How to Potty Train a Dog in an Apartment

Potty training is a concern for most new dog owners. If you live in an apartment, this concern can be a more important one since you don’t want your puppy or dog to make a mess indoors. A very reliable method of house training a dog of any breed is the newspaper method.

For best results, start training a puppy early on. The sooner good habits are formed, the easier the process will be for both you and your pet.


1 Pick out the area where you want your puppy to learn to potty. A laundry room or bathroom with a vinyl or tile floor works well. The potty area should not be near the dog’s bed or food, so if your apartment is small you may not want to keep it all in the same room.

2 Spread newspaper over a large area of the floor. You will gradually reduce the area covered to just one spot.

3 Put up a puppy gate to keep your puppy near the papered area in the apartment when you aren’t home. This will keep the puppy from establishing a habit of going in the wrong place. It is best not to leave the dog alone in the apartment until it is house trained because you can only be consistent if you are there.

4 If you see your dog getting restless or it seems like she is looking for something in the apartment, this is probably a sign that she needs to use the potty. Pick the dog up and carry her to the newspaper. If she goes on the paper, praise her enthusiastically and reward her with petting or a treat.

5 Clean up the paper soon after it is soiled and replace it with clean paper. Save one of the old pieces of paper with light soil and put it on top of the new paper. Dogs operate largely on smell and your puppy will try to use the same spot every time if she smells it. If your dog makes a mess in the wrong place, clean it up immediately with a product that also deodorises.

6 After your puppy has used the paper successfully a couple of times, reduce the area of floor that is covered by paper. Continue this process until you are down to just a couple of sheets of paper.

7 Replace the paper with an indoor dog potty if desired. Indoor dog toilets are designed specifically for apartment dogs who don’t have a yard to go in.

8 If you have a male dog, get him neutered so that he won’t mark the inside of the apartment.

Tips and warnings

If you catch your dog going in the wrong area, make a noise to interrupt her by saying something like, “Oh no!” Then pick her up and put her on the paper. If she finishes her business on the paper, praise her. Do not rub a dog’s nose in the mess. This outdated technique makes a mess and doesn’t help in the training process.

Some dogs can be potty trained almost immediately, while others will take weeks to fully learn. Let your dog set the pace. If she makes a lot of mistakes, go more slowly.

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