How to Transition Your Puppy From the Litter Box to the Outside?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Are you tired of constantly cleaning up after your puppy’s mess in the litter box? I know I sure was, and I knew that it was not the long-term solution for my dog.

Eventually, it has to change, that’s why I want to share with you some tips on how to transition your puppy from the litter box to the outside.

It’s not as hard as you think and with a few strategic steps, your doggy will be out sooner than you know!

No more litter box mess and your furry friend gets to enjoy the fresh air. Sounds good?

I will also tell you all the considerations that come along with this decision so that you can transition smoothly too!

Medical Questions? Talk to a Veterinarian 24/7.
Connect one-on-one with a licensed vet who will answer your questions in minutes.

Ask a Vet Now or Schedule a home visit

*Article may contain affiliate links to retailers like Amazon and Chewy. Learn more on our disclosure page.

Ways to Transition Your Puppy From the Litter Box to the Outside

Ways to Transition Your Puppy From the Litter Box to the Outside

It’s time to think about taking your puppy outside for potty if you’re sick of cleaning up the litter box.

Some of you might find training really tough, but I can assure you that you can effectively train your buddy to relieve themselves outside with a little perseverance, consistency, and the appropriate strategy.

Read on for actionable steps to wean your puppy off its litter box now.

Start early

One of the best ways to transition your puppy from a litter box to the outdoors is to start early.

If you bring your puppy home at eight weeks old and start working with them on potty training right away—even if they’re still using the litter box—you’ll be able to get them outside when they’re ready.

Use a grass litter box or place a fake grass pad

If your puppy is just starting to make the transition from using a litter box to using outside, it can be helpful to use a grass litter box or place a fake grass pad in the area where they’ll be going.

This way, they will have the scent of grass as they do their business, which can help them make the association between what they’re doing and where they should go.

Key Benefits

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Comfortable and safe
  • Reduces mess and odor
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Makes the transition to outside seamless

Placing your dog’s pee pad closer to the outside

This method is to slowly acclimatize your dog to the outside and reduce any fears it might have.

Ensure that you have a designated potty area outside already before doing this to prevent any confusion for your dog.

Day by day, you can close the gap between the pee pad and the designated spot until the point where you can remove it totally.

Increase the frequency of going outside

Another effective way to transition your puppy from using a litter box to going potty outside is to increase the frequency of outdoor potty breaks.

This can help your puppy learn to associate the outdoors with going potty and reinforce the behavior.

What you can do is increase the frequency of outdoor potty breaks by creating a schedule, giving your puppy plenty of opportunities to go, and watching for signs that they need to go (such as sniffing, circling, or whining).

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: How to help a dog with broken leg poop?

Use rewards and positive reinforcement

Make use of a reward that your puppy loves, like a treat or toy, and use it consistently to reinforce good behavior.

While doing so, be sure to praise your puppy verbally and use a happy and excited tone of voice immediately after they go potty outside.

Remember, timing is key, so make sure you reward your puppy right after they go potty outside.

You got to stay consistent in your training method and you’re going to see the results you want very soon.

Get them to alert you

To get your puppy to alert you when they need to go potty outside, there are a few things you can do.

First, keep an eye out for signs like sniffing or circling that may indicate that your puppy needs to go.

Second, train them to understand a command like “outside” or “potty” to use when it’s time to go outside. Make sure to say the cue each time you take your puppy out.

Third, hang a bell or chime on the door you use to take your puppy out and ring it every time you go out.

Encourage your puppy to ring it with their nose or paw when they need to go.

And finally, when your puppy alerts you that they need to go potty outside, be sure to praise and reward them.

Learn this: When do puppies start drinking water and eating food?


Consider keeping your dog in a crate as this can train your dog to hold its urine and bowels until it’s time to go outdoors.

Why? Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping spots, so when it’s time to go, they will go!

As an alternative, you can create a tiny playpen or gated room in a quiet corner of your house.

