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Learning how to potty train a Lab puppy is an essential part of your puppy’s development. The keys to teaching your Lab puppy where to take potty breaks are proper management, appropriate supervision, regular outings, and positive reinforcement. Punishment has no place in potty training a puppy!
With time and patience, you will be able to successfully train your Lab puppy to use the outdoors as their exclusive potty area.
How to potty train your Labrador puppy will depend on what works best for you and your family. It’s essential to plan for house training your Lab puppy, so make sure you do some research.
The following steps below will help you conquer this process.
How Long Does it Take Potty Train a Labrador Puppy?
House training (or potty training) a Lab puppy can take several weeks to months—depending on many factors, including your circumstances, size, and the dog’s previous living history.
Some pups learn faster than others, but they can still have accidents up to 12 months old. Never punish your Lab puppy for having an accident, as this is normal.
Let’s examine the various factors that influence toilet training your Labrador puppy:
- Situation. The time it takes your Labrador puppy to be potty trained may vary depending on where you live. For instance, if you live in a high-rise apartment or have difficulty getting your puppy outside, it may take you a while to house train your Lab puppy. In that case, using puppy pads or sheets of the newspaper during housebreaking is advised.
- History. Lab puppies from rescues or those bred in poor living conditions might need a little longer to master toilet training. Before learning new ones, you must break destructive behaviors (like soiling the crate). For example, you should not use a crate if your dog has been confined to a cage all his life and has a habit of soiling the crate.
- Medical problems. Medical issues could prolong your Lab puppy’s potty training. If your puppy can’t potty outside, he may have a urinary tract infection. If he’s pooping in the house, he might have worms or other intestinal parasites. Visit the vet to rule out any medical problems. If your puppy is anxious about his crate, it could prolong his potty training time.
- Size of the puppy. Dogs of different sizes may take different amounts of time to be finished with house training. In this study, smaller dog breeds took longer to potty train than large breeds. More studies are needed to explore the differences between breeds and sizes fully.
- Technique. Many pet parents make mistakes when training their puppies. Physical punishment, yelling, or rubbing your puppy’s nose in his poop or pee after an accident will only cause your puppy to fear and distrust you.
Equipment for Potty Training a Labrador Puppy
When you bring home a new Lab puppy, you’re going to need some supplies in case he has an accident on your rug.
You will need the following items to begin potty training your Lab puppy. Be sure that all of these items are pet-friendly and of a reputable brand name.
- Dog Crates
- Harness or Collar and leash
- Potty Pads or Dog Litter Boxes
- Tasty small-sized treats
- Dog Poop Bags
- Carpet cleaner for pet stains
- Flashlight or Blacklight
- Stain Remover
- Lots of love!
Are Lab Puppies Hard to Potty Train?
Labrador Retrievers are ranked 7th of all dog breeds for intelligence, according to renowned canine psychologist Stanley Cohen in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Labs can be stubborn about potty training, though.
Lab puppies are brilliant and highly social. As long as you establish a schedule with consistent training principles, potty training should be a breeze. They will also find house training easy as they love physical and mental stimulation.
Thanks to their friendly disposition and easy trainability, many people find Labs a good family dog. They are often used in search and rescue, therapy dogs, and guide dogs.
If you have trouble potty training your Lab, you’ve come to the right place!
When to Begin Potty Training
As you bring a new Lab pup home, there are many things to do: set up a schedule, introduce your puppy to his crate, start basic obedience training, visit the veteran for a first check-up, etc. So, when should you begin potty training?
The minute you get your Lab puppy home, take him to his elimination area and wait for him to pee. When he does relieve himself, praise him. The more often you take your Lab outside, the faster he will learn that’s where you want him to go.
Your goal is to prevent accidents in the house because that is where your puppy will most likely have an accident, especially if he has already had accidents there before.
Supervision is Key
Remember that puppies need supervision to avoid indoor accidents and learn to interact comfortably with people and objects. Puppies often chew things and nip people until they are lovingly taught otherwise. Keeping your puppy in view during the day will help you teach him good habits (and avoid bad ones).
While giving your puppy a little freedom is fine, always be aware of how full his bladder is. Your puppy will communicate with you in various ways throughout the day, and you need to be able to identify and interpret those signs.
One reason why your Lab puppy goes potty in the wrong spot is that you haven’t recognized the signs they give. Dogs will often make circles, sniff, sit near the door, wander off, or whine to indicate they need to go to the toilet.
