Let's face it: seeing your newborn puppies growing is exciting and you can't wait for them to start becoming more and more independent, but when do puppies defecate on their own? You may be specifically interested in the answer if you are the one stimulating them to eliminate. The answer is that patience is much needed to finish all the stages till your puppy finally get used to defecate himself. There is no one-size-fits-for-all and not every puppy has that diligence to train himself so quickly till he is able to take his potty breaks himself. Yet, we know that each of them will have to go through these steps.
Dependent on Mother
During the first two weeks of life, newborn puppies are completely dependent on their mothers. Born deaf, blind, and unable to maintain their body temperatures, puppies require mother’s milk to grow and develop healthily.
Mother’s milk contains complete nutrition and antibodies needed by puppies which is why replacing them with milk replacer is not recommended, unless you are dealing with orphaned puppies.
On top of relying on mother dog to stay warm and nourished, puppies at this age are not yet able to eliminate on their own. Their mama will stimulate them, by licking their bums clean even when her puppies have poop.
This is very important, failure to do so results in bloating and illness. Don’t think that it’s gross, because if she doesn’t, you’ll be the one who would need to stimulate them to go and clean up their messes!
A Time of Changes
When do puppies defecate on their own? Starting at 2 to 3 weeks the puppies become more mobile and should start to urinate and defecate on their own. This means, mother dog will no longer need to stimulate them by licking, and if you were the one who used to stimulate them by gently rubbing a moist cotton ball over their bums after each meal, you will no longer have to do this. This time coincides with when puppies are starting to be weaned, and are lapping up the first samples of puppy gruel.
"Puppies will need to be stimulated until their bladder and bowel muscles strengthen, usually by 21 days of age. Most puppies will eliminate on their own by three weeks of age." ~Dr. Race Foster
ABC of Potty Training
When puppies are able to eliminate on their own without stimulation, they should be taught the ABC's of potty training. Breeders at this point should start setting up separated areas. There should be an area where the puppies eat, play and sleep and a separated area specifically lined up with papers made just for eliminating. The puppies catch on the concept because they instinctively want to avoid soiling where they eat and sleep. So after eating they should walk a few steps to reach their "bathroom" and then go back to their eating/playing/ sleeping areas. Creating these separated areas is important, so that the pups' new owners have an advantage in the potty training process. Lack of separated areas creates puppies who soil just about anywhere they are, which is obviously problematic once they go out to their new homes.