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How Often Should You Walk Your Dog to Potty?

If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know that every time the house gets suspiciously quiet, well, something is definitely wrong. When you finally scramble to go check the scene to find your sweet little puppy, you know before you get there that you will be confronted with a little yellow puddle accompanied by a guilty-looking puppy.

As a rule of thumb, an adult dog should be taken to pee every 6 to 8 hours at a minimum. This translates to about 3 to 5 times a day. Of these times, they will typically poop one or two of them.  However, this depends on age, size, and if they’re potty trained or not.    

So, how does the rule of thumb vary based on these factors? See the nuances below and figure out what works best for you and your pup! Here are some tricks you can learn to have a clean floor and a relieved puppy!   

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How Long Can a Dog Hold Their Pee and Poop? 

If a dog is being regularly given a healthy amount of food and water, they should need to go out frequently. However, it’s important to factor caveats into this. For example, if you see your neighbor out with her dog way less than you, don’t compare yourself! Not all dogs are created equal.  

There are a few primary factors involved when considering how often to take your dog outside. These can be adjusted based on the average time of 6-8 hours.

For example, if they’re bigger (think: German Shepherd), you could assume the upper range of 8 hours in between letting them out. Or if they’re an older toy breed (think: Pomeranian), you could assume the lower range of 6 hours in between. Consider these factors below when choosing the frequency. 


If they are younger, take them out soon after they’re finished eating or drinking, as they typically need to go to the bathroom within 10 – 15 minutes of mealtime. Then, they can start to associate the time they would usually need to go out with when you’re taking them.    

As your puppy becomes an adult, they typically need to go out less. And this is when they would meet that 6 – 8-hour range. This is usually the norm. And much younger or older dogs need to be let out more frequently.

Not unlike humans, when dogs get older, they can’t control their bladders as long. It’s important to remember that this isn’t their fault necessarily. Sometimes, diapers are a good option for older dogs when they can’t quite make it.


Bigger dogs do have bigger bladders. For the dogs, this means they can hold more in between being let out. For you, this means you can go longer out of the house before you have to run back home or call on a neighbor. You may be able to push 8 or 9 hours for bigger breeds. 

Potty Trained 

The status of your dog’s potty-training journey is important to factor in. If they’re not potty trained at all, it is expected you need to take them out more frequently than adult dogs. Take them out in the morning, then at least once an hour throughout the day. Then, each month older they get you can extend this time little by little.   

A good rule of thumb with puppies: if they’re peeing or pooping in the house, you need to take them out more often. And when they do go (when they’re outside), reward them! Give them a treat and some praise to associate going outside with positivity.

It’s usually recommended to leave them in a crate when you aren’t home, so they can differentiate between being inside (where there is no bathroom) and outside (where they can go). Dogs don’t like to go where they sleep, so this clear distinction will make it obvious to puppies.   

How Long is Too Long for a Dog to Go Without Peeing

You’re probably thinking “what about when I’m at work?” And you may even be starting to consider that this may not be feasible with your lifestyle. No worries! Try to monitor your dog on a day you’re home and see how long he can go before he starts showing signs of needing to go potty.

As for a maximum, typically anything exceeding 10 to 12 hours isn’t in the healthy range – especially for a smaller dog. So, if you have an extra-long shift or sleep in a little too much, you may still be able to squeeze those things in. Just consider it the exception, not the rule. 

How to Know When Your Dog Needs to Go Out 

Dogs have body language too! It’s important to watch for the signs, even if your dog can’t directly tell you what he needs. Some of the signs include: 

  • Circling around 
  • Fidgeting
  • Scratching the door 
  • Barking or whining
  • Restlessness  

What Happens if You Don’t Let Them Out?

Besides having a mess in your house, leaving dogs inside too long can cause numerous health issues.

They can become overweight and develop bladder issues if not taken outside enough.

To help your dog mentally, even simply letting them out for a few minutes every few hours would provide a new environment and some stimulation to alleviate boredom. Boredom in dogs tends to lead to destructive behavior. So, it’s a perk for you and your dog to take them out frequently. 

Does walking help dogs poop?

Perhaps you could get your dog to poop on her morning walk before leaving for work so you aren’t greeted with a mess. According to PETMD, “regular walks can be extremely beneficial to your pet’s digestive system, and they can aid in relieving constipation”. So, get out and about – even if it’s just to the mailbox.

How much walking is required? 

As well as the benefits from a little sniff around the garden, the average dog loves walks. It’s important not to over or under-do it, so consider the factors based on their breed.

Any medical issues are also important to consider on top of these two main factors, but there are a few typical things to stick to regarding how much each dog needs. 


It’s sometimes assumed that the bigger the dog, the more exercise it needs. This is partially true; however, this rule doesn’t always apply!

Some breeds can be more specific in their exercise needs. Dogs are classed as either low, medium, or high energy breeds. This is important to consider when assessing your lifestyle with the lifestyle needs of your pooch.  

For specific breed information, a good resource is Purina. This can tell you the typical energy level associated with that dog, as well as activities it’s bred for, and will enjoy the most. This will allow you to tailor your activities to keep mental and physical engagement.   

  • High energy breeds usually require about 2 hours of vigorous exercise. If you aren’t capable of providing that, making up for it with long walks or games of fetch would be a great alternative.  
  • Lower energy breeds typically need about 30 minutes tops, so a walk and some tug of war would be perfect. 

The Long and Short Walk of It

There are plenty of aspects to consider when managing your lifestyle with a furry friend. It’s really a balancing act, but it’s not a problem if you consider both your and your dog’s needs.

Remember to factor in their breed, age, potty training level, and size before picking the perfect pooch for you! If you give them the attention and time they need, they’ll be as happy with you as you are with them!