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How Often Should I Take My Dog Out?

Whether it is scratching at the door or a cold, wet nose under the duvet cover, dogs all have their own unique way of telling us when they need to go out. While experienced dog owners may recognize the signs, many of us still don’t know when and how often our furry friend needs to go out.

You need to take your dog out five to six times a day as a general rule. How often your dog needs to go out will depend on the dog and its age, size, and diet. Your vet will tell you that your dog must not go longer than six to eight hours without going out. Longer than this can result in conditions such as urinary tract infections and may cause other issues like having accidents in the house.

While various factors will affect how often your dog needs to go out, it’s good to remember that all dogs are different. 

Factors Affecting How Often They Need to Go

There is nothing like braving that below-freezing winter weather to take your dog out to do his business. As you stand there, begging them to go, they decide instead to sniff around for 10 minutes. Eventually, you start to wonder if the dog actually needs to go.

Being a dog owner means making such sacrifices, whether your pup needs to go or simply wants to stop and smell the roses. Luckily, there are factors we can use to help us determine how often we need to venture outside.


The age of your dog will significantly impact how often they need to be taken outside. Puppies will need to go out often. Depending on the puppy, they may need to go out every hour.

Luckily, however, as the dog gets older, their bathroom breaks become less frequent. Older dogs can usually go for anywhere between four to six hours before needing to go out. At the same time, some dogs may go the whole night without needing to relieve themselves.

As your dog gets old, they may begin to struggle with incontinence and may need to go out more. Furthermore, if your dog has a health condition such as diabetes or is on medication, it may make them need to go out more frequently (source).

adult white dog
Image by Sheri Hooley via Unsplash


Toy-sized dogs tend to have smaller bladders, which means limited storage capacity. As such, smaller dogs do need to be taken out more often. Bigger dogs tend to need to go out less because they have bigger bladders, even though they may drink more water.


If your dog has a good appetite or tends to drink a lot of water, you may find that your furry friend needs to be taken out more often. It is advisable to feed your dog a couple of hours before bedtime and then take them out just before you go to bed.

Labradors are one breed that tends to drink large amounts of water. The number of times they need to be taken out should match the amount that they consume (source).

If you take your dog for regular walks or spend considerable time in the garden, this will give them many opportunities and will play a part in how often they need to be taken outside.

How to House Train Your Dog

The trick with house training your dog is to do it when they are young, preferably when they are still puppies. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) advises that you first create a timeline and stick to it. This will give the puppy a clear idea of when it is time to go out. Essentially establishing “go times” and “no-go times” (source).

A reasonable timeline to follow is when you wake up, after meals, and after the puppy’s nap and playtimes. A general rule with puppies is to give them an hour for every month of their age between bathroom breaks. 

So if your puppy is just six weeks old, you need to take them out of the house every hour. When they are two months old, you can take them out every two hours and so on.

Once you have established a timeline, the puppy will continue to use it as they grow up. In turn, this will help both owner and dog to have a routine around when to go out.

When You Wake Up

The first thing you should do when your alarm goes off in the morning is to get your puppy outside. It’ll be the longest period that your puppy has been waiting to go out, so make sure it’s the first thing that you do before anything else.

You should always try to use the same door to go outside and then the same spot in the garden. You should monitor them closely to make sure the puppy goes and praise them for their efforts. 

Furthermore, you need to make sure that your puppy is not distracted and doesn’t stop halfway through. Watch to see that the puppy’s pee doesn’t cut off mid-stream but gradually tapers off.

The AKC also recommends you keep the puppy’s bed near yours so you can hear them whine or cry if they need to go out at night.

brown poodle on white plastic container
Image by Alison Pang via Unsplash

After Meals

You should wait between 5 to 30 minutes after the puppy has eaten to take them outside. As the puppy gets older, they will be able to wait longer after eating. As puppies can eat up to four times a day, they will need to go out after mealtime. Drinking water should also be constituted as a meal.

The AKC recommends not feeding the puppy too close to bedtime but choosing to give them their last meal of the day about two hours before it’s time to sleep.

After Naps and Play

The final part of the timeline is after the puppy had been napping or playing. Napping is treated much like nightly sleep, so after a nap, the puppy will usually need to go out. 

Because playtime stimulates the digestive system, often puppies will also need to go after playing.

It’s essential to keep an eye on your puppy when they are indoors and not to allow them the opportunity to mess inside. While accidents do happen, they are less likely to occur if you supervise your puppy (source).

If you are busy house training your dog, you may be interested to learn more about the possible challenges, such as your dog not wanting to poop outside.

Final Thoughts

One of our responsibilities as dog owners is to make sure that our pups are regularly taken out for toilet breaks and exercise. While it may not always come at the most opportune time, we need to remember that our four-legged friends rely on us.

Taking your dog out more rather than less often is always encouraged, be it in the sunshine or the rain.


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