How long can a puppy hold its poop (Potty Tips)

Becoming a puppy parent is a fun and exciting time. You will quickly learn that an essential part of puppy parenthood is teaching your pup how to potty outside. Understanding your puppy’s needs and learning about bladder and bowel control can significantly contribute to a successful potty training journey. One common question among new puppy owners is, “How long can a puppy hold its poop?” This blog post will explore this topic in-depth, providing valuable insights and practical potty training tips to help you navigate this critical stage of your furry friend’s development. 

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Approximate amount of time a puppy can hold their poop

0-1 month of age:

It’s unlikely that you would be a parent of young puppies this age since they are hopefully still with their mama for her milk. But, if you come across a very young puppy just born, they likely have no control over their bowel moments. You should expect frequent accidents and be prepared to clean up a lot of puppy poops.

Training Tip: Enclose the puppy in an area with puppy pads covering the floor and change them out often.

1-2 months of age:

A puppy of this age can hold their poop for about 1-2 hours. However, it’s still crucial to provide regular potty breaks to avoid accidents.

Training Tip: Might as well set an alarm to let the puppy out in the middle of the night to reduce clean up in the morning. Or it’s also a good idea to have lots of puppy pads down while you catch a few extra Zs. The good news is that eventually, your dog will sleep most of the day away once they are senior dogs. But, as a puppy, your sleep will be limited.

puppy pooping

2-3 months of age:

As puppies start to run around more, their muscles develop and they can hold their poop for about 2-3 hours Just think that this age is the time in which they start being able to hold their poop for the number of hours they are in age in months.

Training Tip: If you feed your puppy a regular intervals. For example, every morning at 7 am and every evening at 6 pm, then you are likely to have them poop within 30 minutes after they eat. Not every dog will be this way. Wes was actually a grazer. Essentially that meant we left food out for him at all times and he ate when he wanted but never under or over ate. But, if you have a food-motivated dog then you can likely put them on a poop schedule that aligns with their feeding schedule which gives you more structure on timing.

3-4 months of age:

At this age, younger dogs can typically hold their poop for up to 4 hours. However, remember that each pup is unique, so monitor their signals and adjust accordingly.

Training Tip: Keep an eye out for common signs such as circling, sniffing the ground, or becoming restless. These behaviors often indicate that your puppy needs to relieve itself. When you notice these signs, quickly take them to their designated potty area and give them ample time to do their business.

4-5 months of age:

Puppies are becoming more capable of holding their poop for up to 5 hours. Be patient during the training process and gradually increase the time between potty breaks.

Training Tip: You can start by extending the time between potty breaks by 15 to 30 minutes. For example, if you’ve been taking your puppy out every two hours, try increasing it to two hours and 15 minutes or two hours and 30 minutes. This gradual increase helps them adjust to longer intervals and builds their ability to hold their poop. Just be sure you allow them enough time to take care of their business. 

5-6 months of age:

By now, puppies can usually hold their poop for approximately 6 hours. Keep reinforcing good potty habits and provide ample opportunities for outdoor relief.

Training Tip: To reinforce good bathroom habits, provide immediate praise and rewards when your puppy successfully poops in the designated area. Use high-value treats and enthusiastic verbal praise to let them know they’ve done a great job.

6-8 months of age:

These months bring increased bladder control, allowing puppies to hold their poop for up to 8 hours. However, avoid pushing their limits and provide regular bathroom breaks. Be mindful not to stay out for 9-10 hours as they are still likely to have accidents. 

Training Tip: Consistency and patience remain key throughout the poop training process. Maintain a regular routine, use consistent cues, and be understanding of any setbacks that may occur. Remember that each puppy learns at their own pace

8-10 months of age:

With improved muscle control, puppies can often hold their poop for up to 10 hours. Maintain consistency in the potty routine to solidify their training.

Training Tip: While accidents may still happen occasionally, it’s crucial to stay patient and avoid punishment. Instead, focus on reinforcing the appropriate behavior and providing more opportunities for successful elimination

10-12 months of age:

As puppies near adulthood, they can typically hold their poop for 10-12 hours, similar to adult dogs. However, remember that individual factors and breed variations may still come into play. If you ever notice a sudden change in your dog’s bathroom behavior, it’s best to reach out to your vet to ensure there are no medical issues to address. 

Training Tip: Ensure your dog has access to fresh water and a balanced diet to support regular bowel movements. A healthy diet can contribute to more predictable bathroom habits. The best way is to use a refillable water dish for your dog like this one here. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to not allow your dog to go over the 10-12 hours holding their pee or poop. You can always hire a dog sitter or walker through sites like Rover to help if you know you will be away for a long day due to work or other obligations. 

a puppy laying down

Remember, these are general guidelines, and it’s essential to observe your puppy’s individual needs and adjust accordingly. Gradually increase the time between toilet breaks as your pup demonstrates reliable bladder control and signals their need to go. Your dog’s ability to hold their poop also is dependent on other factors just as their breed, age, if they have health issues or they may even just have performance anxiety about peeing or pooping. Let’s continue to review a few of the factors below and how you as a dog parent can help identify and train your puppy.

