How to Potty Train a Labrador Puppy

When we brought our Labrador Retriever puppy home, we were excited, overjoyed and completely in love!

New dog owners will relate to how quickly those feelings were mixed with frustration and annoyance. Max was a sweetheart as a young puppy, but he would pee anywhere and everywhere!

Our well-meaning but inexperienced potty training left everyone feeling tired, but progress was slow.

After hiring a professional dog trainer and conducting extensive research, our efforts at puppy potty training improved drastically and Max made amazing progress within a few weeks.

In this article, I reflect on our first-hand experience at potty training a labrador puppy, giving tips that will give puppy parents better control over the toilet training process.

At What Age Should a Lab Puppy be Potty Trained

To begin with, it is important to understand that a lab pup, like any other puppy, has a short attention span and limited control over its bodily functions.

It is a good idea to start puppy training as soon as your pet comes home, which is roughly at 7-10 weeks of age. This sets the right expectations early on and helps them start getting used to house training.

However, keep in mind that a young puppy cannot hold its pee overnight or for an extended period of time. As long as your expectations are reasonable and you demonstrate patience, your lab pup is trainable when it comes home.

How to Potty Train a Labrador Puppy

Start by noticing behaviors that indicate that your lab puppy needs to go pee or poop. Max would typically start sniffing the floor, going around in circles and whining. As soon as we saw any of these signs, we would rush our lab puppy to its designated potty spot.

You may have to wait patiently for your beloved new puppy to start its business, but as soon as it begins, voice out your standard command. It could be ‘Go potty’ or ‘Time to pee‘. After endless repetitions of ‘Go pee pee‘ just when Max would start peeing, our young puppy started associating the command with the action.

As an adult dog, he doesn’t even need us to give the command. He now associates his potty spot with a potty break.

Once your lab pup does go pee or potty, lavish it with lots of praise or offer it a quick treat. This kind of positive reinforcement is far more effective than punishment.

How Do I Get my Lab Puppy to Stop Peeing in the House?

The best way for new dog owners to ensure their pet doesn’t pee indoors is to take it outside every few hours. A young puppy can hold its pee for as many hours as its age in months. So your 3-month old labrador retriever puppy needs to go pee every three hours.

This means rushing your lab puppy to its pee pad or potty spot after naps, meals, water drinking and playtime. In addition, take it outside first thing in the morning, last thing in the night and until it reaches about six months of age, you may even need to take it out once in the middle of the night.

The process of toilet training needs to be consistent and repetitive.

How to Train a Labrador to Poop Outside

Typically, a labrador retriever puppy needs to poop ten to fifteen minutes after a meal and also when they wake up in the morning.

With regular mealtimes, we learned Max’s schedule. He would almost always go potty in the morning on waking up and after his evening meal. Identify your pup‘s (and when it grows up, your adult dog‘s) potty schedule. Take it to its potty pad or potty area at those times consistently.

Frequent potty breaks in the first few weeks are helpful for puppy parents to identify their new puppy‘s schedule.

If your lab pup goes outside but doesn’t poop when it usually does, take it out again every ten minutes till you succeed. Then lavish it with praise and offer it a treat to let your pet know how pleased you are.

In case of an occasional potty accident, avoid punishing or scolding your puppy, otherwise the next time it may hide away and poop.

How Long do Puppies Hold their Pee at Night?

A young pup‘s control over its bodily functions increases with age and training. Having said that, the general rule of thumb is that your lab pup can hold its pee for as many hours as its age in months.

When pups play, eat and drink during the day, they need to pee more frequently. At night, they can hold their pee a little longer.

When your Labrador puppy comes home initially, start by setting an alarm for 3 hours after its last potty break before bed. If you are successful in getting your pup to pee outside, you can add 30 minutes to the time the next night.

If a potty accident takes place near their sleeping area before you wake up, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier the next night.

Should I Wake my Puppy Up to Pee at Night

Should I Use a Puppy Pad at Night?

If you live in an apartment or have mobility issues, it may not be feasible for you to rush your new puppy out every few hours or in the middle of the night.

In such cases, wee wee pads can be a blessing.

When we got Max initially, we were living in an apartment. We identified a potty area within the house where we placed the pee pad. As part of his dog training, we would take him to the puppy pad every few hours until he figured out that this was his toilet area.

In the night, you may want to place the puppy pad in the sleeping area, but not too close to its bed or crate. A puppy‘s nose is sharp and it would be discomfited sleeping in very close proximity to its toilet area.

If you opt to use wee wee pads, continue to set your alarm and walk your small puppy to the pee pad. Issue the usual command and wait until it does pee.

A petting and a few words of praise may be better suited than displaying too much excitement, lest the puppy thinks it is time to play!

How to Use Puppy Training Pads

Should I Carry my Puppy Out to Pee?

As your new pup grows into an older dog, you would want it to learn to walk to its potty area on its own.

But in the very initial days, when their bladder control is limited, a small puppy may pee even before it reaches the door. Especially, if you wake your puppy up to pee at night.

In those early days, you may choose to carry your pup to the door or to its puppy pad to ensure there is no potty accident en route. However, once your lab puppy figures out the night schedule and what is expected of it, you may let it walk to its toilet area on its own.

Can I Take my Puppy Outside to Pee Before Vaccinations?

Puppy parents typically receive their new puppy after it has received its first shot of vaccination.

Once it has had its first shot, you may take your lab pup out for walks and to pee outdoors.

In fact, since the first three months of a pup‘s life are its best socialization period, it is vital to take your dog out to meet people, kids and other dogs.

If you plan to have your lab puppy use your yard as its potty area, take it on a leash and avoid leaving it unsupervised. This way you can watch what the small puppy is sniffing and you can stop it from eating anything wrong.

How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

The Labrador Retriever breed is an intelligent one. With consistent early puppy training and lots of positive reinforcement, your Lab puppy will learn to pee and poop in its designated potty spot within four to six months.

If you are unable to offer consistent and frequent potty breaks because of your work schedule or other commitments, you may run into potty training problems.

In such cases, hiring a professional dog trainer or enlisting help from a family member can make things easier for both you and your small puppy.

If long absences prevent you from taking your lab pup out for toilet training, teach it to use a pee pad and reward it for peeing on the pad when you return home.

Finally, remember that your small puppy is just like a human child. It may be a smart dog, but it needs truckloads of patience, love and consistency from you.

Training puppies is no child’s play, so equip yourself with lots of information and the right equipment and very soon, your Labrador puppy will be an obedient, well-trained adult dog.