Should you wake your puppy up to pee when you’re potty training at night?
Potty training at night is the usual sticking point for most new puppy owners.
Potty training during the day is relatively easy.
Owners know to take their puppy out when they wake up, after they eat, and any time they get a little too “sniffy.”
The issues generally arise when night rolls around.
There’s a key factor to remember when potty training at night: puppies are just babies.
Just like human babies, potty training puppies means less sleep and more work.
In the end, though, it’s worth it when you have a dog who always does his business outside.
So let’s take a look at training puppies during that overnight period.
The Ins and Outs of Potty Training at Night
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What most new puppy owners don’t realize is the sheer amount of work it takes to raise a puppy.
Potty training and command training are almost always done in tandem.
That’s on top of things like making sure their puppy has plenty of chew toys so he doesn’t maul daddy’s new loafers or mom’s heels.
Part of that work is waking up at night to take out that little bundle of energy.
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Age Determines Everything
Owners of young puppies should absolutely wake up during the night to take their young puppies out to pee.
Pups aged 4 months and younger just don’t have the capacity or control to hold their urine all night.
At some point in the night, their body will signal them to pee, and since they aren’t trained, that means a mess in their crate or on the floor of the room where they sleep.
So now we know that young puppies should be taken out at least once during the middle of the night for a potty break. But wait, there’s more.
Setting the Stage, er, Crate
I’m going to assume that you’re planning on crate-training your new pup. If not, you can skip this step. Not everyone is comfortable with dog crates or confinement for their pups, and I’m not judging either way. I will say, though, that it does make house training easier overall.
Resist the urge to get a crate that is too large for your little guy. Dogs instinctively don’t want to soil their sleeping area, so get a puppy crate that is just big enough for him to turn around in.
You’ll have to get bigger crates as he grows, but that extra expense will ensure a better potty training experience.
Only after he’s fully trained and fully grown should you get him that sweet doggy mansion you saw online.
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Prepping for Bedtime
Getting your puppy through the night accident-free is more than just setting an alarm.
You’ll have to prepare for bedtime, as well, giving your pup every edge he can have in making it an accident-free night. That means getting him on a feeding schedule designed to help him succeed.
Feed your puppy his dinner about 4 hours before bed, and pull up his water a couple of hours before bed.
Some owners have been known to think this is a cruel practice, but it isn’t. You won’t starve your pup or dehydrate him.
Feeding him early and pulling his water a bit before bedtime helps get him on a consistent schedule and ensures that he does most of his business before he goes to sleep.
Speaking of that, be sure to take your puppy out right before bed. Remember, he’s not a full-grown dog, so every minute counts.
Sounding the Alarm
Set an alarm for about 4 hours after your puppy goes to bed. This is especially important for the youngest puppies.
The goal is to wake him at a time when he has enough in his body to do his business but not so much that you can’t get him out the door.
- If he has soiled his area already, set the next alarm for 3 hours rather than 4.
- If he hasn’t set the next alarm for 15 minutes later than the previous one.
You’ll notice that an accident warrants a much greater time change than a success. This is a slow process.
Going from 4 hours to 3 hours after an accident helps lessen the likelihood of a re-occurrence as does increasing the time by only 15 minutes.
The goal is to find a schedule in which your pup NEVER goes in the house at any time for any reason.
As soon as your little guy is awake quickly but calmly put him on his leash and take him to his designated potty area. Don’t pet him too much or do anything to make him think it’s time to play.
Potty time should always be strictly business, most especially at night if you want to get any sleep.
While he sniffs around, quietly tell him to go potty or give him whatever command you’ve been using. After he’s finished praise him quietly and calmly.
You can give him his usual potty treats as a reward (especially if he’s highly food-motivated). But the over-the-top praise he gets during the day should not be a part of your alarm clock potty session, otherwise, neither one of you will go back to sleep.
Back to Bed
When your pooch is all done doing his business, take him back into the house immediately and straight to his crate.
Give him a parting “good boy” if he’s still not too amped up, and quickly return to your bedroom. Resist the urge to remain with him for any length of time.
Doing that could result in un-training him from his sleep routine. The goal is a quick out and in potty training procedure that results in a minimum of nighttime disruption.
FAQs about Night Time Puppy Potty Training
Before we close out for the day, let’s just quickly go over a few of the more commonly asked questions about toilet training your dog at night.
Can I use potty pads instead of taking my puppy outside to pee?
Yes. If you live in an apartment and don’t want to trek downstairs in the middle of the night, or if you just feel like you can’t safely take Fido out to pee at 2 AM, you can use pee pads. However, you’ll still want to follow all of the steps above to set up a consistent routine to help you transition from puppy pads to outdoor potty training.
How long can a very young puppy hold his pee?
The rule of thumb is one hour for every month of age. So, an 8-week-old puppy can hold it for 2 hours, a 3-month-old pup for 3 hours, and so on.
Can a dog go for 8 hours without using the bathroom?
Not until he’s at least 8 months old. Remember the rule of thumb above. Also, while some dogs can hold it for up to 12 hours, 8 hours really should be the max. Forcing your dog to go any longer than that without a bathroom break risks an accident at best, and a urinary tract infection at worst.
What should I do if my puppy has an accident during the night?
Clean it up and readjust his schedule as noted above. That’s really all you can do. It’s not his fault. DO NOT use any sort of punishment. For example, NEVER rub your puppy’s nose in his pee.
I’m toilet-training an adult rescue dog. Does he still need to go out in the middle of the night?
Adult dogs can hold their pee longer. However, if you’re housetraining a rescue who has spent most of his life in a cage, then you should follow the same basic method outlined above until you learn his “I need to go” cues.
Why has my dog started peeing and pooping in the house at night?
If your potty-trained dog suddenly starts peeing and pooping in the house at night, then it’s time to call your veterinarian to rule out a serious medical issue. Sometimes the cause is simple, such as a new food that’s just not agreeing with him. Your vet is really the only one who can tell you for sure.
Should you wake your puppy up to pee at night? YES!
If you want a successful potty training experience, then yes, you’ll have to wake your puppy up when potty training at night.
For the first few weeks, you might have to get up twice in the night, but as your puppy grows, so too will his bladder.
Before you know it, you’ll be down to one time a night and then none. Just remember, like anything else, potty training at night requires patience and persistence.
Remember that, follow these tips, and your success will be golden instead of your floor.