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When you get a new puppy, potty training is often at the top of the to-do list. If you have a yard or outdoor space, it can be a little easier. But when you live in an apartment or high-rise, the logistics of getting a puppy outside when they have to go right now gets more difficult.

The Potty Training Basics

Before we get to the logistics of potty training your dog in a high-rise, let’s review some house training basics.

A good rule of thumb is that your puppy can hold their bladder for one hour for every month old they are. For example, if your puppy is 8 weeks old, they probably can’t hold it for longer than 2 hours. When they hit 12 weeks, it’s around 3 hours. Puppies can usually hold their bladder for a bit longer when they’re sleeping, until they wake up. They’ll likely need to go soon after eating or playing.

It’s important to supervise your puppy to catch any accidents and keep them out of trouble until they get older. When you’re home, use a playpen or dog gate to keep your furry friend contained. For the night and when you have to leave the house for work or errands, consider crate training.

Labrador Retriever puppy laying down at home outside its kennel.
©Evgeniya -

Crates are meant to be spaces that keep your puppy cozy. They shouldn’t have a lot of extra room, but your dog should be able to stand up and turn around. When used properly, it becomes a safe place they enjoy being. It’s okay to give your puppy breaks or time-outs in there, just make it a positive experience and reward them for going in.

Speaking of punishment, never punish your puppy for having an accident. Even if you think they’ve got it down, mistakes happen. When you yell at them or push their nose in it, your puppy will learn that they can’t eliminate in front of you without getting in trouble. They could also have no idea why you’re upset and just get scared. Keep it positive, reward them for doing it right with a treat, verbal praise, or a favorite toy. If they have an accident, simply clean up and move on.

If you learn to watch carefully for their signs — sniffing around more than usual, circling, suddenly running over to the corner or another room — you’ll be able to catch your puppy before an accident happens.

Yellow Labrador retriever puppy sitting on carpet at home next to a pee accident.
©Africa Studio -

House Training in a High-Rise

Okay, you’ve got your crate or playpen set up for when you leave. But how do you potty train your puppy when you can’t get them outside quickly? Luckily, there are a few solutions and tricks to make your life and your puppy’s life easier.

Use an Indoor Dog Potty

There are many types of indoor dog bathrooms now, including high-tech “litter boxes” and potties meant specifically for male dogs that lift their legs.

Use Pee Pads

Pee pads are great because they’re easy to move around, pick up, and take with you if you’re heading to a friend’s house or taking a trip and will be in a hotel. Put the pee pad in one place in the house. Near the door is your best bet for when your dog gets older and will go to the door when they need to go out.

If you see your puppy start to eliminate in the house, simply pick them up and move them onto the pee pad. You can also place a pad in your puppy’s pen if you want to give them a little space when you’re gone.

Chihuahua sitting in the grass holding a poop bag dispenser.
©otsphoto -

Put a Grass Patch on Your Patio or Terrace

There are several companies that make patch of sod for your dog to do their business on. Some are just patches of grass or turf. Others have containers to put the sod in so you can empty any waste that might drain out. Get a dog waste container to put any poop bags in so it doesn’t linger and smell. Then, just empty the container when it’s full.

Get Your Puppy on a Schedule

Eventually, your dog will hold it long enough to get them outside. You may want to keep pee pads or your grass patch around for when you can’t or don’t want to go out. But, taking your dog outside can help them get on a schedule for when they should go potty. When you get a young puppy, try to take them out as often as possible. In the morning when they get up, after mealtimes, before bed, etc. As they get older, you may be able to switch to a schedule, such as before and after work and before bed.

House training may initially feel like a daunting task. But, with a little preparation and consistency, house training your dog in a high-rise isn’t that much different from anywhere else.

Related article: The Best Materials to use for Puppy Housetraining
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