What’s going to make this successful is to set up a routine and stick to it.

Do you know if you should put two dog crates side by side?

Clean up accidents immediately

What you’re trying to achieve here is to not let your puppy get used to peeing or pooping inside.

The thing is, dogs have a keen sense of smell, and trust me, those scents from its business are not going to be gone entirely if you don’t do a good job cleaning it up.

If your dog can still detect the scent of their own waste in an area, it may be more likely to go potty there again in the future.

To clean up effectively, use an enzyme cleaner designed specifically for pet messes to thoroughly clean any soiled areas.

Is My Puppy Ready to Stay Outside?

Is My Puppy Ready to Stay Outside?

Before your puppy sets out and explores the world on its own, you want to make sure that your furry friend is safe and comfortable at all times.

If you’re considering allowing your puppy to stay outside, it’s important to ensure that they are ready for this transition.

Here are a few things to check off before doing so.

It explores the outside on its own

Your puppy might not be ready to remain outside without your close supervision if they are reluctant or afraid to go outside on its own.

In this situation, it’s better to continue using positive reinforcement training to increase your puppy’s comfort and confidence.

On the other hand, if your puppy is eager to explore and seems comfortable being outside on their own, it may be ready for more independent outdoor time.

Just don’t forget access to plenty of water, shade, and shelter!

Older age

Although some puppies are more adventurous than others, others may need more time to develop and mature before they are ready for this transition.

In general, puppies under six months of age should not be left outside unsupervised, as they are still developing their physical and behavioral capabilities.

This includes their ability to regulate body temperature, as well as their ability to recognize and respond appropriately to potential threats in their environment.

As your puppy gets older, it may become better equipped to handle longer periods of time outside on its own.

If you’re unsure whether your puppy is ready to stay outside, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and provide close supervision until you feel more confident.

After socialization

Socialization is an important part of your dog’s growth.

To help your puppy gain confidence and learn how to behave appropriately in their environment, socialization involves exposing them to a variety of different people, animals, and places.

If your puppy has not yet had enough socialization, they run the risk of developing anxiety or fear when left outside alone.

This can cause behavioral problems like destructive chewing, digging, or barking, and it might even put your puppy in danger if they try to flee or act in an unsafe way.


Vaccines protect puppies from a range of potentially serious and even life-threatening diseases, including distemper, parvovirus, and rabies.

Therefore, you have to make sure your puppy has had all the vaccinations before letting them spend extended periods of time outside alone.

Puppy immunizations usually take place within the first few months of life, and depending on the vaccine, booster shots may be needed annually or every few years.

You should also not allow them to interact with other animals before they are fully vaccinated.

Start wearing a collar and leash

If you want to get your puppy outside to do their business, it’s important that they learn how to walk on a leash and wear a collar.

Start by getting them used to the collar first—put it on them when they’re not distracted by anything else and give them treats while they wear it around the house.

Once they’re comfortable wearing their collar all day long, start attaching a short leash so that you can take them outside with you.

Your puppy will begin to associate the leash with going outside, so it’s important that you start wearing it as soon as possible.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Puppy won’t sleep unless next to me

When Should You Transition Your Puppy From the Litter Box to the Outside?

Transitioning your puppy from the litter box to the great outdoors is an exciting milestone, but it’s important to do it at the right time.

While some puppies may be ready as early as 7-8 weeks old, it’s crucial to consider multiple factors such as age, socialization, and vaccination status.

Keeping an eye out for behavioral cues like exploring the outdoors on their own and sniffing or circling before going potty can also indicate readiness.

As with any transition, patience and positive reinforcement are key to ensuring a smooth and successful experience for both you and your furry companion.

dog essentials banner in content

Potential Problems When Transitioning Puppies From the Litter Box to the Outside

Animal attacks

Depending on where you live, there may be wild animals such as coyotes, foxes, or even larger predators like bears or mountain lions.