When you take your puppy outside for potty breaks, put the puppy on a leash; This will not only help your puppy get comfortable with being on a leash but will also allow you to reward good behavior quickly. Rewarding your pup will help create positive associations with going outside. Play with your Lab afterward so that returning inside doesn’t become a negative experience.
Pick a Puppy Potty Training Method
Different Lab parents train their pups in different ways; some prefer using a dog crate, while others prefer a dog training pad. Each approach has its benefits throughout the entire training process.
Crate training is a helpful tool for potty training your Labrador puppy and establishing a place it can call its own. Dogs tend to prefer den-like spaces for eating and resting, so crate training helps create that type of environment.
By training your Lab puppy to spend time in a crate, you can stop them from having accidents in the house. The crate should not be used as a form of punishment, but it should only be used when you cannot directly supervise the puppy, and it should also be a part of your puppy’s naptime and bedtime routine.
Picking the correct crate size is essential, especially if you have a Labrador puppy that will grow rapidly. Make sure your Lab puppy has enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
If your puppy has too much room, he will be able to settle down in one corner and relieve himself in the other. Some crates come with a divider that you can use to give him more space as he grows.
Frisco Fold & Carry Double Collapsible Wire Door Dog Crate and Frisco Indoor & Outdoor Soft Dog Crate are suitable for brief confinement periods and prevent accidents overnight. If your puppy keeps escaping, you might consider tethering it to a stationary object using the 10-foot Frisco Tie Out Cable.
Note: Please do not crate your puppy for more than a couple of hours at a time unless it is overnight. If you do so and he starts to whimper or bark, take it out of the crate. Dogs cannot hold themselves long, so they might pee in the crate out of desperation if you leave them in too long. Please try to listen for “I need to potty” barks or whines in the middle of the night to give your Lab puppy an overnight potty break whenever needed.
For more tips on puppy crate training, check out our crate training guide.
Potty Pad Training
If you work away from home all day and don’t have help, live on an upper floor or in an apartment or condo, have a handicap, or live in a cold climate, potty training your puppy with potty pads may be helpful to you.
Potty pad training helps pet parents gradually transition their puppies from going inside to relieving themselves outside. One great example of a product that helps with this process is the PAW TRAX Potty Pad Holder made by Richell.
The first step in potty pad training is to choose a pad, sheets, and a tray and to prepare the area in which you will train. You may wish to use a bathroom or laundry room or any other hard, cleanable room in your home.
To train your puppy to use the potty pad, put some of his business or some of the previously soiled pads in the center, so he knows where to go.
If your puppy has trouble finding the right spot to potty initially, you can place potty pads throughout the area he frequents and slowly removes them as he learns to use his potty pad holder.
You can also do what experienced trainers call “umbilical training,” sometimes called tethering. With this method, you keep your Lab puppy with you at all times by attaching his leash to your belt or a loop on your pants; This ensures that he will not wander off and urinate somewhere in your home. It also allows you to notice any signals that he may need to go outside, so there will never be an accident you do not know about.
Although this method is time-consuming, it may be the most effective for potty training a puppy. Since mistakes are quickly caught, this method can be beneficial to the dog. Also, since most dogs won’t like being disciplined in this way, they will learn more quickly.
What Works Best?
I recommend combining crate training, paper training, and constant supervision.
I use crate training for many reasons. I believe that it is the most effective way to train a dog, and I also think dogs should be crate trained from when they are puppies.
I’ve found that constant supervision is vital in a puppy’s first few months of life because they learn so quickly and need your guidance to avoid mistakes.
I use paper training with my puppy until he’s about 11 weeks old. After that, I use it only for potty training at night, or when I know, he’ll be left home alone for a long time.
Although that might contradict what I said earlier, I still recommend not paper training your puppy if you can avoid it.
It allows your puppy to potty inside the home before teaching him not to. It’s a confusing message and, in practice, doesn’t work.
It can confuse your puppy when you take him outside to relieve himself, then bring him right back inside. It’s best to teach him that it’s always out if he needs to go!
If you have a permanent indoor bathroom spot, this method is perfect. Although I do not recommend it, occasionally, paper training has been helpful for me when I was out of options.
Make a Routine
Establishing a routine is essential. Doing so at a young age helps set expectations for the day. Training regularly into a way helps ensure your Lab puppy knows when it’s appropriate to go potty.
