potty training a labrador puppy

How to Potty Train a Labrador Puppy?

Puppy potty training is one of the toughest tasks that comes with welcoming a new puppy home. There are some dogs that are notoriously difficult to housebreak, but luckily, a lab puppy is not one of those breeds.

Labradors are eager to please, smart, friendly, and intelligent. You can count on his good nature and need to please his beloved fur parents. Trust that your puppy will do his best to do toilet training right, but he will need your patience, consistency, and encouragement.

How do you potty train a labrador puppy? Let’s find out.

Decide Where Your Labrador Puppy Will Go

how to potty train a labrador puppy? with an indoor potty areahow to potty train a labrador puppy? with an indoor potty area
Photo by Ellen de Ruiter from Pexels

Your first step is to decide where your labrador puppy will be doing his business. Some pet owners with large and accessible backyards install a doggy door on their backdoors and give their labrador free rein. This will make potty time for your dog down the line very easy if you want him to go outside. For parents that do not have a yard and live in condos or apartments, the best idea may be to have a potty area indoors.

Choose whichever way fits your lifestyle and your dog’s the most. In our experience, training the lab puppy to do his business both indoors and out was the most successful and the healthiest. If you only permit your dog to go potty outdoors but spend 8 hours at work, that means your dog will need to hold it for that entire time. This can be detrimental to his bladder health over long periods.

If this sounds like your lifestyle, you can combat UTIs and bladder issues by hiring a dog walker that comes and takes your dog out for a potty break in the middle of the day or allowing him a potty space indoors. For those who have a yard, it’s very easy to let your dog out and give him access to the yard, but it comes with downsides.

When it’s pouring, you may not want your dog to take house training outdoors. He will most definitely get wet, track footprints inside and you will have to clean up the yard periodically. The downside of using a pee pad or pee pad with a holder is the changing and cleaning. That being said, there are benefits and drawbacks to wherever you decide to let your pup go. Best to have a doormat for dogs in place to lessen the dirt around.

One thing is for sure, all the work you need to go through to potty train your lab puppy will take time and effort, so don’t give up!

Related:  How Long Can Dogs Hold Their Pee

Understanding Puppy Potty Training

potty training and picking up the pup
Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Let’s start by breaking down the puppy potty training process into three distinct steps. First, you have the location, where you teach and familiarize your dog with the potty training area. The next step is the self-control part, and trust us, it isn’t easy for dog owners at first, but as your puppy grows, the longer he will be able to hold it.

The last part is when your dog is able to go on his own. This is the last part and the final step before a fully potty-trained pup. Even though he is nearing the end, he may still have some mishaps.

It’s important not to punish your dog when he gets it wrong but instead encourage him when he does it right. Now we are going to dive into each step for different kinds of toilet training methods.

How to Potty Train A Lab Puppy?

How to Potty Train A Lab Puppy Potty Training Outdoors
Image by 825545 from Pixabay

Potty Training Outdoors

The first method is to train your labrador puppy to go outside but not to give him free rein. For a puppy, it’s crucial to train him to go at certain intervals during the day, which is usually after drinking water or eating meals. He needs to go to the backdoor, or whichever door leads to where you want him to go, and either bark, wait or ring a bell.

How he alerts you will depend on your preference, but we have found the bell to be the best way because we don’t want to condone barking and you may not notice your dog sitting by the door quietly and patiently waiting for you to open it. When he does it successfully, you can open the door and let him out. Just as an extra tip, always exit the house before your dog.

As we said, there are many intervals during the day in which you can take your puppy to go potty. If you have a young pup, around 2-3 months, we would definitely suggest this right after meals and maybe every hour and after he drinks.

You won’t have to take him every hour as he grows, the rule of thumb is 1 hour per month of age. However, we don’t recommend pushing your puppy that far on a regular basis.

If you have a doggy door installed, then the potty training outdoors is much easier since you won’t need to physically allow him access to the outside. All you will need to do is to train him to go outside and do his business routinely and come back in.

During the first few months, we strongly advise accompanying your lab puppy outside since pups are curious creatures and they can easily lose focus, get distracted, and forget why they were out there in the first place.

You have to make sure he goes out there, does his business, and comes right back in. Don’t hesitate to leash him for the first few months as well just until he gets his footing.

