You’ve got a new puppy and have brought your new family member home. You’ve played with them, fed them, and it’s time for bed.
Toilet training is important, and the sooner, the better, but what if your puppy needs to go in the middle of the night?
If your puppy is under six months old, you should take them outside to do their business in the middle of the night if they feel the need to. This is because small puppy bladders are small and still growing and can most likely not yet hold their urine overnight.
In this article, I will explain how long a puppy can hold their urine overnight, how their age affects their capacity, and how often they should be taken out at night, depending on how old they are.
I’ll also go into detail about how long you have to wait until your puppy is expected to be able to hold their business overnight.
Then I will dive deep into my favorite tips and tricks to help you survive the sleepless nights and make them as short-lived as possible, which means more sleep for you and your pup.
So sit your sleep-deprived body up, ready your pen and notepad and let’s get started.
The first thing to learn on how to toilet train your puppy for overnight success and why it is necessary to take your puppy out in the middle of the night is to understand their capability.
Puppies have tiny bladders that can only hold a certain amount of liquid, much like us. Just like us, as they mature, these limits increase.
To teach your puppy how to hold it overnight, you first need to know how much they can hold it in general.
Generally, puppies can hold their urine for the number of hours equal to their months of age plus 1. However, this can vary depending on breed, the individual puppy, and any health issues.
I’ve written a lot more about the topic of how long puppies can hold it (both pee & poop). You can check it out here if you’re interested.
Anywhere between four and six months of age, your puppy should be able to consistently hold it the entire night.
Notice it’s a range, not an exact number of months. The variance is usually because of the breed.
Smaller breeds start out needing more potty breaks than larger breeds, but their bodies mature to full size at around six months of age.
Larger breeds can take longer because their bodies grow at a much slower rate and can actually take up to two to three years to reach their adult size.
Due to this difference in breed and size, it can take anywhere from six to twenty-four months for your puppy’s body to reach its adult size.
Also, the general rule may be slightly altered during the night as the puppy’s body cools down. During sleep, puppies (and dogs in general) can usually hold it for a bit longer.
Be aware, though, that when they wake up, be it the middle of the night or morning, they’ll be itching to go. So, you really want to take them outside as soon as they wake up to avoid any accidents and setbacks in potty training.
Toilet training a puppy takes patience, dedication, and effort.
It can be rough, especially going through sleepless nights. But if done correctly, it teaches your puppy to not relieve themselves in the house, even at night.
It also prevents future issues such as having a dog that leaves surprises for you in your shoes, carpet, or other house areas.
Thankfully there are some tips and tricks to make this stage as easy and short as can be.
To help your puppy learn to hold their bladder, make sure to start them off on the right paw.** Set a strong routine.** Bedtime at a certain time and the same routine before bed.
When it is time for them to sleep, take them out for one last potty break.
Make sure to praise them for being so good, but do not jump up and get excited. This will make them think it’s time to play and rid your chances of getting that pup to sleep anytime soon.
Crate training can be a great tool to assist your little one in learning many positive habits.
Proper crate training can actually reduce anxiety, provide a quiet place, and ultimately make toilet training at night easier.
Puppies don’t like soiling their bed. This came from their ancestors, where their mothers would teach them not to relieve themselves inside the den.
A crate is exactly that, your puppy’s own private den. Just like the ones in the wild, your puppy will get trained easier using the crate because it is natural to return to the den to sleep.
Crate training is a big topic, and I have an extensive guide on it. You can read more about it here if you’re interested.
Your puppy should only wake in the middle of the night when they need to go to the toilet.
The best way to ensure this is to create a calm, quiet place for them to sleep.
Whether using a crate, dog bed, blankets, or whatever your puppy is sleeping on, set it up in a dark, quiet room where they aren’t going to be easily disturbed.
This lowers the chance of accidental wake up, which means a lower chance of more toilet breaks meaning more sleep for you.
Some people also choose to put the puppy bed or crate in their bedroom. This is so that they can hear the puppy easier if he is waking up to go to the toilet and handy if either of you is a sleeper.
As explained earlier, a puppy should last approximately an hour, equal to how many months old they are, plus one.
For instance, if they were three months old, they may need to be taken out at night every four hours.
If you take your puppy out in the middle of the night, make sure to make it as dull as possible. No bright lights, no loud sounds, no excited greetings.
Just calmly walk them out, verbally tell them they did a good job, and walk them back to bed. That’s it.
Sounds cruel, but it’s because you want to keep them in that tired, trance-like state between asleep and awake so that they can fall blissfully back asleep quickly.
Also, just like a child, if they get attention and fun, they’re going to want to do it more, right? And more toilet breaks are exactly what you don’t want for your puppy or your mental health.
Okay, so you know how often they need to go; you know how to take your puppy out in the middle of the night.
You go to your puppy, it’s been the correct amount of time, and they’re asleep!
What do you do?
Let them sleep. They will let you know if they need to go later, which means another run for you.
On the bright side, it probably means your puppy just learned to hold their bladder that little bit longer.
I know it may be annoying to take your puppy out in the middle of the night.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Know it will only be a few months tops until they can consistently make it through the night.
Try to see it as an investment for a better life with your puppy. You’re setting them for success and avoiding future bad habits from forming.
As long as you stay consistent, things will turn out the best for you!