How to Potty Train a Dog in an Apartment


When you live in an apartment or condo, housebreaking your dog can be a challenge, especially if you’re navigating stairs or elevators. A regular schedule can help smooth the process.

Apartment Challenges

An essential part of housebreaking involves being able to read your dog’s cues that he needs to go out and quickly getting him to an appropriate spot. When you live in an apartment and it takes longer to get to your designated elimination zone, preplanning is key. Always plan to have your dog outside within 10 minutes of eating, drinking, sleeping or chewing.


  • Some apartments and condos have specific areas set aside for dog elimination needs. Check with your landlord to learn rules and regulations. You’ll likely be required to clean up after your dog, so pooper-scoopers or plastic baggies are essential.

Leash and Crate Training

In the early training stages, keep your dog leashed and keep the leash attached to you when you’re home. If your dog starts to eliminate inside, say, “outside” and quickly get him where he needs to go. When you’re not home, keep him kenneled. Be mindful of time -- puppies and older dogs can’t “hold it” as long as young and middle-aged dogs.


  • Puppies can only be expected to hold their bladders for about one hour for each month of age.

Piddle Pad Training

Use commercial absorbent piddle pads or thick newspaper pads to housebreak your dog indoors. This can be an effective backup system or even a permanent solution if you want to train your dog to eliminate in a designated indoor spot. Treat the piddle pads as you would an outdoor bathroom spot, taking your dog to the pad when you think he needs to go and rewarding him accordingly.


  • If you decide to have an indoor bathroom for your pup, establish it in an out-of-the-way area. A laundry room or bathroom with laminate or ceramic flooring is best.


  • Commercially produced "indoor bathrooms" are available for small dogs who live in apartments. Many feature artificial turf and a removable, odor-absorbing tray that collects waste. This can be an ideal solution for pets or owners with mobility issues.

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog for doing his business outside with special treats and lots of attention. Never yell at or scold your dog harshly, as it diminishes trust and makes your pup fearful.


  • Clean up accidents or your dog may go back and use the same spot repeatedly as a bathroom. Never rub your dog’s nose in accident zones.

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