It will take a lot of practice and lots of late-night potty breaks, but the house training should get better from 4 months and above since your puppy can hold it longer by then. It’s also easier if you want to associate a command with the action such as the words “go poo poo” or “go pee pee” (feel free to customize your phrase) because once your dog is fully potty trained, he will do his business once he hears the code word.

During the training period, make sure you give your dog tons of encouragement and treats whenever he gets it right.

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A Designated Place Indoors

To train your lab puppy to go indoors, the process is very similar to training him to go outdoors, except you skip the opening the door part. As a puppy, your labrador will need to go after every meal or every hour, so make it a habit to consciously take your labrador puppy to go potty.

After each meal, guide your puppy to the house training area and place him on the pee pad and wait. This is the best time to use your command like “go potty”. It may take countless repetitions, but when your dog eventually goes, don’t forget to reward him with his favorite snacks.

Always supervise your puppies and do not leave them alone during potty training. You want him to know that the pee pad is where he does his business and it’s only for that. Potty time is not play time and he cannot leave that area until he does his business. Once he manages to successfully go potty on the pad once and earn a reward, he will understand what to do.

We’re not saying there won’t be accidents down the line because there will be, but potty training becomes infinitely easier over time. The smart puppies could get it in a matter of days. However, don’t be discouraged if it takes your lab puppy a little longer, but trust us, he will get it!

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Potty Training Indoors and Out

How to Potty Train A Lab Puppy Potty Training Indoors and Out
Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

It’s simpler than you think to incorporate both methods. Your labrador retriever puppy is much more capable than u think! There are various ways to do this. You can encourage your dog to go outside when you aren’t in the house, or the opposite. You can also allow puppy potty breaks to happen indoors whenever he is home and only do his business outdoors on walks.

Integrating both methods together is highly customizable, so work out what’s best for your routine and lifestyle. We are going to give you an example of what we do with our puppy.

He has the freedom to go indoors whenever he is home, and that can be with or without our presence. He knows exactly where to go, which is in the first-floor bathroom where his pee pad is secured in the holder.

He doesn’t generally do any number 2’s in the house because he has the habit of emptying his bowels during his hour-long walks every day. You may be wondering how we handle rainy days and stormy weather. A lab puppy will definitely get wet during poor weather conditions. Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s quite rainy in most months of the year.

We’re clean individuals and generally don’t appreciate muddy paw prints all over the floors and furniture (who does?), so we don’t take our puppy out in bad weather. It’s perfectly fine if you and your labrador retriever puppy have reliable raincoats and don’t mind the rain, but if you aren’t like that, you always have the double potty training method to fall back on.

Our puppy has learned that if he doesn’t go out, it’s okay to make a number 2 on his pee pad. He will alert us when he needs to do it so we can clean it up immediately. We have worked out a pretty good dynamic with our puppy, and we’re just gonna mention that potty training took less than a day for bragging rights. Although we suspect the breeder put in some groundwork with wood chips.

All boasting aside, some pups just need a bit more time to get it right, but by no means does it mean a labrador puppy is better than the next dog just because the house training took a shorter time.

How long does it take to house train a pup? It totally depends on your dog. As we mentioned, some pups learn in less than a day (although this is a rare case), others need just a few days, while others will continue to mess up for a few weeks. Don’t worry, because your pup will get it eventually.

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The Self Control Stage

The above tips were mainly geared towards new and young labrador puppies. When your dog starts to establish some control over his bladder and bowels, you can loosen the reigns a bit. By that we mean you will no longer need to make a concerted effort to physically take your dog to the potty area. You can semi-rely on his self-control to realize he needs to go and make it to the potty training area without issue.

This is a tricky and accident-prone stage, but just know that your lab puppy is undoubtedly trying his absolute best. We would still recommend keeping a close eye on your pup.

Once you have seen him make his way to the area and do his business once, then you know he has reached the self-control stage. This is also the time to shower your labrador puppy with plenty of love and encouragement.

Pat yourself on the back as well because you passed the most difficult stage! Now all that’s left is to make sure your puppy makes it to the house training area smoothly. If the potty training area is outdoors, then you have to look for telltale “I need to go potty” signs.

Some dogs start to act strangely and whimper or whine. You may also notice your dog is sniffing around and pacing; exhibiting restless behavior. If you notice any of the above signs, then it’s time to let him out. You shouldn’t wait to let him out during this stage as he won’t be able to hold it for very long.

