How To Potty Train A Dog In An Apartment

Living in an apartment isn’t quite the same as living in your own house, especially when you’re a dog owner. Training your dog to potty could be quite challenging in such a situation.

So you ask - how to potty train a dog in an apartment?

I’m guessing you wouldn’t want your dog having accidents in front of a co-tenant's apartment door, especially the grouchy ones, 😡 .

Being a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your dog goes to potty at the right spot. This would require some training, consistency and patience. It may seem like an uphill task but it’s really not, read on as we give out some useful tips!

1. Take your dog outside frequently

The more you take your dog outside, the higher the chances of him pooping or peeing outside. Do this as frequently as possible, maybe once every hour.

Also, watch for vital signs that show he wants to “go”, when you see those signs, take him outside.

Since you’re already in the practice of taking him outside frequently, he’ll most likely already be used to pooping outside, which means one of the vital signs you have to watch out for is your dog approaching the door when he’s “pressed”

Yes, I know, you may not always be around to take him out every hour, but you can get a friend, family member or neighbor who has some time on their hands to help you out.

2. Feed him the same time every day


The trick here is simple, it is easier to predict when he needs to poop when his meals are scheduled around the same time every day.

Also, observe the volume of water he consumes per hour. This information will give you vital clues as to the times he’ll need to poop and pee.

As the estimated time for his poop approaches, take him outside. He’ll get used to it over the course of time.

3. Pick a designated spot outside 

Now that you’ve put him on an outside routine and you’ve established his estimated poop time, the next thing to do is to pick a designated spot for him to poop.

A big mistake that dog owners make in potty training is taking their dogs to different poop spots. You have to take him to the same spot regularly so he’ll get used to it.

Pick a spot close to your apartment entrance to reduce the chances of accidents. Also, remember to follow your city’s rules regarding dog waste!

4. Use commands

Use a simple and clear command to strengthen your dog’s association with his designated poop spot. Make sure you never use these commands inside your apartment, or else he’ll be confused.

When you take him outside, you can say “go potty” or “potty” (your choice). Remember, your command has to be short, simple, clear and firm + friendly all at the same time.

5. Rewards

Every time your dog poops in the right spot, do your best to praise him in a sweet, exciting tone. You could also cuddle him and rub his head as you say “good boy”.

Also, give him a treat so he’ll be encouraged to do it again.

Remember, the best way to train a dog is to reinforce good behavior and eliminate the possibilities of bad behavior.

 Give him rewards every time for the first few months until it becomes a normal routine.

It could be stressful taking your dog downstairs all the time for training.

If you’re one of those dog owners who live on the 3rd or 4th floor, don’t worry, there are tips for potty training your dog up there too.

Keep reading!

1. Confine your dog to an area of the apartment

Since you’re above the ground floor, you may not be quick enough to take your dog outside and stop him from having accidents in your apartment when he wants to poop.

So, what do you do?

I suggest barricading your kitchen using a child or dog gate. You could also give him a totally separate room. It is important you do this within the first few months of moving into your apartment so your dog gets used to the routine.

Keeping your dog in one, confined space allows you to properly monitor him. By close observation, you’d be able to recognize signs that he’s ready to poop. When you see these signs, proceed to take him outside. Give him rewards when he goes correctly!

Too much freedom can make him poop anywhere and you don’t want that.

Only when your dog gets used to the process, and can clearly communicate via signs that he wants to poop or pee, should you grant him a bit more freedom around the apartment.

2. Have an Indoor Poop Spot

Having an indoor poop spot is ideal, especially if your dog is small in size. Small dogs create very manageable messes that are easier to clean. This is not to say that having an indoor poop spot isn’t a great idea for those with bigger dogs because it is, you’ll just have more poop to deal with.

Paper training your dog is a great option for you in this case. Pick out a designated poop spot and spread the floor with newspapers or special training pads (sold in pet shops).

Use the same outdoor training method by taking him to the newspaper laden floor when he shows signs that he wants to poop or pee. Remember, signs include moving in circles or looking at you and shaking his tail or body. Also, give rewards when he goes correctly.

Be sure to clean up the poop spot regularly, but you can leave a few smudges here and there just so the smell would remind him that’s his poop spot.

3. Keep your dog in a crate at night or when away

This applies mainly to puppies, and no, it isn’t a form of punishment, not by any means. Dogs, especially puppies, love cozy spaces because it makes them feel safe.

