We just got a 15 week old Welsh terrier. He just got his second round of vaccinations at 15 weeks (which seems a little late, but was out of our control). We live in a 3rd floor walkup in New York City on a street with tons of pedestrians and dogs, so we're afraid of taking him out to potty because we're afraid of him getting parvo.

He won't be done with vaccines until he's 19 weeks and I'm afraid at that point it'll be really hard to break the habit of going in the apartment. What do we do? We're trying to paper train him, taking him to the kitchen with a pee pad. He's only allowed near the pee pad when it's bathroom time.

Some people seem to think it's ok to take him outside, as long as we keep him from other dogs, but I have no idea what the risk is or how common parvo is here. Dogs' pee and poop is on the sidewalk all the time, and there are a lot of them. Help!

Update: Did the pee pads for a little while, then started taking him out to the same spot that seemed somewhat low risk (no soil, just asphalt). After a few weeks of rewarding him with treats for going outside, he hasn't had an accident in a while, and tells us when he wants to go out. All is well.

  • I agree with @Mario, the saying "Old dogs can't learn new tricks" isn't necessarily true. It will just require more patience once you are ready. Another option for you could be one of those turf training pads for pets. It is just a strip of plastic turf that your pets can go to the bathroom on. Try looking up the "Tinkle Turf" or "Puppy Potty Trainer" Jan 7, 2016 at 15:14
  • I would consult with your vet about your parvo concerns. It may be that the risk is low enough now that it's worth house breaking now. It is true parvo is a very hardy virus that can live outside a host for a very long time, but you can also track the virus in from outside, so keeping your dog inside may not decrease its risk either.
    – Kai
    Jan 7, 2016 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


(1) While the parvo virus is very contagious, I've never heard of it being contracted from encountering another dog on the street. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but normally, I've heard of it spreading in environments where animals are kept in close quarters and/or live together.

(2) Waiting a few more weeks until he has all of his vaccinations isn't going to ruin any hope of potty-training. My Dudley was a rescue from a hoarder (which meant he went anywhere inside). When I got him, he was 10 years old and had a UTI. No telling how long he had it. He drank tons of water to dilute his urine. This meant that he pottied about once an hour. It also meant lots of accidents. Despite years of repeated behavior and being an older dog, he quickly learned that telling me he needed to go out and pottying outside earned him a yummy treat, where going inside didn't get him one.

The challenge with puppies is that, like small children, they don't start out with much bladder control. But if you positively reinforce going outside, especially if you reward it, he'll quickly pick it up. Until then, I would limit where your puppy wanders (he may complain a little but he won't hold it against you) and make sure you use an enzymatic cleaner on any accidents to get rid of the smell of the urine. Dudley also didn't potty when he was in his crate, so you might think about crating your puppy when you're not at home. Instinctually, dogs don't go to the bathroom where they sleep. Just make sure that there's not too much room in the crate (just enough to turn around) because if there is, the puppy might potty at the opposite end.


Usually a dog is never too old to learn, it just might take a bit more patience. We recently adopted a (back then) 7 months old husky without potty training and got him to do it outside within about two weeks (bit less actually).

Just get your dog a place to do it, preferably something you can move/clean easily, like a plastic pan. There are also premade training mats/sets for that as well.

Set it up in the floor or where there is space and train using it. Later on you can then slowly start moving it towards the door and later on outside (you can prepare that just in time, if you can't keep it outside, e.g. due to lack of space out other people living there).

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