Keep in mind that if you have conducted crate training in tandem with potty training, the crate training can be used to prolong the time between potty breaks. This is because dogs don’t tend to go where they sleep – no one likes to lay in their own excrement.

Independent and Potty-Trained Labrador Puppies

When you reach stage three, you can let out a sigh of relief. This is the stage when you can relax a little. How long does it take to get here? Let’s put it this way, it will take much longer if you do not remain consistent, patient, and encouraging. This is when your dog knows what to do when he needs to do it, and will do it 9.5 to 10/10 times.

He will be able to hold it through the night, alert you when he needs to go, and stretch out potty break gaps. When you finally reach this stage, you and your puppy deserve a big treat!

Tips to Make Potty Training a Labrador Puppy Easier

How to Potty Train a Labrador Puppy Tips to Make Potty Training a Labrador Puppy Easier
Image by AlkeMade from Pixabay

Now we are going to dive into some tips that will greatly reduce the stress that inevitably comes with labrador puppy potty training.

Clean the Spot Well

We are sure you have heard this tip a million times during your puppy potty training journey. Accidents happen and that’s okay, but the key is to not have it happen again. It’s easier if you let your puppy go outside, especially if you allow him to go anywhere in the yard.

Unfortunately, a dog that has an accident indoors entails a much more in-depth cleanup. If the soiled spot isn’t cleaned well, then there is a very high chance it will happen again.

Try to catch it early and clean it up right away. Scrub the area with a good enzyme cleaner. You should follow the directions on the bottle, but they pretty much work the same. You would spray the area with the cleaner and let it sit for around 10-15 minutes. Once the enzymes have done their work and broken down the particles, you can then go over and scrub the spot.

It is our experience that enzymatic cleaners do the best job. The enzymes actually go into the carpet fibers, for example, isolate and target the soil particles and break them down on a microscopic level. You won’t have this type of clean results with any other cleaner. Because the pet enzyme cleaner is so thorough, even your dog’s sensitive nose can’t detect where he has gone potty before.

Restrict Access

We have seen many dog owners make a very simple mistake – they introduce the puppy to every area of the house. Of course, eventually, your labrador puppy will be able to access every area of the house if you permit it, but doing this early will add to your labrador puppy house training stress.

This is especially true with male puppies. Why? Because male dogs tend to mark their territory. It will be very difficult to contain where your labrador puppy goes potty if he can do it in every room of the house.

To avoid this, we recommend restricting your dog’s access and keep him confined to a single area. Of course, keep the area large enough for your pup to feel comfortable. It should be a large room with an unrestricted view of the entire space. This will give your lab puppy room to play but allow you to keep an eye on him as well. Puppy training can then be administered in this area, which will also limit accidents.

You can start to give your labrador pup more freedom around the house when he nears the end of the second stage. For those that aren’t entirely sure about their puppy’s hit rate, then you can wait until your lab puppy is in the third stage of toilet training.

Keep to a Routine

This tip is mostly for young puppies. When you eventually get to the second and third stage, your dog should be able to handle himself. Your puppy may need to go every 15 to 20 min. Just make sure you take him to the potty constantly, especially after drinks and meals.

The Importance of a Command

Tips to Make Potty Training a Labrador Puppy Easier The Importance of a Command
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Imagine waking up in an alien world. Since you most likely communicate differently, you will try to associate sounds the extraterrestrials make with actions to understand what they want or what they are trying to say. In a sense, this is your dog’s perception of you and dog training.

It’s hard for your lab puppy to keep track of the “weird noises” we make, which are known to us as words. It may take him a while to get what “pee pee” and “poo poo” mean, but just put yourself in his furry little paws.

Repetition is the key to having your dog understand what you want and what you mean. Sometimes your puppy can associate a want with action and sometimes he will with words. For the sake of potty training, if you repeat a code word of your choice enough times, he will eventually make the connection.

Later on, when he reaches stage 3, the word or words will be so ingrained in him that he will do the action when you say the word without fail.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to potty train a lab puppy?

Around 1 to 2 months, but remember that every puppy is different. Each one has a unique personality and unique tendencies and needs. This difference is what makes it difficult to give a straight answer to the question.

The 4 to 8 -week time span is a general assumption, as most puppies fall within that range. However, we have experienced dogs that learn amazingly quickly and ones that take extra long.

