A newborn puppy does not know how to potty. Thank goodness his mother licks him to stimulate his bowels and bladder. Eventually, he can potty on his own -- any place at any time. Once you bring your new pup home, start the house-training process.
A newborn pup has no control over his bladder or bowels. During the first weeks of life, he depends on his mother for all body functions. Once he is 3 to 4 weeks old, he will start to potty on his own. If the puppy does not have his mother, you will have to stimulate his bladder and bowels. Dip a cloth in warm water and massage the anal and urinary regions. Do this after feedings.
Four to Eight Weeks
Puppies continue to nurse until they are about 6 weeks old or the mother has stopped lactating. They will potty at any time because they are nursing whenever they want to nurse. Solid food is introduced when the pup is about 4 weeks old. Slowly the pup transitions from the mother's milk to only solid food. By the time the pup is 8 weeks old, he is eating only solid food. If the pup is with other puppies, and they are allowed to eat when they want, he will potty whenever he needs to potty.
Eight to Twelve Weeks
Pups are ready for adoption when they are 8 to 10 weeks old, depending on the breed. When you bring your new pup home, you can begin the housebreaking process. He is not physically able to hold his bladder or bowels until he is 12 weeks old, so he needs a schedule for potty time. Pups need to potty 5 to 20 minutes after eating, sleeping and playing. If you are using a crate, never leave him in the crate for more than 2 hours.
Take your pup out to potty first thing in the morning. Take him out to one designated spot and give him 10 to 20 minutes to potty. If he doesn't potty, take him back to the crate and wait 10 minutes.
Schedule three feedings a day. Do not leave the food for him to eat whenever he wants. Your goal is to schedule his potty time. Take him out after each feeding. If you take him out of his crate for playtime, take him to potty after playing. At night, stop his food and water 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Take him out to potty before bed. Plan on taking him out once or twice during the night.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.