Are Male Puppies Really Harder To Potty Train? The Truth Revealed


Potty training is one of the most important aspects of raising a puppy, yet it can often be challenging and frustrating for dog owners. Successfully potty training dogs requires patience, consistency, and an understanding of canine behavior. Many dog owners wonder if there are differences between potty training male and female puppies. This is an important question, as determining whether sex influences potty training ability can help owners set appropriate expectations and use effective methods.

This article examines key factors in potty training puppies, including physical differences between sexes and common training mistakes. Through a balanced exploration of research and expert insights, we aim to provide dog owners with a nuanced understanding of whether male dogs are truly harder to potty train than females. The evidence suggests a complex range of influences, but highlights that smart training tailored to the individual dog is more important than sex alone in determining potty training success.

Key Factors in Potty Training Dogs

There are several key factors to consider for successfully potty training dogs according to experts (The Humane Society, AKC):

Age: Experts recommend starting potty training as early as 8 weeks old for puppies. The ideal window is between 8-16 weeks when puppies are most receptive to learning. Adult dogs can be potty trained too, but it may take more time and patience.

Frequency: Take puppies outside to potty every 1-2 hours initially. As they develop control, this can be extended to every 3-4 hours. Always take puppies out first thing in the morning, after naps, playtime, meals, and before bedtime.

Rewards: Use lots of praise, treats, and play as rewards when puppies potty in the right spot. This positive reinforcement helps them learn quickly. Limit scolding for accidents.

Crates: Crate training assists potty training by taking advantage of dogs’ natural instinct to keep their sleeping area clean. Crates should only be large enough for dogs to stand up and turnaround. Close confinement helps dogs learn to “hold it.”

Physical Differences Between Male and Female Dogs

male and female dogs have anatomy differences

There are several anatomical differences between male and female dogs that relate to urination behavior. Male dogs have a penis and urinate from a standing position, often lifting their leg to raise the penis and direct urine high on objects, which is a territorial marking behavior. Females lack a penis and instead urinate through their vulva in a squatting position [1].

The marking behavior exhibited by male dogs is due to hormones like testosterone. Since female dogs lack significant levels of testosterone, they are less prone to frequent territorial marking. Male dogs often use marking to communicate information about themselves to other dogs and establish their territory. In contrast, female dogs primarily urinate for eliminative purposes [2].

Additionally, male dogs have a larger bladder capacity and can retain urine for longer periods. Meanwhile, female dogs tend to need to urinate more frequently [3]. These differences in urinary anatomy and behavior are key factors when potty training dogs.

Comparing Potty Training Challenges

There are several factors to consider when comparing the difficulties of potty training male and female puppies. According to some sources, female dogs tend to have fewer accidents and be more attentive during training than males. However, the differences are often quite small and depend on breed, size, environment, and individual personality.

One study published in the International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine analyzed over 1,000 puppies and found male dogs had a 6% higher accident rate compared to females during the house training process. However, the study emphasized individual variability within each sex.

Some common mistakes unique to male puppies involve marking behavior. Since males lift their leg to urinate on vertical surfaces, they may be more prone to having accidents on furniture or walls. Using enzymatic cleaners is important to limit repeating mistakes. Additionally, neutering before 6 months of age may help reduce marking instincts.

Larger breed male puppies may have more accidents as they mature if owners do not provide frequent enough outdoor access. Smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkies gain bladder control faster and can transition to outdoor training earlier.

While the average differences between sexes are minor, being aware of general tendencies, size considerations, and common errors can help owners set appropriate expectations and have patience during the house training process for both boy and girl dogs.

Effective Potty Training Methods

There are several effective methods for potty training both male and female puppies. The key is to use positive reinforcement techniques to make going potty outside a rewarding behavior for your dog. Some effective techniques include:

Positive reinforcement – Provide treats, praise, and attention immediately after your dog goes potty outside. This reinforces that going outside is desired behavior. Always use a positive, upbeat tone – never punish for accidents. According to, “reinforcement builds motivation to repeat behaviors. Use ample praise and treats.”

