puppy’s age

2) Your puppy’s progress

3) Duration away from the home

4) How he or she is doing with potty training while you’re home

Potty training your puppy is a progression. Yet, so many puppy owners ignore the above considerations and take a “cross my fingers” approach. Don’t do it, you’ll probably find the error of your way in months to come. This is because the more you prematurely leave your puppy home and come home to a mess, the more that habit is becoming ingrained, we’re imprinting the wrong message. And like any habit, the stronger it gets, the longer it takes to break.

Puppy Potty Training, It’s a Marathon, Not a Race

For this reason, our Long Island puppy training lessons stress to all clients that potty training your puppy is a marathon not a race. Ironically, the marathon will get you to reliability quicker than the race. Many puppy owners prematurely try to see if they can leave and return to their uncrated puppy in hope of finding all the furniture in one piece and the white rug, still white.

Don’t be tempted by hope. Go with the facts and evidence, has your puppy showed you that he is ready for the next step – your absence?

In summary, how do we know when a puppy is ready to be left alone?
When he or she is near %100 percent reliable:

1) when you are home & then,

2) when you’re home and out of sight, then,

3) when you’re in and out of the home (backyard, porch, etc…)

Genetics and Puppy Potty Training, Reason #2

Like humans, genetics are the parts that we come with (or the parts we do not come with). It is our temperament and who we are. We can build on genetics, but we cannot modify or change our genes. For the purposes of potty training, there will be some dogs that are more comfortable being next to their poop or pee, while others will totally despise it! This is their natural response.

Humans are the same way – some people’s floors you can eat from and others you wouldn’t even want to walk on. It stinks (no pun intended) but it is the truth.

By the way, genetics is often overlooked in dog aggression leading many dog owners baffled when they realize that there are no quick fixes to dog aggression. So, let’s not dismiss a dog’s genetics whether for potty training or dog obedience training. Genetics must be observed, respected and considered when forming a training program for your dog or puppy. Your dog’s training platform should be designed around their personality (genetics) among other variables.

Environment and Puppy Potty Training, Reason #3

Maybe your canine has what many dog behaviorists and obedience trainers refer to as “solid nerves” or another term, “genetically sound.” Even more commonly in the dog training word as it pertains to potty training – a “clean dog (vs a dirty dog)”

A dog with good genetics can be sidetracked by an improper puppy potty training environment and program. For example, because of limited help many puppy stores & shelters often have the puppies go on paper in their crate and then change clean the crate and change the paper. Many times they are conditioned to eliminate in their crate, a lot of the puppies get used to sitting in it or near it until the attendant or volunteer cleans it. This puppy crate behavior can often carry on to their new home – your home!

It can be broken, but it will take more time than a puppy that did not begin potty training with this type of program. Which leads us into our last reason that potty training our dog becomes delayed – consistency.

Potty Training Your Dog Requires Consistency, Reason #4

As with any type of dog training, consistency is key. The more we (and our family, especially with potty training) are consistent in sending the right message to our puppy or dog regarding potty training the quicker you’ll speed up the process.

Unfortunately, we find that most puppy owners are very impatient, especially if they get a puppy that is a little difficult. This ofen leads them to jump from one dog potty training system to another (wee-wee pads, using a pen for potty training, fake grass, cat box (yes, a cat box), etc….

Another reason consistency may lack is when a dog hits a certain age we expect them to be at a certain level with potty training. And becasue we feel they should be potty trained, we ease up on the consistency and supervision & increase on the – HOPE!

Want to Have a Well Potty Trained Adult Dog?

In closing, if you have a puppy and want the question of how old to a fully potty trained dog answered, you’re probably setting your goals to high and quick. Often on our puppy potty training workshops on Long Island & Queens this is an indicator that the puppy owner may run the risk of skipping steps in the potty training process.

I cannot say this enough: it is a marathon, do not rush the puppy months (this goes for potty training and obedience training as well). You only get one chance at that professional dog trainers call the “foundation work.” It is the same as the house, once the walls, the floors, the painting are done, it, if possible, it is a task to do the foundation over – it is too late.

In dog training, when we fly through the foundation work and do not install good habits, we need the repair man to make patches here and there. It is better to dedicate time to your puppy’s potty training by NOT skipping steps and doing it ONCE, instead of having a hit or miss day when you return home to poop or pee!

Now, if you have a dog that is nearing one (1) years of age and it is not a genetic issue, this means that you’ve probably skipped a step or two (2) and/or probably went too fast and may be still HOPING (do not hope, train!) that the dog will just conform one day. This is a VERY big mistake – becasue the while you HOPE, the habit is getting stronger.

Forget about how old to a fully potty trained dog? Forget it. Because there is no answer. It is different for everyone. Stay the course, go backwards with using the crate for potty training regardless of your dog’s age.

Thanks for taking the time to read Dedicated Dog Training’s take on potty training,

Have a question or like to make a comment (positive or negative) please do so below!

Leave a comment

Long Island Dog Trainers | Dedicated Dog Training