Housebreaking Puppies

The more patient and consistent you are in teaching your housetraining rules, the more quickly he will learn. Dogs are instinctively clean animals and will learn due to praise and good timing on your part.

  1. Establish a routine. Feed your puppy at regularly scheduled times, preferably 3 times a day. Most puppies will want to relieve themselves right after eating. Do not allow access to food all day long.
  2. Indoor training can be accomplished using housebreaking pads. Don’t expect your new puppy to understand that this is the place to go potty. When he goes into his “potty dance” set him on the pad and praise him if he goes.
  3. For outdoor training, go outside with your puppy so you can praise him for going potty.
  4. Choose 1 or 2 “toilet areas” your puppy/dog can associate with going potty. Direct him to these areas. When puppy “goes”, praise his success.
  5. Keep an eye on your pup while she’s inside the house. If you catch her in the act, shout or toss something near her to startle her. Then immediately take her out and if she finishes outside make sure she knows she’s a good puppy.
  6. When you are unable to watch your puppy, confine her in a crate. This helps build bladder and bowel control – although you still need to let her out every couple of hours.

Expect a few accidents. Like children, puppies need some time to learn. They cannot be expected to control their bladder for more than a couple of hours. Please do not punish them for accidents – instead praise them for going outside or on a housebreaking pad. Everyone loves praise – including your puppy or dog!

Using a Crate

I strongly urge crate training for housebreaking puppies. By using a crate, you provide your puppy with its own den and capitalize on its innate tendency to keep this area clean.  A puppy kept in its crate for a reasonable period of time no more than three to four hours at a time during the day will refrain from soiling and will learn to hold itself until you let it out.   Consistently doing this will help your puppy establish a regular schedule for elimination.  Crates also prevent young puppies from getting into mischief when you cannot watch them and confines their chewing to objects you have provided.  Like human infants, puppies need lots of rest but they also require pleasant physical contact and socialization.  Use common sense about how much time your puppy should spend in its crate.

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Introducing the Crate

It is important to introduce your puppy to the crate gradually.  It may be helpful to use treats to provide a positive association with entering the crate.  As your puppy becomes comfortable with the crate, you can increase the time that it spends there, realizing that it is important not to overuse it.  Your puppy should not live in its crate — he or she should live with you.  However, use the crate for the periods of time when it cannot be watched, when it is resting or eating and while it is being housebroken.   This time staying in the crate will teach it to hold itself.  Used this way, a crate is an important aid in your puppy’s adjustment to its new life.

The Housebreaking Schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit – consistency in your schedule will speed your success.   Start off with set times for feeding, watering and elimination – this will help you to anticipate when your puppy will have to eliminate, and thus reducing accidents.

First thing in the morning, take your puppy immediately to a consistent place that you have selected as its elimination area.  Do not let the puppy out by itself, even if your yard is fenced.  Taking your puppy out ensures that it will always use the same spot and that your reinforcement can be provided.  Always use the same door and route, and for the first several months leave one or two stools in the elimination area each day for it to smell.  Watch your puppy carefully as you let it sniff and circle around.  As soon as it appears ready to eliminate, softly repeat a simple word or phrase such as “go potty”, "make" or "hurry up" to coincide with the act.   Repeat it softly several times; once you begin the command do not stop until it actually begins to eliminate.  When he does, quietly add soft praise to the command (i.e. — “good potty”, "good make" or "good hurry up") until it finishes.

Puppies often have to go several times when they first wake up, so make sure your puppy is completely finished before you take it back into the house.  Conclude with praise and walk back into the house.  Follow this same procedure every time you take your puppy out to eliminate.  After several weeks, your puppy will start to associate your trigger phrase with its elimination. Plan to take your puppy to its elimination area at least once every hour or so during the housebreaking period.  Keeping to this schedule, you will discover that your puppy will gradually be able to hold itself for longer periods of time, establishing a sense of confidence.


1. Step one is to feed a high premium, nutritionally balanced diet to your new puppy.

Tip: Inexpensive dog food is chocked full of artificial preservatives, dyes, bad fat and low grade carbohydrates used as fillers. You can not purchase high quality dog or puppy food in a grocery store or a big box store. They don't carry high quality foods.

Tip: Keep your new puppy on the breeder's food for at least 4 days once home. Any change in diet should be done gradually to prevent digestive problems and any related house training issues.

Tip: When you are ready to begin switching to your high quality food, begin using this formula: day one – 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food; day 2 – 1/2 old food, 1/2 new food; day three – 1/4 old food, 3/4 new food and finally on day four – all new high quality food. If at any point your puppy develops a soft stool, simply go back to the previous day's formula until you get a firm stool.

2. How much you feed is important. Many people over feed their puppies and in fact, leave the food bowl down all the time so that the puppy can free feed.

Tip: The quantity they tell you to feed on the bag of food is not set in stone. Be flexible and adjust to your puppy's appetite and weight. Too much food and you will have a puppy with loose stools.

Tip: Puppies have a very difficult time or simply can not control loose stools resulting in accidents for which they should not be blamed.

3. Developing a regular and consistent feeding schedule is important.

Tip: Keeping your puppy's feeding schedule consistent on weekends as you do on week days is critical. Once you have the diet correct, there are other components you will need to put into your house breaking routine.