Potty Training a Puppy in a High-Rise Apartment

Getting a puppy is exciting, but puppies are also a lot of work! And they can be even more work if you live in a high-rise apartment. You won’t be able to just open your back door and let your puppy out when he needs to go relieve himself. Instead, you’ll need to gear up and bring him out yourself.

Potty training a puppy can be difficult at the best of times. But when you live in an apartment, the process might feel downright impossible.

Luckily, it’s not. It’s absolutely possible to housebreak your puppy in your high-rise apartment. It might just take a few extra steps or modifications. But follow the right steps, be patient, and stay consistent and you’ll have a perfectly potty-trained puppy living with you in your apartment.

Implement a Regular Routine

The number one thing when it comes to housetraining is to work on a routine. Routines help both you and your puppy know what to expect and when. It might take some trial and error, but once you find a routine that works for you and your puppy, you’ll find that the potty-training process comes much more easily.

Having a good routine is important no matter what type of building you live in, but it’s especially important if you’re in an apartment. You won’t be able to just pick up your puppy and run him outside. You’ve got a long trip down in an elevator to consider, which is exactly why scheduling your puppy’s regular bathroom breaks is imperative.

You also may need to do some extra walking once you get outside to find some grass. Your apartment building may open up onto a busy sidewalk, which means you also need to account for the time it takes to reach a grassy patch.

As a general rule, puppies can hold their bladders for the number of hours equal to their age in months plus 1. So, for example, an 8-week old puppy can hold his bladder for 3 hours. However, that’s about the maximum length of time you should be leaving your puppy without going outside. Try to make up your schedule so that you’re bringing your puppy out at least once every hour.

Watch for Your Dog’s Signals

When your dog has to go, he’ll probably start displaying certain signs. Maybe he goes to sit by the door and cries, or maybe he gets up and starts pacing. It might take a while to identify your own puppy’s bathroom signals, but the more time you two spend together, the more you’ll be able to tell when he needs to go to the bathroom.

You’re going to want to pay extra attention to these signals if you’re in a high-rise apartment. Make sure you’re always keeping an eye on your puppy so you can catch him and get yourselves to the elevator for that long ride down.

Have Indoor Potty Options

If you live at the top of a high-rise building, then you may not always be able to make it down in time for your dog to go to the bathroom outside. Even as you get to know his signals, by the time he’s showing them it may be too late.

In these cases, you’re going to want to have some indoor potty options. This way, your dog can still relieve himself without making a mess on any surfaces you don’t want him to.

Puppy pee pads are one option and make for easy and convenient clean-up. But be forewarned that they do have some drawbacks. Your puppy might learn that going to the bathroom inside is what he should be doing since that’s where the pee pads are.

Puppy pee pad

A better option might be to set up a puppy litter box. Some manufacturers even make puppy litter boxes made with real grass, so your dog can learn to properly associate bathroom time with going outside.

If you have a patio or balcony, putting a little grass patch out there is another really good idea. This way if you don’t think you’ll have time to make it downstairs, he can still associate bathroom time with going on the grass.

Carry Your Puppy Downstairs

For the first few weeks that you have your puppy, your best bet is to carry your puppy down the hall and in the elevator. This will prevent him from having any accidents inside.

Remember, your puppy is still learning how to hold his bladder, and where it’s appropriate to relieve himself. He doesn’t necessarily understand that he shouldn’t be going to the bathroom in the hallway or the elevator.

As your puppy gets older and can better hold his bladder, you’ll be able to stop carrying him down. But until then, stop him from soiling the communal areas of your building by holding him until you get outside.

You should also make sure to hold him steadily in your arms. His little bladder is still small and delicate, and jostling him around too much might result in an accident on you!

Praise Your Puppy

puppy does his business on the grass

You should remember to give your puppy lots of praise and rewards whenever he does any behavior you approve of. Once you get your puppy outside and he does his business on the grass, make sure to treat him to let him know that he’s done something you like.

It’s especially important to do this in an apartment. It’s not easy to just bring your puppy out your backdoor and onto your lawn when you’re in a high-rise. This means that you’re likely to have more accidents inside.

So any time your puppy holds it until you make it down the elevator and outdoors, praise him lavishly so he associates going to the bathroom outside with good things.

Housetraining a puppy is challenging no matter if you’re doing it in a bungalow or a high-rise apartment. Even so, there’s no denying that potty training a puppy in an apartment requires a little extra work. You’ll need to be even more on the ball about your puppy’s routine, make sure that you have good indoor potty options in the event of an accident, and praise your puppy a lot as soon as he goes to the bathroom outside.

And don’t worry, the older your puppy gets, the longer he’ll be able to hold his bladder and the easier housebreaking will become. It takes work and patience, but all dogs can be potty trained—even in apartments!