How Much Water Should A Puppy Drink During Potty Training?

This little cutie has just gone to potty, but how
much water should she be drinking?

In a previous post, I have written about how long can puppies go without water and in another post, I looked at the question of how long can puppies go without peeing.

Well to continue my obsession with a puppy’s bladder, this post will answer the question how much water should a puppy drink during potty training?

The overwhelming majority of puppies and dogs self regulate when it comes to drinking.

And by that I mean that they will only drink as much water as they need and no more.

Yes, there are exceptions and I will explain more about these later. 

Dogs should never be without access to water during the day and this shouldn’t change during potty training.

Always have access to clean fresh water for all of your dogs to drink. 

During potty training I don’t think that it is the amount of water that your puppy has access to that should change, it is your availability to take it out into the garden frequently. 

At what age should puppies start potty training?

Puppies should start potty training from about 12 weeks of age.

A puppy’s ability to go to the toilet in a specific place (such as on a patch of newspaper) can start at a much younger age around the age of eight weeks. This stage is sometimes called “paper training”.

How long should puppy potty training take?

In my experience with our puppies, there is quite a gap between when a puppy that can go through a 24 or 48 hour without having an accident and a puppy that is 100% house trained.

You might start seeing a successful 24 hour period free of accidents from about the age of 4 months but it might take them a further 4 months before they are 100% successful day in and day out.

And remember, no dog can avoid having accidents all the time. 

No matter how careful you are, a dog will occasionally get a stomach bug or a bad dose of diarrhea which might cause them to defecate in the house. 

All puppies are unique and some dogs might not crack it until they are closer to one year old

How much water should my dog be drinking?

As I discussed earlier most dogs will only drink water when they need to and so on a day to day basis this is not something you should have to worry about.

However, if you want a rough estimate you can use a free online calculator.

In order to use this simple calculator, you will need to know how much your dog weighs (in lbs) and how much activity they have per day- low, medium or high.

The calculator will then spit out an answer using ounces, cups or gallons. Factors affecting consumption

Signs that a puppy needs to go pee

A puppy who needs to pee now, could display all manner of desperate behaviours. 

Hopefully, the routine that you have created will mean that things never get to this stage!

But just because a puppy has shown that they can hold their bladder for three hours, it doesn’t mean that they can hold it for that long every three hours. 

These include:

  • Pawing or scratching at the back door
  • Pacing around by the back door
  • Pacing between you and the back door
  • Barking at the back door
  • Sniffing around at any newspaper or pads that you are using as a toilet area in the house.

Why do puppies drink too much water?

We know that the hotter the temperature or the more vigorous the exercise, the more that a dog will drink.

But there are four other circumstances that might make your puppy drink too much water. 

[1] Polydipsia

This is when a dog drinks too much water and it is connected to having a physical illness. 

But drinking too much water (over a period of days) is a sign that there is something the matter with your puppy such as kidney failure, diabetes or Cushing’s disease. 

[2] Psychogenic Polydipsia

This next condition is a neurological condition when a dog thinks that they are thirsty and drinks too much even when they are not. 

Psychogenic polydipsia is a very rare condition and very complex to diagnose because all possible physical illnesses must be ruled out first. 

[3] Medications 

If your puppy is on certain medications, these can cause them to be more thirsty and want to drink more water. 

Medications that might cause your puppy to want to drink more include:

  • Anti inflammatory drugs
  • Heart failure drugs and 
  • Drugs used to control seizures

[4] Water Intoxication / Overhydration

Have you heard of this condition before because this was a new one to me!

Water intoxication happens when a dog swallows or absorbs far too much water.

It is normally associated with dogs who love to play in water (and get unfettered access to it) or who swallow too much water as they dive in to grab a toy, ball or stick from the water.

But water intoxication can also happen in dogs who are out in the sun for too long and who in an effort to cool down have drunk too much water. 

And most of us have had one of those moments, when our dog has misjudged a wave and got a faceful of water or they have put their face into water and come up coughing and spluttering.

On a very rare occasion, these incidents can be far more serious than the odd cough or splutter.

The symptoms of water intoxication include nauseous, lethargic and lack of coordination.

Your puppy has so much water in their body that has diluted the sodium levels in their blood way too much and it can cause swelling.

If it is not caught in time, it could be fatal. But, don’t panic, as it is an incredibly rare event. 

Puppy potty training when out at work all day

If you are in a position where you are trying to juggle a full time job and potty train your puppy, then you are in an unenviable position as that is one tough nut to crack.

In an ideal world, a dog of any age needs to not be left alone for long periods and puppies and full time jobs are a horrible mix. 

In terms of a full time job, I am estimating that including journey times you might be out of the house for at least 9 hours per day. 

You have three options of 

[1] Bring in outside help

If you are at work all day, you will need someone to come in a few times a day. 

According to the Humane Society, a puppy can hold their bladder for one hour every month of age.

And so a two month old puppy can go for about 2 hours without needing a bathroom break, whilst a four month old can go for four hours between trips into the garden. 

So at two months of age, a person will need to come in and let them out four times during the day. 

 Ideally, you have a family member that lives close by or a very kindly next door neighbour. 

Another way of managing these multiple visits is to come home during your lunch hour or by asking one of your own children to make sure they take the puppy out into the garden when they come home from school.