Size Matters

Yes, the size of a dog can influence how long it can hold its poop. Generally, larger dogs such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers tend to have larger bladders and can hold their poop for longer periods. However, it’s important to note that individual variations exist within each size category, and other factors such as age, health, and individual metabolism can also play a role.

Dachshunds or Chihuahuas, are generally smaller and have smaller bladders, and will need more potty breaks. They may have a harder time holding their poop for extended periods compared to larger breeds. Puppies, of course, of any size will have less control over their bladder and bowels and will require more frequent potty breaks.

It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your dog and provide them with appropriate opportunities for poop breaks based on their size, age, and individual factors. Regular potty breaks, consistent training, and understanding your dog’s cues and patterns can help ensure they are comfortable and have healthy bathroom habits.

Other Factors that play a role in how long a puppy can hold its poop

Additionally, some breeds may be more prone to certain health conditions that can affect their bowel control. While it is not accurate to say that certain breeds of dogs universally have a hard time holding their poop, there are some breeds that may be more prone to issues related to bowel control or digestive health. There are a lot of factors that can play a role in how long a puppy can hold its poop. Below you will find a few of those factors to consider:

Small Toy Breeds:

Small dog breeds such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, or Shih Tzus may have smaller bladders and less holding capacity, making it more challenging for them to hold their poop for extended periods.

Brachycephalic Breeds:

Brachycephalic breeds with short muzzles, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, or Boxers, can sometimes experience gastrointestinal issues due to their unique anatomical features. This can affect their bowel control to some extent.

Older Dogs:

As dogs age, their muscle tone and control over bodily functions can weaken, including their ability to hold their poop. This is not specific to any particular breed but is more common among elderly dogs.

Dogs with Digestive or Bowel Disorders:

Certain breeds may be predisposed to digestive or bowel disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Breeds like German Shepherds, Boxers, or French Bulldogs may have a higher risk of these conditions, which can impact their bowel control.

It's important to note that these tendencies or risks can vary from individual to individual, and it's not a guarantee that all dogs of these breeds will have difficulty holding their poop because of a medical condition. Always speak with your vet if you have concerns about your puppy not being able to hold their bowel movements for very long or holding for too long and becoming constipated. 

What Happens to a Puppy If They Hold Their Poop for Too Long?

As dog parents, we strive to ensure the well-being of our adorable furry companions, including their bathroom habits. It’s natural to wonder what might happen if your puppy holds their poop for an extended period. While occasional delays in bathroom breaks are bound to happen, regularly withholding their bowel movements can lead to a few unfavorable consequences. Let’s take a closer look at what could occur if your pup holds its poop for too long:

Discomfort and Digestive Issues:

Just like humans, when puppies hold their poop, it can cause discomfort and put a strain on their digestive system. The longer the waste stays inside, the drier and harder it becomes, making it difficult and painful for them to pass. This can lead to constipation, bloating, and an overall upset tummy.

Increased Risk of Accidents:

Holding their poop for an extended period can make it challenging for puppies to control their bowel movements effectively. When they finally can’t hold it any longer, accidents are more likely to happen indoors or in undesirable places, disrupting your potty training progress.

Urinary Tract Infection:

Holding in poop for too long can also have a negative impact on your puppy’s urinary system. The rectum and urethra are closely positioned, and when poop presses against the bladder for an extended period, it can hinder proper urine flow, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Behavioral Changes:

Puppies that consistently hold their poop may develop behavioral issues related to their bathroom habits. They might become anxious, stressed, or even resort to eating their feces (a condition known as coprophagia) as a desperate attempt to hide the evidence. These behavioral changes can be challenging to address and may require additional training and guidance.

To ensure your puppy’s health and happiness, it’s crucial to establish a consistent potty routine and provide them with regular opportunities to relieve themselves. Pay attention to their signals, such as circling, sniffing, or restlessness, indicating that they need to go. If you notice any signs of discomfort, persistent constipation, or urinary issues, consult your veterinarian for appropriate guidance.

Remember, potty training is a process, and accidents are bound to happen along the way. Stay patient, be consistent with your training efforts, and create a positive and supportive environment for your puppy to develop healthy bathroom habits.

Here are some poop training tips for new dog owners of puppies:

Establish a Routine:

Establishing a consistent potty routine is crucial for successful poop training. Take your puppy out to the designated potty area at regular intervals throughout the day, such as after meals, naps, playtime, and waking up in the morning or after a nap. 

Use Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is key when it comes to potty training. Praise and reward your puppy with treats, verbal praise, and petting every time they successfully poop in the designated area. This positive association encourages them to repeat the behavior.

