How to House Train Your Puppy

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  1. Understand dog behavior – dogs do not know right from wrong. What they understand is safe and dangerous. When your puppy comes into your house he doesn’t understand that it is “bad” behavior to urinate on your carpet.
    • We want to teach your dog that going in the house is unacceptable. We do this by catching your dog in the act – not after the behavior has occurred but while the behavior is happening. Punishing your dog after the behavior has occurred can confuse your dog, making the house training process much more difficult.
  2. Start to develop a schedule – Putting your dog on a feeding schedule during the house training process can make your efforts much more successful. A dog or puppy that is allowed to eat whenever she wants will make house training very difficult. Also, developing a schedule to take your dog outside will make it easier on you. Always bring a dog outside within 15 to 20 minutes after meals.
  3. Acquire a kennel. It can be an airline type with a door or a simple laundry basket with a tray table lid hooked on. You can be creative, but basically he must not be able to escape. Most pups and dogs will not eliminate in their crate. When you need to go to work or have to leave the house for a while, you can put your pup in her crate. When you come home, you can immediately take her outside and not give her the opportunity to make a mistake in the house.
    • Using a crate is excellent for young dogs. At some point in your dog’s life he will probably have to go into a crate. The vet, travel, and grooming visits all require your dog to go into a crate. It is better to get him used to one while he is young. However, note that if your kennel is too big, the dog may still excrete in it. Dogs will not “go” in their immediate territory. Some dogs will go within 9 to 10 feet, and some will go within 3 to 4 feet. Make sure your kennel is properly compact.
  4. Have a designated area for your puppy to “go.”
  5. When you get your puppy home the first day, start puppy housebreaking him immediately. After he has been briefly introduced to his home and new surroundings, give him a drink of water and immediately take him outside to relieve himself. Take the puppy to the area you chose before bringing him home.
  6. As soon as your puppy finishes, praise it excitedly and immediately take him inside. From that point on, take the puppy to the same housebreaking spot each time and encourage him with a command such as “go potty,” “hurry up” or whatever you choose. Once she starts, don’t say anything else. Once your pup is finished, praise and reward her immediately. You need to let your dog know that she is doing the right behavior. During the housetraining process it is a good idea to take your dog out on leash. If you let your dog out into a fenced in area and you are not there, you will not be able to communicate to your dog that she is doing the right behavior.
  7. Be consistent using this single command only with the process of puppy housebreaking so that the puppy will learn to associate this act with the command. This will be a huge help in the future, especially when in a new environment or location when traveling, visiting relatives/friends, etc. Being completely housebroken and completely reliable is the final outcome you are looking for.
  8. Get everyone involved – if you live by yourself with your dog this step will be easy. If your dog lives in a house with more than one person, make sure that everyone is taking the steps to make the housetraining process quick and easy. The closer everyone sticks to the plan, the faster the training will progress.
  9. Take up the puppy’s water early in the evening and to not feed or water it after say, 6:00 at night, otherwise you may have to make more housebreaking potty trips than usual outside to let the puppy relieve itself.
  10. Clean up any accidents (and there will be plenty) quickly and thouroughly. Hardwood (and tile) floors should be wiped cleaned, and then sprayed with a disinfectant. Carpets need to be cleaned with a carpet cleaner. This is probably the most important step because dogs have such a great sense of smell. If they can still smell the urine they will continue to urinate in that same spot. This is also why you should have a designated area outside.
    • A lot of people get commercial cleaners at the supermarket. A lot of these products contain ammonia. Ammonia smells like urine to your dog. So if your dog urinates on the carpet and you clean with an ammonia product, your dog will come back to that spot and think that a strange dog has gone on the carpet. Your dog will eliminate again on that same spot to cover it.
    • White, distilled vinegar and water works great. Follow up with baking soda, and vacuum up the residue when dry.
  11. Let him be free in the house with supervision at first, for longer periods until you are sure he will ask to go out when he has to go. This strategy should not take more than two weeks for him to get the picture.


  • You must watch them like a hawk at all times – in the beginning of housebreaking especially. If you can not keep an eye on your puppy for some reason please put them in a safe and secure puppy proofed spot (such as a crate or some other small room with easy to clean floors, such as linoleum, closed off with a baby gate so you can peek in as needed).
  • If you are consistent in your puppy housebreaking in the very beginning, especially when it is inconvenient to you (late at night, while you are watching your favorite TV show, etc.), you will actually help the puppy housebreak itself to alert you when it “has to go.”
  • There is a direct correlation between the time you actually put into the puppy housebreaking process and the speed in which the housebreaking of the puppy successfully occurs.
  • Note that leaving a puppy’s food bowl out all day filled to the brim is a bad way to house train them (or keep them in shape). A puppy should be given 1/2 a cup of food and about 2 cups of water twice a day from weeks 1-15. as they grow, take it slowly. Don’t rush from 1/2 a cup to 3 cups extremely quickly.
  • If there is a lot of crying at first, try not to encourage it by giving him a lot of attention at these times. You can move the kennel beside the bed and dangle your hand to comfort the babe on those first few nights. Afterwards, a slap on the top of the kennel and one firmly spoken “No” should let him know you are not pleased with the behavior. Try to tire him out so that you can get some sleep on the first few nights.
  • The seventh week is critical in a puppy’s life, try not to scare the pup this week, handle with care, it will imprint on the rest of his life. Always reward good behavior with sweet talk and petting, ignore bad behavior as best you can. Placing them back in their kennel is not to be considered a punishment but is sometimes necessary, do it lovingly and with sweet talk if you can. They will soon learn that good behavior gives them more time with you and will seek that above all else.
  • Only punish a puppy for going in the house when you catch him in the act! If you find an accident, count it as your fault for not taking the puppy out enough. If you catch your puppy going in the house, grab him by the scruff of the neck (where his mother would pick him up) and say No! Picking him up by the scruff of his neck should have the effect of stopping him from whatever it is he is doing. If you pick him up and he doesn’t stop urinating, then he can’t hold it any more. Take the puppy outside immediately and let him finish. Lots of praise and a treat when they do.
  • Most dogs will learn to associate a specific door with going outside. As a puppy gets older, he will usually go to the door to be let out. Each dog will develop whatever habit gets him let out. For some this is barking, others running to the door and back to you, and others will scratch at the door (this should not be encouraged if you don’t want to replace the door).
  • Dog training really boils down to timing, consistency, and motivation. When we are housetraining a dog, we need to make sure that our timing is good – catching your dog in the act. We need to make sure that we are consistent with the training – same feeding schedule, outside schedule, and everyone in the house is on the same page. Motivation is rewarding your dog for going outside and startling your dog when they start to eliminate in the house.
  • If you need to eliminate a smell, pour about a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract on the area where the dog has eliminated. The dog will no longer be able to smell his urine and will not have the urge to urinate there again


  • A puppy should be taken out immediately (to a prearranged housebreaking area outside):
    • when it wakes up first thing in the morning (before, if you manage to get up before the puppy).
    • after each and every meal.
    • after each and every nap.
    • before he goes to bed for the night.

Remember that your puppy will get used to your schedule. So even if you have the day off, you will still need to get up to take your puppy outside around the same time as usual.

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