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If you’ve never housebroken a puppy before, the job can feel intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.
With the tips suggested in this guide, we’ve achieved a fully housebroken Yorkie within months. Keep reading to learn how to potty train a Yorkie puppy step by step.
In this guide:
- First things first: questions about potty training Yorkies
- How to potty train a Yorkie puppy outside
- How to potty train a Yorkie on puppy pads
- Tips, tricks & tools for housebreaking a Yorkie
First things first: questions about potty training Yorkies
Are Yorkies hard or easy to potty train?
Although they can be stubborn, Yorkies are not any harder to house train than other breeds—at least in our personal experience. Maybe it depends on the dog, but we do know if you are not fully committed to consistently following the procedures below, it will be more difficult and take longer.
If you’re having a hard time training and you’ve wondered, “Why are Yorkies so hard to house train?”, take a look through the procedures below to see if there is an area in your training process that could be improved. It may also help to go through a digital training course, such as Brandon McMillan’s MasterClass on dog training or K9 Training Institute’s free workshop on the tactics used by service dog trainers.
>> Learn more: K9 Training Institute Reviews
How long does it take to potty train a Yorkie?
You can expect it to take approximately two months from the onset of training for your Yorkie puppy to really grasp the idea of potty training. It will probably take another few months for your puppy to be completely accident-free. This timeframe can vary depending on a variety of factors like the dog’s personality, your availability, and how consistently you follow the correct procedures.
Typically, breeders will have already started the puppy on pad training before your dog comes home, which will give you a head start.
How long can Yorkies go between potty breaks?
You can expect a Yorkie puppy to be able to ‘hold it’ for a maximum of one hour for every month of their age. So, a 2-month-old Yorkie should be able to go for two hours, a 3-month-old Yorkie for three hours, and so on. This is approximate, and you may find your dog can last longer, but don’t push it.
Not only does a Yorkie puppy have a small bladder, but its bladder and bowel muscles are still developing at this point as well, so they do not yet have full control over when they go.
At what age should a Yorkie be housebroken?
By 7 months of age, you can expect your Yorkie to be housebroken. Some dog owners may be done earlier than this. Of course, this doesn’t mean the puppy won’t have any accidents. In addition, it assumes the breeder began pad training before you took the pup home, and everyone involved in house training is consistent with the procedures.
Indoors or outdoors: what’s the best way to potty train a Yorkie?
From our own experience, we suggest training your dog to potty both indoors and outdoors, or outdoors only. But what works for you and your lifestyle may be different than what works for others. Ultimately, it’s a personal preference.
Indoor training may be ideal for those who don’t have easy access to the outdoors, like those living in apartment buildings. It might also be a better solution for those owners who for whatever reason are less able to be outdoors.
Outdoor training may be a more permanent solution for those who can easily access the outdoors, take the dog on regular walks, and those who don’t prefer pee pads in the house.
>> Read more: Training a Yorkie Puppy: Tricks & Secrets
How to potty train a Yorkie puppy outside
Training your puppy to potty outside may be the best long-term solution. It eliminates the need to buy training pads and have the pads accessible in your home at all times. You also won’t have to worry about bringing the pads with you if you decide to take your Yorkie to someone’s house or on a trip.
Of course, it may not be for everyone. Some dogs that are indoor-trained have trouble learning to potty outside at all, even on walks or while playing. For those people, we’ll cover potty-pad training below.
There are a few tricks to know when learning how to train a Yorkie to potty outside. First, you will need the right equipment. If you don’t have a doggie door, you can train your puppy to ring a hanging bell to alert you that he needs to go outside. Keeping disposable and biodegradable doggie bags by the door is a great idea to keep the area clean.
1. Pick a potty spot
You’ll need a designated bathroom location outside that the puppy will use to eliminate. It’s best to choose an area out of the way of foot traffic and one that is accessible in all weather, including rain—Yorkies don’t seem to enjoy getting wet. Grass and plants may not look so hot after repeated exposure to dog urine, so keep that in mind.
Whatever spot you choose, you’ll need to consistently use this designated area so the puppy recognizes what they need to do when you put them in this location.
2. Get ready for go-time
Knowing when a puppy is likely to eliminate is a helpful step in successful housebreaking. Puppies are most likely to relieve themselves right after playing, eating, exercising, waking up in the morning or after a nap, and right before bedtime. Within 15 minutes of these events, be sure to take your puppy to your designated place for a potty break.