Crate training – Crate training utilizes a dog’s natural instinct to keep their den clean. Confining them to a crate when you can’t supervise teaches them to hold it until you let them outside. The crate should be just big enough for them to stand up and turn around. According to, you should “feed your dog in the crate and put safe chew toys inside.”

Teaching to go outside – Take your puppy out frequently and wait until they go potty, then praise and treat immediately. Pick a consistent potty spot outside and use a command like “go potty.” Stay outside until they go, then reward. Limit roaming freedom indoors until consistently going outside.

Marking behavior – Male dogs are prone to marking their territory by urinating on vertical surfaces. If this occurs, clean thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner. Then restrict access to previously marked areas and provide constant supervision, rewarding for going outside. Redirect and interrupt any attempts to mark indoors.

use positive reinforcement for potty training

Setting a Potty Training Schedule

Creating a consistent potty training schedule is key to helping your puppy learn to hold their bladder and bowels. Puppies under 3 months old will need to go outside every 1-2 hours. From 3-6 months old, every 2-3 hours is typical. As your puppy matures, their bladder control improves and trips can gradually be extended to 3-4 hours for 6-12 month olds.1

To start, take your puppy out first thing in the morning, after naps, playtime, eating, and drinking – any major activity. Stick to a routine schedule as much as possible. Consistency and repetition will reinforce the desired potty habits.2 Gradually extend the time between potty breaks as your puppy ages and their bladder develops. Be patient and expect accidents at first. With a structured schedule, your pup will soon learn to “hold it.”

Common Potty Training Mistakes

Potty training any puppy can be challenging, but some common mistakes can make the process even more difficult. Avoiding these pitfalls is key for effective and timely potty training.

One mistake is not picking up on your puppy’s signals that they need to go potty. Puppies give signs like circling, sniffing, and going to the door when they need to relieve themselves. Missing these cues means missed opportunities for rewarding successful potty trips outside (Source).

Another common error is punishing your puppy for accidents instead of rewarding successful potties. Positive reinforcement works better than scolding. Clean up accidents quietly and praise your puppy every time they potty in the right spot outside.

Giving your puppy too much freedom too soon in the house is also problematic. Puppies should be supervised closely or kept in a crate when you can’t watch them. Too much freedom leads to more accidents and confusion for the puppy (Source).

Lack of supervision is a key factor in potty training difficulties. Puppies need near constant watching to catch pre-potty signals and promptly whisk them outside. Frequent supervision prevents accidents and reinforces good habits.

Signs of Progress and Readiness

You’ll start to notice signs that your puppy is making good progress with potty training. Some signs to look for include:

signs your puppy is progressing

Going to the door to be let out – Once your puppy understands that outside is where they should go potty, they will start going to the door when they need to relieve themselves. Wait by the door when you see this behavior and immediately let them outside.

Whining or barking when needing to go – Some puppies will whine or bark to alert you that they need to go out. Pay close attention to these vocal cues.

Holding bladder longer at night – As your puppy ages and gains control of their bladder, they will be able to hold it longer overnight. Older puppies can sleep through the night without needing a potty break.

Fewer accidents over time – With consistent training, you should notice fewer pee/poop accidents in the house. This indicates your puppy is learning to hold it until taken outside.


Overall, the research shows there are some key differences between potty training boy and girl dogs:

  • Boy dogs tend to mark their territory more, which can make potty training slightly more challenging.
  • male dogs mark more territory

  • Boy dogs may be more easily distracted and less inclined to pay attention during training.
  • Girl dogs tend to have greater bladder control from an earlier age.

However, none of these factors mean boy dogs can’t be potty trained successfully. The most important things are being consistent, sticking to a schedule, rewarding success, managing accidents properly, and understanding your individual dog’s signals and needs. While boy dogs present a few additional challenges, they can absolutely be potty trained with time, patience and the right techniques. With a customized approach and realistic expectations, both boy and girl puppies can learn to eliminate outdoors and become reliable household companions.


The Humane Society of the United States. “Housetraining Your Puppy.”

American Kennel Club. “House Training Your Puppy.”

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “House Training Your Puppy.”

Patricia B. McConnell. “House Training Puppies.”

Victoria Schade. “Potty Training 101: How to Housebreak Your Puppy.”

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