In this case, you really need to consider if letting your dog out on its own is a good idea or not, especially during dawn and dusk when many predators are most active.

One potential solution might be to consider installing a fence around your property to prevent other animals from entering.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: How high should a dog fence be for a lab?

Germs and bacteria

This is particularly true if your puppy hasn’t had all of its vaccinations.

Nasty germs and bacteria that can infect or sicken your dog can be found in large quantities in outdoor surroundings.

Before letting your puppy go outside to explore, ensure sure they have received all of their recommended immunizations to reduce the danger.

Allergic reactions

Dogs are susceptible to developing allergies to a variety of environmental elements, including pollen, mold, and dust, which are more common outside.

Skin irritation, itching, sneezing, and respiratory discomfort are just a few of the different ways that allergic responses in dogs can present themselves.

How to prevent all that? Maintaining a clean, allergen-free yard and surrounds is your best defense.

Negative surface preference

As you transition your dog outside for potty, they could find it difficult to get used to new surfaces like grass.

This may cause them to hold in their bowel or urine movements, which may result in house accidents or discomfort for your puppy.

That’s why one of the steps described above involves using a grass litter box or fake grass pad. Don’t skip that.

Hey there, sorry to interrupt but I wanted to tell you about an online vet service I’ve been using for years.

An in-person visit with one is great, but it’s not always an option.

Now, thanks to technology, you can speak to one without leaving your home.

Remote access
Avoidance of travel
Reduced stress for pets
Immediate access to experts
Quick response time
Schedule appointments easily

Got something to ask a vet?
Talk to one anytime, 24/7.


* Don’t use this service for emergencies.

Alternatively, a vet can come out to you instead (exclusive to our readers: use THEVETS15 for 15% off).


Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.

Doggy says, consider checking this out too: Best Heat Lamp for a Dog Hoouse

What If Your Puppy Doesn’t Want to Go Outside?

Tether your dog

Put your puppy’s crate or bed outside to start, and then fasten a long leash to their collar or harness.

The leash length should be gradually increased to provide your dog with more mobility.

This way, your dog will become accustomed to being outside and not require tethering as time goes on.

Keep in mind to reward and praise your dog for having positive behavior.

Hire a trainer

At your wit’s end? You might want to hire a trainer to help your puppy feel more secure and confident outside.

He or she can then evaluate your pup’s behavior and develop a training program that is specifically designed for them.

Also, they can show you how to promote good behavior and lessen fear or anxiety.

Consistent Schedule

Dogs love routine, and if you can get them into the groove of one, there will be much less resistance.

Maintain a schedule and take your puppy outside every day at the same time.

This way, they can anticipate and get ready for going outside thanks to this.

Be patient and persistent in encouraging your puppy to go outside, and don’t forget to reward and praise when necessary!


At what age do puppies learn to potty outside?

Puppies typically start to learn how to potty outside between the ages of 12 to 16 weeks. However, the exact age may vary depending on the individual puppy and its development. Ideally, consistent potty training should start as early as possible to ensure success.

Can I take my 8 week old puppy outside to potty?

Yes, you can take an 8-week-old puppy outside to potty. Just make sure to supervise your puppy closely and keep them on a leash to prevent them from wandering off or getting into any dangerous situations. It’s important to ensure that your puppy has received all necessary vaccinations before doing so.

In Conclusion: Transition Puppy From Litter Box to Outside

Although it can seem difficult, transitioning your puppy from utilizing a litter box to using the outside world is an important developmental stage.

You can help by providing it with basic training, setting up a routine that is regular, and keeping an eye out for any issues.

Always be patient, and don’t be afraid to ask a professional trainer or veterinarian for guidance if you need it.

Check out other dog care topics such as overgrown dew claws, what to do if you accidentally bought puppy food, and many more on our blog!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

Share this post!
Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

no more bad dog breaths banner