If the puppy has an accident, you’ll know for the future that you need to take them out sooner next time.
3. Keep your puppy in a confined area
The key to successful housetraining is constant supervision. Yes, it can be difficult, but eventually, it will pay off. To make this easier on you, we suggest you utilize either a crate, tether, baby gate, or puppy playpen during the training period.
To use the tether method, you’ll want to have a body harness with a very lightweight, 6-foot leash. Be sure to use a harness rather than attaching the leash to a Yorkie puppy’s collar. Yorkies (even adult dogs) are more likely to incur neck injuries like collapsed trachea this way.
The other way to keep your Yorkie puppy in one location is to use a playpen or a pet gate. These can be used when you can’t keep the puppy by your side or when you need to leave the house for a little while. Place the Yorkie’s food and water in this area with a pee pad (if using) on the opposite side of the space as the food.
This confinement serves multiple purposes. It saves your house from unwelcome messes, keeps the curious puppy in a safe place, and, most importantly, it ensures you can keep a constant eye on your pup in case they decide it’s go-time.
When you see your pup making a motion to eliminate (like squatting or lifting a leg), interrupt them by saying, “No,” or with a clap of your hands. Quickly pick up the puppy and move them to the designated potty location. Continue with your verbal command.
Alternatively, you can crate train your puppy with a wire crate just big enough for your dog to stand or lie down in. If you choose this method, you’ll need to carefully track how long it’s been since your dog last went to potty, so you know how to divide their play time and crate time. You can learn more about the process in our guide to crate training a Yorkie puppy.
4. Take your dog outside and give them a verbal command
When it’s time for a potty break, pick up your puppy and put them on the potty spot. Resist the temptation to just open the door and let them outside on their own—training won’t be as successful this way.
After placing the puppy in the designated potty spot, give the puppy a verbal command of your choosing. Repeat the command word often while they’re eliminating. Consistently using the same word will help your puppy begin to recognize the command.
It can take a while for your puppy to pick just the right spot—sometimes up to 15 minutes. So, be patient. Bring a book or catch up on a podcast. But whatever you do, give your pup enough time to be successful.
It’s likely the puppy will meander and sniff around. Sniffing is actually a good thing, as they are exploring this new world and mapping out the territory they want to mark. It’s also a way they get their body to relax prior to going potty.
But if the puppy goes too far and starts to leave the designated potty area, pick them up and put them back in the correct place and give them the command word again. Do this repeatedly while remaining patient.
5. Praise your dog for doing the deed
If and (hopefully) when the puppy eliminates, give them positive reinforcement and some type of physical touch like a rub down on their back or scratching their ears. If you choose, you can incorporate a training clicker, which marks the exact moment your puppy does what you’ve asked. You want your puppy to associate potty time with positive affirmation, so they’ll want to do it again.
If you wish, you can use treats to reward your pup, but be cautious. It’s too easy to overload such little dogs with treats. If you choose to use treats, give them very small treats or buy soft treats and tear them into tiny pieces, so you don’t throw off their daily calorie count.
6. Be kind and consistent when they have accidents
Be mentally ready for accidents. They will happen. Expect it and don’t lose your cool. Pet training experts advise that you simply clean it up and move on with your day. Scolding your dog after the fact doesn’t teach them what they did was wrong.
If you catch them in the moment, interrupt them by firmly saying, “NO” while quickly picking them up and moving them to the outdoor potty location. Then, when they are finished, praise them for going potty!
Clean up messes promptly to avoid further penetration into carpets, rugs, etc. It’s a good idea to use strong detergent or an enzymatic pet cleaner (we use Bac-Out) that eliminates the smell for not only you but for your pet as well. Sometimes dogs will repeatedly eliminate in the same location if they can smell their markings.
7. Pad train at night
Always allow puppies to have access to a potty area at night. Even if you’re potty training a Yorkie to go outside, we recommend using pee pads during the night, either in their divided wire crate or in the puppy playpen. They’ll have to go multiple times per night at first, and you won’t always be able to tell.
In an attempt to train your puppy to eventually sleep through the night, you’ll want to ignore their whining and barking to get your attention—unless you feel that the puppy would like to potty outside, which usually doesn’t happen at the beginning of training.
As your puppy progresses, you may want to further reinforce training outside by taking them outside during the night. If you do this, don’t make it playtime. Only speak the command word and nothing else. Additionally, keep lights low and return the puppy to their sleep area after potty time.