But for this to work you need to work close enough to home in order to come back in your lunch hour and you need to have kids!

If not, you are looking at hiring a dog walking or pet sitting service which over time will be expensive.

Realistically, if you want to get the best results possible this is your only choice. 

Not only do these frequent visits almost guarantee that your puppy will be potty trained and over time will become 100% whilst in the house, but these frequent visits will also mean that your dog has a much better chance of growing into a happy adult dog. 

You can see how challenging this is?

[2] Set up a safe area indoors

This is the second option which is available to you, if option [1] isn’t possible.

If there is no possible way that anyone can come in during the day, then you need to create an indoor space to minimise the amount of damage that having an incontinent puppy will cause.

And option [2] isn’t a great option, you aren’t really potty training, more potty managing.

And when you think of safe space, don’t think of small space.

A crate isn’t an option here. 

Dogs don’t like to defecate in the same place where they sleep and forcing a dog to do by restricting the space that they are confined in could derail the whole training process by weeks or months. 

You need to “fence off” an area which has got plenty of space for a bed and lots of floor space that you can cover in newspaper to soak up the mess.

It goes without saying that this area should ideally be tiled or vinyl flooring. Wood flooring is a poor alternative and trying to do this in a room with carpet isn’t advisable as that carpet will need to be binned in a very short amount of time. 

No matter how well you clean up, the carpet will begin to stink. 

Added to the possible physical damage of the environment is the psychological scars that you might inflict on your puppy for leaving them for such long periods. 

[3] Leaving a puppy outdoors

This is not an option because it is way too risky.

It is true that any mess will be much easier to clear up but here are the 4 reasons to not do it. 

  1. How escape proof is your garden? Are you absolutely sure that you have no gaps or holes in any fencing or gateways?
  2. How safe is your garden? Will the puppy be able to get to borders containing much loved or poisonous plants, to a garden pond? Will it have somewhere to stay warm and dry?
  3. Dogs are easier to steal from gardens than houses. 52% of dogs are stolen from gardens, as opposed to 19% which are stolen from houses.
  4. How laid back are your neighbours? A puppy that is left outdoors all day could make a lot of noise

When Should You Restrict Your Puppy’s Access To Water?

There are very few situations in which I think that restricting your puppy’s access to water is acceptable.

The first one is if the water bowl becomes a “play thing” and not something to drink from. This is when a puppy or a gang of them start to use their water bowl as a mini swimming pool as they put their noses in it or start to put their paws in. 

I think in this situation, taking the water bowl away for a short time will stop a puppy (or a few of them) from getting too excited.

 And the added bonus it will help you because you will not be clearing up a wet floor time and time again. 

The other situation is when puppies are young, lots of people like to take the water bowl away at night. 

Dangers, signs and symptoms of dehydration

If during potty training you suddenly become concerned that your puppy hasn’t drunk enough water, let’s quickly have a look at dehydration.

As long as your puppy has constant access to fresh and clean water then dehydration shouldn’t be a problem. 

Obviously keep in mind that dogs of any age need to drink more water:

  •  on hot days (as opposed to milder days) 
  • When they eat dry food (as opposed to canned food or raw food)
  • When they have had more exercise (as opposed to less exercise or less vigorous exercise.) 

Firstly, the dangers of dehydration.

Puppies and senior dogs are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated than “middle aged” dogs.

For puppies this can be because they are so highly distracted they might at times just to forget to drink.

And continue to charge at full pelt from one thing or great interest to another. 

What are some of the causes of dehydration?

Apart from the obvious hotter days of summer another important cause of dehydration could be a puppy that is experiencing a bad bout of vomiting or diarrhea.

And by bad I mean that they have vomited or had diarrhea on “multiple occasions.” 

There are lots signs that your dog might be dehydrated but some of the more obvious ones are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Thick saliva
  • Dry gums
  • “Unelastic” skin

Unelastic skin, you what?

By all accounts checking the elasticity of your dog’s skin is a good test of whether they could be dehydrated or not.

And it is really simple. Just gently lift the skin up from your puppy’s shoulder. 

The skin on a well hydrated puppy will settle back into place very quickly, whereas the skin on a dehydrated dog will take longer to ease back into its original position.

What are the dangers of dehydration? 

If a puppy gets too dehydrated, it will die as vital organs will start to shut down.  

Dangers, signs and tests for over-hydration

Overhydration is the same as water intoxication which was discussed in lots of detail earlier. 

It is easier for a puppy or a small breed dog to become overhydrated (compared to a bigger size dog) because they are smaller and it takes less water to overwhelm their bodies.

Oh yes- and because they are much harder to control or stop when they get overexcited!

What I didn’t mention earlier is that puppies who have played for too long in a paddling pool or with a garden hose or sprinkler could also be at risk of water intoxication. 

If after being around water your puppy starts vomiting or acting all drunk and uncoordinated, then this is an immediate visit to the vets. 

Tips for successful potty training

Kept watching

Stick to routine

Praise, praise and praise

Use same place

Biggest potty training mistakes

Don’t put on lead

Don’t punish

Don’t turn into game

Leave puppy alone

Stopping for rain

When do dogs pee too much

Why don’t puppies drink enough water