Puppies love structure and routine. And because of this, they’re likely to have fewer accidents in the house and be more relaxed if we can create a schedule that includes proper walks, exercise, and rest.
Designated Potty Areas
It is essential to have a designated potty area for your puppy, both outside and inside. Your puppy’s primary potty area will be outside, but you will need to prepare an inside spot as well, especially if you will be gone for more than a few hours.
It’s helpful to train your puppy to use the same place outside for relieving herself; This can save you time and effort when you have to clean up your puppy’s feces; This will also limit any lawn burn that his urine might cause.
If you train your Lab puppy to relieve himself in one spot, make sure it’s away from any windows or doors; This will help keep the smell down and prevent children and adults from accidentally stepping in it. You can encourage your Lab to go to this spot each time you take him outside by leading him there every time.
We have four dogs, so for us, it’s easiest to allow them to relieve themselves in any part of our backyard. The most important thing is to clean up after them. If their potty messes get too built up in one spot, the dogs will no longer relieve themselves there.
It’s not enough to train your Lab puppy to use an outdoor potty area—many owners also need to set aside an indoor potty area. An indoor location will be necessary if you run errands or be away from home for a few hours. Choose a room with a linoleum or tile floor for easy clean-up.
Indoor potty spots can be created using newspapers, pee pads, or turf boxes. Newspapers are cheap and easy to clean to spread over a larger area. However, they aren’t very absorbent, so urine can run off the edges and cause a mess. Moreover, your puppy can chew on or tear it up fairly quickly. Also, newsprint will get all over your hands.
Pee pads are made of more absorbent material. But you should be careful that your puppy doesn’t chew them up or tear them.
A turf box is a box with a turf-covered roof, and it contains a potty area under the box. Turf boxes are pretty expensive but are an excellent alternative to natural grass if you don’t have easy access to an outdoor potty area.
Go to the Potty Spot Frequently
Puppies need to develop a routine to potty train. If you are teaching your dog to go potty outdoors, for example, introduce them to a daily walk routine that will prepare them to hold their bladder in anticipation of an upcoming visit outside. If you are using an indoor potty spot, encourage them to go there when they have to eliminate it.
If you want to minimize accidents, take your dog out frequently to the same spot each time. After they wake up from a nap, after eating and drinking, and just before bedtime is good times to walk them to their bathroom spot.
Stick to a Feeding Schedule
One way to get pottying under control is to set up a feeding schedule for your puppy. Many puppies will eliminate right after eating and then potty some time again after eating. If you keep track of when you feed your puppy and when it goes potty between meals, you can figure out the best times to make sure your puppy has the opportunity to go outside.
When you feed your puppy on a schedule, you give your everyday dog meals regularly instead of leaving food out all the time; This makes it easier to set up a potty-training schedule. The correct feeding schedule will depend on your puppy’s age, size, and more, so ask your vet to help you figure out a feeding schedule for your puppy.
Praise for Potty Training Success – Positive Reinforcement
Once you establish a routine of taking your puppy outside after eating, playing, and sleeping, focus on creating good habits once you step out.
Choose a spot that becomes the “potty spot,” and always take your dog to this spot when he needs to do his business. As you wait quietly, tell him to go potty, then praise him lavishly if he goes. Say “good boy/girl!” then give him or her a yummy treat.
Every time a puppy eliminates outside, praise them and show them lots of love by giving them treats. Also, spend some time playing with your pup after each elimination.
If your Lab puppy doesn’t go when you are outside, bring him inside and try going back out again in a few minutes. Even if your dog does go, he may need to go again very soon, so stay vigilant.
House Training A Lab Puppy At Night
It is essential to follow this step in the potty training process. Even though you may be tempted to skip it, your Lab puppy cannot hold his bladder all night. His bladder is not yet developed enough to keep his urine for so long. However, he will need to pee less during the night, so you will only need to get up once for him.
I recommend that you don’t feed your puppy anything at least three hours before his bedtime. I also suggest that you take him out to relieve herself just before bedtime. Then set the alarm for around four hours after you go to bed. For example, if you go to bed at 10:00 PM, set your alarm for 2:00 AM.
If your puppy wakes up at night, take him out immediately and encourage him to go. Be sure to praise him when he relieves himself. Take him back inside and put him to bed. Please don’t play with him or give him treats. If you do, he’ll expect that every night.