Keep in mind that there are many external factors that come into play for potty training. If the pup was previously mistreated, he may take much longer to learn an action.

The important thing is not to force your dog or punish him if he has an accident. Instead, only reward him for a job well done, and don’t skimp on encouragement and patience.

Are Labradors easy to potty train?

Yes! Labradors are easy to potty train. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. As we said before, there are plenty of other dog breeds that are more difficult to train, and these are usually the more stubborn ones which we will cover in a bit. You can thank your labrador puppy’s good nature and even temperament for the easy potty training.

Labs are smart, eager to please, affectionate, and friendly dogs. These traits make them easy to train because they want to make you happy.

Can an 8-week old puppy be potty trained?

You can potty train an 8-week old puppy but you won’t be very successful. Of course, every pup is different and you could have a star genius on your hands. But for the most part, you can expect a lot of accidents from your labrador puppy at such a young age. The ideal time to start potty training is actually at 3 months. Don’t wait too long, because the older the puppy is, the more difficult it will be to break him of his previous habits.

You can lay down the basic groundwork for the 2-month old labrador pup, but again, don’t expect a fully potty-trained labrador puppy at this age. However, it will get easier when he gets to 3 to 4 months old and you will most likely be finished with potty training around 6 months of age when all the other dogs are still trying to figure things out.

What is the hardest dog to potty train?

We said before that labradors are quite easy to potty train, but this led to many people wondering what dogs are the hardest to housebreak? The size of the puppy is an indicator. Smaller dogs tend to be more difficult to house train, and that’s because they have smaller bladders. You will find a lot of the hunting breeds can be tough to train, as well as the more stubborn ones.

Examples of dogs that are the hardest to potty train include the Jack Russell Terrier, the Bichon Frise, the Dachshund, and the Pomeranian. When you look up lists of difficult dogs to house train, many terriers make it due to their hunting nature, and the Dachshund makes it for its smaller bladder and stature plus stubbornness. The Pom and Bichon Frise are also on the list for stubbornness and their small size.

Should I wake my puppy up to pee at night?

Yes, you should. Young puppies need to be woken up at night to potty train. In fact, it may take 2 to 3 bathroom breaks in the middle of the night. It is all a part of puppy ownership and the initial part of puppy training.

Due to their young age, puppies younger than four months simply cannot hold in their pee for that long. If you don’t want to wake up to a messy crate, then get ready for a tiring couple of months.

Once your dog gets to 4 months (we recommend 5 for small breeds), you can get back to your sleep routine and get a full night’s rest.

Should I ignore puppy crying at night?

Yes, you should, but only if you are sure he is not crying for any other reason than wanting to be with you, feeling alone, or wanting attention. Taking your labrador puppy out periodically for a bathroom break can help you predict what he wants. Most likely, the first few nights of bringing your labrador puppy home will consist of non-stop and incessant crying.

Make sure to apologize to your neighbors beforehand! You definitely need to ignore the crying if you intend on keeping your dog in his crate during the night or in his own special spot.

Once you reward his behavior with attention, then that’s the end of peaceful nights. Your pup will eventually tire out. Just like with barking, do not reinforce unwanted behavior with your attention or it will teach your dog that barking works.


Potty training for a lab pup is the same as potty training with any other breed. The steps are the same and the methods are the same but the length may vary. What also causes a variance is the dog’s personality, and the owner’s determination, consistency, and encouragement.

Don’t be discouraged, because no matter how long it takes, you and your pup will get there. We have heard stories of pups understanding potty training in just a few short days (but not without accidents) to pups that are stubborn and don’t want to conform to your rules.

Whatever type of puppy you end up with, he will need your support to achieve the end goal. As for labrador pups, they are easy to train and will probably take no longer than a month at most.

Expert Tip

The fastest way to potty train a pup is to remain consistent and stick to a routine. There isn’t much you can do to reduce the training time other than being consistent and patient. Once you deviate from the routine, then it could confuse your pup and push you back a few steps in the potty training journey.

Did You Know?

Don’t write off a breed because of a stereotype, even the most stubborn breeds such as a Siberian husky can be housebroken. Never punish your pet or rub his nose in his waste. Not only is this very degrading, but it will also make the potty training process more difficult. Not only will you be frustrated, but your dog will be as well.

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