Housebreaking Tips & Tricks


Welcome Home! Now that your new family member has arrived, what next? After adjusting to new surroundings, friends, and family, puppies will soon need to be transitioned into a housebreaking routine. Read on to learn about the best tips and techniques for successfully house training your new pup.

Training Tips:

Consistency and patience are two key qualities necessary to successfully house-train a puppy. Each puppy is different, but adopting these general techniques is sure to assist in the housebreaking process.

Larger dogs may adapt to their routine quickly, while smaller dogs generally take longer to be house trained. Despite size, generally puppies can hold their bladder one hour for every month of age. This means that a three month old puppy can hold their bladder for approximately three hours.

Regular Routines:

Puppies adapt best to a routine. It is best to have designated times for puppies to sleep, play, eat, and go out. Having a regular feeding schedule will help to establish consistency, as well as pre-determine times to take your puppy outdoors. Puppies should go out promptly after eating, drinking, and any kind of exciting activity (such as playing). Make sure to also initiate taking your puppy outside every night before bed, as well as every morning when you wake up.

Taking your puppy out frequently will ensure minimal accidents. It is important to take your puppy outdoors at least every two hours, as well as any other time that you notice your puppy indicating they need to go out.

Training Time:

Pick a spot outside where you want to train your puppy to go. Using a short phrase such as ‘go potty’ or ‘outside,’ will help establish recognition between the phrase and action. This also reinforces consistency in the house training routine. Make sure to stand quietly and don’t do anything that may startle or distract your puppy. Additionally, playing or going for a walk before your puppy goes can be a major distraction. Focus on the training and your puppy will soon learn to focus as well.

Remember Rewards:

Always positively respond to your puppy after he or she goes outdoors. This can either be through praise or with a treat. The most important aspect of this step is to remember to respond with an immediate reward, so that the reward is positively associated with the behavior. Puppies are easily distracted, and won’t associate a delayed reward with previous behavior.

Watch Your Puppy:

Close observation of your puppy can be another way to pro-actively accelerate the training process and prevent potential accidents. Often puppies will begin to show some sort of indication that they need to go out (whether it’s standing at the door, circling, sniffing the ground, or barking). With careful supervision it becomes easy to pick up on these signs and actively address the need for your puppy to go outdoors.

When you have to leave your puppy:

Obviously at times you will not be at home and therefore unable to watch your puppy. When this does occur, it is most effective to keep puppies in a small area, such as a pen or a crate. Puppies naturally don’t ‘go’ in the same area that they rest or sleep. Therefore, confining a puppy to a smaller area where they have a bed and enough room to comfortably stand and lie down will encourage puppies to wait until they are able to go outdoors. When used correctly, crates can be very beneficial in training puppies and a puppy will often quickly adapt to viewing a crate as a type of den or sleeping area. If you prefer to not utilize a crate for house training, small pens or baby gates can be used to block off areas such as the laundry room. Most importantly, make sure as soon as you arrive home you promptly take your puppy outdoors, and follow the steps previously outlined to establish a routine. Remember: young puppies cannot be expected to hold their bladder for more than a couple hours at a time (at most!) so if you are going to be away from home for a long period, consider arranging for a neighbor or pet sitter to come and take your puppy out.

Paper Training:

Another option for puppies that will be indoors for longer periods of time is paper training. Paper training can be an effective way to teach puppies to go indoors while still preventing accidents. Using newspapers, or specially designed puppy pads, can be used to teach your puppy paper training indoors. Keep in mind that simultaneously training your puppy to use papers and go outdoors can become confusing, and will require extra time and patience for success.

Pet Doors:

Once your puppy is housebroken, the next step will be to introduce your pup to a pet door. A doggie door make it easy for dogs (and even cats) to easily go outdoors with less supervision. Dog doors can be a truly valuable asset to any pet, as they provide greater freedom and flexibility, leaving both a happy pet and owner.

What to do in case of an accident:

Accidents are bound to happen with any new puppy. Be prepared with how to react when faced with this situation. If you are able to catch your puppy in the act, firmly say ‘no’ and quickly pick him or her up while briskly relocating them to a designated outdoor spot. In this case, reward your puppy if they finish going while outside.

If you are unable to catch your puppy having an accident, punishment is not the best response. Yelling or scolding your puppy after the accident has occurred will only confuse and scare him or her. The most effective measurement in this case is to merely clean up the accident and continue to go about your regular routine that encourages your puppy to go outdoors.

Don’t forget – make sure to carefully clean the spot with the accident, as puppies are often drawn back to certain spots with specific scents. It is best to clean with a mixture of water and vinegar, or a commercial cleaner if possible. Careful cleaning will prevent future accidents from occurring again.

Final Thoughts: 

While everything discussed above will be helpful for teaching your puppy about their new home, remember patience, consistency, and lots of love will be key. Happy housebreaking!

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2 thoughts on “Housebreaking Tips & Tricks

  1. Ryan

    Excellent point about punishment. Punishing your dog after the act does nothing, but I see so many people doing it!