Watch for Signs:

Keep a close eye on your puppy for signs that they need to go. Sniffing around, circling, restlessness, or suddenly stopping an ongoing activity are typical indications that they need to relieve themselves. When you notice these signs, promptly take them to their potty spot.

Accidents Happen:

Accidents are a natural part of the potty training process. If you catch your puppy in the act of pooping indoors, quickly interrupt them with a gentle “no” and immediately take them outside to finish. Avoid scolding or punishing them, as it may create fear or confusion. Clean up accidents thoroughly using enzymatic cleaners to remove any lingering scent that may attract them back to the same spot.

Use Crate Training:

Crate training can be an effective tool for potty training. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their sleeping area clean, so using a crate that is appropriately sized for your puppy can help teach them bladder and bowel control. Take them directly outside from the crate when you let them out, reducing the chances of accidents.

Be Patient and Consistent:

Potty training takes time and patience. Stay consistent with your routine, praise and reward their successes, and be understanding during accidents. Avoid punishment or scolding, as it can create fear and hinder their progress. Remember that each puppy is unique, and they will learn at their own pace.

By following these tips and maintaining a positive and consistent approach, you'll be well on your way to successful poop training with your new furry friend. Enjoy the process, embrace the occasional mishap, and celebrate every milestone achieved along the way!

What else can help new dog owners of puppies when potty training?

When it comes to poop training your new puppy, there are several helpful products and tools that can make the process smoother and more convenient. Here are some items that new puppy parents may find beneficial:

Puppy Pads or Indoor Turf Potty:

Puppy pads or indoor turf potties provide a designated area indoors where your puppy can relieve themselves. These options are particularly useful if you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor access. They help contain messes and make cleanup easier. We had puppy pads EVERyWHERE when Wes was a puppy, it saves so much on cleanup and also helps with the constant spraying of cleaning solutions.

Crate or Playpen:

A crate or playpen can be a valuable tool for potty training. Dogs naturally avoid soiling in their sleeping or confined areas. Utilizing a properly sized crate or playpen when you cannot supervise your puppy helps prevent accidents and teaches them to hold their bladder and bowels. We used a lot of baby gates and gradually opened up the house to more and more rooms as Wes got older. Check with a friend or mom’s Facebook group to see if anyone is giving away baby gates to help save on the cost of them.

Poop Bags:

Stock up on poop bags for easy and sanitary cleanup during potty training walks. Choose biodegradable bags to minimize your environmental impact. Having a dedicated poop bag dispenser that attaches to your leash can ensure you’re always prepared. Nothing is worse than being out and about and your dog poops and you are “that person” who does not have a bag to clean up their mess!

Enzymatic Cleaners:

Accidents are bound to happen during the potty training process. Enzymatic cleaners are specifically designed to remove stains and odors from pet messes. They break down the organic matter, eliminating residual scents that might attract your puppy back to the same spot. This is the cleaner we have always used and it works great and doesn’t smell terrible either.

Treats for Rewards:

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in poop training. Have a stash of small, soft, and highly enticing treats on hand to reward your puppy immediately after they successfully poop in the designated area. This positive association encourages them to repeat the desired behavior. Click on the image below to try a great dog food and treat brand and you can grab a sample from their website too!

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Clicker:

A clicker is a training tool that makes a distinct clicking sound to mark the desired behavior. Pair the clicker with treats during potty training sessions. Click when your puppy begins to eliminate in the appropriate spot, followed by a reward. This helps reinforce the connection between the click, desired behavior, and reward. I tried a clicker with Wes and it never worked but I think it was more me than him!

Long Leash or Flexi-Leash:

A longer leash or a flexi-leash can be useful during potty training walks. It provides your puppy with a bit more freedom to explore while still keeping them under your control. This allows them to find a suitable spot to poop while you maintain supervision. Click on the image below to check out some of our favorite dog leashes and harnesses.

Remember, while these products can be helpful, they are not substitutes for consistency, patience, and proper training techniques. The most important thing is to provide your puppy with clear guidance, positive reinforcement, and plenty of opportunities to succeed in their potty training journey. Puppies can still get scared from loud noises and pee or if they are in a new home they might find they need to mark their territory. Wes was, unfortunately, a marker. So every time we went into a new home when he was a puppy, I really had to watch him and his leg lift. 

Summary

In the blog post “How Long Can a Puppy Hold Its Poop (Potty Tips),” we explore the important topic of puppy potty training and provide valuable insights for new puppy parents. We discuss the factors that can influence a puppy’s ability to hold its poop, such as age, size, and breed. From there, we offer practical and lighthearted tips tailored to different age ranges, starting from 2-3 months old up to 10-12 months old. Readers will find advice on establishing a consistent potty routine based on the age of your puppy, understanding their puppy’s cues, using positive reinforcement, and gradually increasing independence. With these tips, new pet parents can navigate the journey of poop training with confidence and help their furry friends develop good bathroom habits as adult dogs. Be sure to check out other puppy training tips in this post here.