How to potty train a Yorkie on puppy pads
Pad training a Yorkshire Terrier is ideal for pet owners who live several floors up in an apartment building, those who do not want to facilitate potty breaks in the middle of the night, or those who may not be able to go outside due to extreme weather or handicaps.
Some pet owners find that pad training is the way to go initially, but eventually phase it out in favor of the outdoor method. This is usually done as the puppy is physically capable of holding off eliminating for longer periods of time.
However, we have known some dogs who potty train on pee pads initially and are unable to switch over to eliminating outside. So, if outdoor training is possible, that’s our recommended training method.
Pad training a Yorkie is not all that different from training the pup outside, but you will need a few things to make it successful. First, you’ll need pee pads. We also suggest purchasing a pee pad tray sized for the pads. These trays keep the puppy from moving the pad as well as chewing on it, which can save you a big mess.
My little Yorkie, Max, tried his very best to potty on his pee pad, but he often accidentally urinated on the edge of the pad which subsequently pooled on the floor. So, if you have carpets or rugs, you may want to get a large, absorbent, washable pee pad. You could also cut a piece of linoleum and place it beneath the tray, or at minimum a large towel to protect your floor from stains and reduce cleanup time.
Lastly, plan to have odor-locking garbage bags for the dog waste and pee pads if you won’t be able to take your trash out daily.
1. Choose an appropriate place for your puppy pad
To begin, you’ll need to decide where you want to keep the pad and how many you want in the house. It’s ideal to have one designated place where the pup will have access to during the day and one where they will sleep if these aren’t the same location.
If you are using a puppy playpen, you’ll want to keep the pee pad inside, on the opposite side from any bedding or feeding bowls. If you are using a crate, you may want to try one with a divider that separates the potty area from the sleeping area. With the divided crate simply fold the pee pad to fit the space.
2. Take them to the pad around potty time
Similar to training outdoors, you’ll want to take your puppy to the pee pad first thing in the morning and after naps, and after playing, exercising, and eating. This should be done within 15 minutes after these activities. If your puppy goes before you get them to the pad, try earlier next time.
Once they’re on the pad, give a verbal command like “Potty”. Because your Yorkie won’t instantly pee, you’ll have to repeat yourself to get them used to the command word.
3. Praise them for a job well-done
Encourage this behavior by praising and petting your puppy for a job well done. Again, be careful using treats as a reward or you may over-indulge your puppy. If you do treat your pup, consider dividing treats into smaller pieces.
4. Clean accidents thoroughly to reinforce where they ought to go
As stated earlier, accidents will happen. Don’t be upset; it’s part of learning. Clean up the mess without scolding or punishing. Your puppy will have more success if you put your energy into praise rather than punishment.
If you happen to catch them in the moment, interrupt them by saying “No!” then quickly move them to the pee pad and praise them upon finishing.
Clean accidents immediately using an enzymatic pet cleaner specifically designed to remove the smells from pet accidents. This way your puppy won’t be as likely to identify that mark later and repeat the accident.
5. Reduce puppy pads over time
If your Yorkie pup is using more than one pee pad in the house, gradually reduce them one at a time until you have one pad left. Trust your gut as far as when the time is right—usually when the puppy is starting to get the hang of training and their bladder is able to go longer without emptying.
>> Read more: How to Stop a Yorkie from Barking
Tips & tricks for housebreaking a Yorkie
- If possible, alter your schedule to be home more often after getting a puppy. Also, plan to get a puppy during a time when your schedule will be more flexible.
- Schedule potty breaks after preset intervals of time. Setting a timer can help (ex. 15 minutes after lunch). You and your puppy will be more successful if you schedule consistent times for these breaks.
- Give lots of time for sniffing during potty breaks—bring something to do for yourself.
- Don’t scare or punish a puppy when they have an accident, especially if it happened while you weren’t home. Some Yorkies experience separation anxiety, which can lead to accidents.
- Be consistent—the more consistent you are, the shorter the training time!
- Remove any rugs that you don’t want ruined before your Yorkie puppy arrives; also don’t allow the dog on your couch or bed until fully house trained.
- When a puppy has an accident, assess what happened that led to the accident. Did you wait too long after sleeping to take them out? Do you need to decrease the amount of time between potty breaks?
House training Yorkies takes patience!
A lot of consistency and patience is needed when house training a Yorkie puppy. Expect it and don’t get frustrated. Continue to give lots of praise for a job well done and before you know it, you’ll have a fully housebroken pup!
>> Take the MasterClass: Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training