The 5 Secrets to Potty Training a Puppy in an Apartment

Potty training a puppy can be a challenge. If you live in an apartment you might even think it’s impossible. But here is the good news dog lover: You can live in an apartment and still have a puppy. (As long as your landlord doesn’t mind!) The 5 secrets to potty training a puppy in an apartment are easy to remember because they all start with the letter P. They are:

  1. Planning
  2. Preparing
  3. Puppy Pads
  4. Praise
  5. Persistence

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

how to potty train a puppy

Planning Ahead to Apartment Train Your Puppy

If you’re going to be successful at potty training your puppy in your apartment, the first thing you need is a plan. Potty training a puppy takes some one on one time with your puppy, so try not to bring home your puppy during a busy time of year for you. If you’re going to be away from home for work or school for long periods it’s not a good time.

The trick to potty training a puppy is to reinforce good behavior and lessen the chances for wrong behavior. Good behavior is going in the area you want your puppy to go. Wrong behavior is when your puppy goes somewhere in your apartment you don’t want them to go.

The more you are around, the more you can reinforce the good behavior and the more you can limit your puppy’s chances to form bad habits. Therefore, the better you plan, the better able you will be to potty train your puppy in your apartment.

Preparing: 5 Things You Need To Start Potty Training

In addition to scheduling, part of the plan involves preparing your apartment. To potty train a puppy in your apartment you will need the following:

  1. A crate, or house for your puppy.
  2. Puppy Pads or equivalent.
  3. A designated area in your apartment where you want to train your puppy to go.
  4. A phrase you want to use as a cue for your puppy to go potty.
  5. An agreement among everyone in your apartment on the plan so everyone is on the same page.

Puppy Pads Mark the Spot

In order to apartment train your puppy, you need to set aside a room in your apartment where you want your puppy to potty. You will want this area to be away from where your dog will eat and sleep. Also, try not to use a room with carpet for obvious reasons.

Prepare the area by placing puppy pads down. When you start training, make the area bigger than it will eventually be.

What are puppy pads? Puppy pads are made of absorbent material so that when your puppy pees on them, they absorb the liquid without soaking through like newspaper would. Puppy pads also include attractants to encourage your puppy to use them. They also include odor blockers to keep them from getting smelly.

You can also use artificial grass pads which are definitely more attractive to have in your apartment. They even have ones with real grass.

Praise is Critical to Success in Potty Training a Puppy in an Apartment

Once you have everything in place, the plan is simple. When your puppy starts to go or looks like he’s about to go, pick the puppy up and immediately take him to the puppy pads.

The more time you spend around your puppy, the more you will pick up on its cues. Usually a puppy will start to sniff around or give other signs that you will soon recognize.

First thing in the morning, you should take your puppy directly from his crate to the puppy pads. Remember that puppies have small bladders and can’t hold it for long. Dogs will try not to go on their crates, but if you leave a puppy in a crate for too long they won’t be able to hold it.

Once your puppy goes, be sure to heap on the enthusiastic praise. Dogs love praise. Many people underestimate the effectiveness of praise with their dogs.

Use Your Magic Potty Words

Whenever you put your puppy on the designated potty space in your apartment, be sure to use the same phrase each time. It can be “go potty, “make some magic” or something more creative. Just make sure it’s the same each time. That phrase will become the command your puppy associates with taking care of business.

Persistence is Key to Potty Training

None of this will work if you don’t follow through. Puppies don’t get potty trained overnight. Your puppy will have accidents, this doesn’t mean you are failing and should give up.

If your puppy has accident while you are there, pick him up and take him to the puppy pads. Never hit your puppy or rub his nose in it. This won’t help. Plus, who wants to be a jerk to puppy?


See, you can potty train a puppy in an apartment. Adopting a puppy is a big responsibility so make sure you are up to the challenge.

If you need more tips, check out our free Everyday Training Guide.

how to potty train a dog in an apartment

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