If your puppy has an accident during his first night, get up earlier the next night. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier and see if that works. As time progresses, you can start setting your alarm for 10 minutes later until you reach the point where your Lab puppy can sleep all night without any accidents. This time can vary with each puppy, but most puppies can sleep through the night without accidents by three months of age.
If your Lab puppy is confined to a crate at night, it is especially crucial to avoid accidents because once he starts soiling in his crate, it’s hard to break the habit.
How Often Should You Take Your Lab Puppy Out?
It would help if you took your Lab puppy outside to pee many times a day. The more often you go out with him, the sooner he’ll learn that outside is the place to go.
Give your puppy a chance to relieve himself immediately after he wakes up, after any play sessions, before he falls asleep at night, and after eating or drinking.
It would help if you took your Lab puppy outside to pee every 30–60 minutes, depending on his age and bladder control.
If your puppy has an accident after 60 minutes, then next time, you can take him out after 40 minutes. Likewise, if he only wanders rather than urinates or defecates when you take him out every 40 minutes, then you can probably wait 60 minutes.
Your Lab puppy will often tell you when he needs to go outside to relieve himself. You may notice that he’s sniffing the ground, walking in circles, whining, or barking. A puppy may show signs of restlessness, including pacing around the floor or nibbling on his crate.
If your puppy begins sniffing the floor and circling in the same spot, take him outside; This can be a sign that he needs to go potty. Try not to worry if you have false alarms now and again; this is just part of being a good pet owner.
As often as possible, take your puppy outside to relieve himself. The more your Lab goes to the bathroom outside, the easier it will be for him to understand that’s where he is supposed to go.
Don’t get frustrated. This stage won’t last forever. Your Lab puppy will eventually be potty-trained and have better bladder control, meaning he can go longer between bathroom breaks.
Be Ready for Accidents
Even if you provide good potty training for your Labrador puppy, they will still likely have an occasional accident in the house while they learn what is expected of them. Your immediate response can affect the puppy’s future behavior when this happens.
Try to avoid yelling or raising your voice. While some trainers feel that aggressive contact is sometimes necessary to “break your puppy of bad habits,” this can be damaging and confusing to a young dog.
To help your dog avoid accidents indoors, respond calmly and clearly when it happens. Take your Lab straight to his potty spot to finish even if it appears that he is done; This will help him make the connection between outdoors and relief.
Clean up past accidents thoroughly
Dogs like to use the same spot as a toilet over and over. And they’re so good at smelling that they can find the tiniest bit of pee and will urinate there too!
It’s crucial that you thoroughly clean the area after an accident and remove all traces of urine. If you don’t, the chances are good that your puppy makes another puddle; This isn’t helpful because encouraging this behavior can slow the potty training process or even sabotage it.
Although some household cleaners can eliminate odors, they don’t work as well as specially formulated stain and odor removers, such as Skout’s Honor or Nature’s Miracle. After you clean, get on your hands and knees to sniff the area to ensure the smell is gone.
How To Potty Train A Lab Puppy: FAQ
Do puppy potty training sprays work?
Puppy potty training sprays—which go by various names, including puppy pee-pee pads or indoor potty training kits—are used to make designated potty areas for puppies. These sprays can help owners effectively mimic the scent of urine and feces to help puppies learn where to eliminate.
How Do I know When I’m Done?
Once your Lab puppy has not had any accidents for a month or two, you’re probably done with potty training. Most puppies are house-trained by the time they are six months old.
Take your time. Some puppies are faster learners than others, and some dogs will have accidents no matter how much you do to train them. It takes some time to be fully trained. Don’t assume that your puppy has been potty-trained just because he hasn’t had any accidents in a few weeks; take him outside often and be watchful until he is fully trained.
Can dogs potty train themselves?
It would be great if dogs could potty train themselves, but it never happens. Even if you have an older dog at home, puppies need your help and attention to learn how to use the potty outdoors. When you get a puppy, be patient and follow a regular potty break routine to get your Lab fully potty trained.
Potty training a Lab puppy takes commitment, patience, and consistency. There are many ways to potty train a puppy, and it’ll take time for you to find the best one for your dog. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
To successfully potty train your Labrador puppy, stay consistent, and supervise your dog whenever you can. Ask others to watch your dog while you’re gone, even if only for a few hours. If you have to leave your dog alone for more than a few hours, ask someone else to give your dog his frequent breaks.
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