Puppies do not like soiling their living space so they’ll show signs they want to go while they’re in the crate or box. When you notice these signs, take them outside or to your indoor, newspaper laden poop spot. Give them treats when they poop in the spot you’ve chosen.

You can take them out of the box to play for some time, but be sure to monitor them carefully to prevent accidents. Also, remember to put him back in the crate or box when you’re heading out, or at night when you want to go to bed.

As they grow older, they’ll become familiar with the process, and in no time they’ll adjust accordingly.

4. Clean up accidents immediately

If your dog has an accident in the apartment, be sure to clean it up immediately. Remove all stains and smells, if you don’t, your dog will come back to the same spot to poop again.

You can take a small chunk of his poop and dump it in his designated poop spot so the smell could draw him there, which is the right place.

5. Do not scold your dog if he has an accident

Now this is something every dog owner needs to know – Dogs do not respond well to negative reinforcement!

Yes I know, accidents could be frustrating, especially when you’ve been patient, but you love your dog, right? Just show some more patience.

If you scream at your dog or hit him, he will only become more afraid of you. Scolding him constantly would create a distance between you two, and how can you train a dog that’s scared of you?

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train A Dog In An Apartment?

I assume you’d like to have your dog potty trained in your apartment as fast as possible, but it may not be that simple. It may take longer than you expected.

Potty training a dog requires several factors, such as love, patience, reinforcement, and consistency. Your aim here should be to instill good habits and develop a loving bond between your dog and you.

Puppies tend to learn faster since they’ve had no previous training or patterns. It usually takes 4-6 months to potty-train a puppy in an apartment.

Grown-up dogs may have had some previous training in a different set up from the apartment, so it’ll take a bit more time to fully potty-train, say – 1 year.

Signs That Your Dog Need To “Go”

Watching out for signs that show your dog needs to “go” is a vital part of potty-training your dog in your apartment. Your inability to notice those signs would only make it harder for you to train your dog.

So, what are these signs?

  • Scratching
  • Sniffing
  • Whining
  • Circling
  • Soft barking

You understand your dog’s habits better than anyone else, so look out for those vital signs and act accordingly!

Setbacks In Potty-Training Your Dog In Your Apartment

Dog training of any form takes patience. Your dog may not respond to training as swiftly as you would hope for, but that’s just normal.

It doesn’t mean your dog’s a slow learner or that he’s stubborn. It just means you need to keep at it and probably employ an extra strategy.

Another option to tackling slow training responses would be to hire the services of a professional dog trainer or vet. They are experienced and would know what to do.

Do's and Dont's In Potty-Training Your Dog In A New Apartment

Keep these in mind as you potty-train your dog in your apartment.

1. Do not dish out hard punishments if he has accidents – It is very normal for dogs to have accidents, so don’t be hard on them when they do. Screaming at them or hitting them would only make them fear you, and that’s a NO-NO!

You can have some treats in your hand but don’t give it to him if he has an accident. He wants the treats and would do his best to obey you just to get it. This will help him improve faster.

2. Quickly call them to order – If you spot your dog pooping in a non-delegated area, quickly call him to order. You can do this by clapping out loud or calling his name.

You could also use commands like “No”, or “Don’t”. When you make a sound or call out his name, he’ll most likely look at you to know what you want, and that’s the attention you need.

3. Have some treats available – When potty-training your dog, one of your strongest weapons is doggie treats. I’m pretty sure you know your dog’s favorite snacks, why not use that knowledge to your advantage.

Since he wants those treats, make him do what you want before he gets it. Make sure you reward him every single time he gets it right. He will quickly associate good behavior with rewards and he’ll keep up.

4. Spend a good amount of time with your dog – The more you spend time with your dog, the more you can curb his accidents.

It’s true you may not have all the time in the world, but your dog is your responsibility and you have to do your best to give him time.

A helpful tip is to have a close friend or a family member be around your apartment when you’re out.

Make sure the person is up to date with your training routine, if he/she isn’t, they would give new commands to your dog and he may get confused.


Dogs are man’s best friend, that’s why we love them. However, they require training, and training requires patience.

Potty-training your dog in your apartment isn’t a “mountain climb”, it’s very doable!

I hope the tips I shared in this article have been helpful. If you’ve successfully potty-trained your dog in your apartment in the past, then kindly share some helpful tips on how to potty train your dog in an apartment that was not mentioned here, the comment section is all yours!


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