Housebreaking Puppies

  1. Keep the dog in a safe place when you are not home or are asleep. A crate just large enough that he can lie down and stand fully erect is usually ideal for this. A small room with a baby-gate rather than a closed door will also work, provided this safe place is a place where the particular dog will not use the bathroom. You are trying to help the dog develop control.

  2. When you are able to watch the pup, keep pup always in the same room with you. If you see pup start to have an accident, say "No, Outside" at the very same time you scoop up the puppy and run outside. For a dog you cannot carry, use a leash. No punishment, EVER. That doesn't work for housetraining, and can cause nasty complications.

  3. When you are outside in the right place for pup to relieve, use a cue phrase, such as "Go Potty." This is only used at the time and the place where you want pup to do it now. Never say it before you take the puppy outside. While you're still in the house, only use the word "Outside."

  4. When pup relieves outside, praise sincerely. If pup likes a treat, you might have some hidden on your person, and whip one out to give at that moment. If pup likes to play outside, allow a little playtime after pup relieves. If your puppy wants to get right back inside, reward the pup by going right back inside.

  5. Every time pup has an accident in the house, it confuses the puppy. Therefore, you need to supervise or confine your pup 100% of the time. If necessary to keep you watching the puppy, sometimes you can fasten yourself to the puppy with a leash at your waist.

  6. Schedule food and water. Give water whenever you can, but not in the crate, and not right before the dog is going to have to wait in the crate for some time. Modify this, of course, if the vet recommends it for your puppy or your situation. Feed at least twice a day, the best dog food you can get (cheap dog foods cause housetraining problems, as well as many other problems), and keep the food to a careful schedule. Scheduled food going IN leads to scheduled poop coming OUT, and that is very important for housetraining.

  7. With a small dog, you also have the problem that the dog sees the house as very large. Relieving off in a corner of a quiet room can seem to the small dog's instincts to be far enough away from the pack. A larger dog will more naturally prefer to go outside. That's one reason this process can take longer with small dogs. Small male dogs may be stimulated by instincts to mark territory in your house, while larger male dogs would rather mark a larger territory, outside the house. It can be helpful to expand your small dog's freedom in the house more slowly. Remember, any mistakes that you do not see and correct by taking the dog outside right then will confuse your dog, and make housetraining take longer.

  8. One thing that frequently confuses people is that the dog can hold it for 8 hours during the night or when they are away at work. That makes them think 8 hours is reasonable to ask of the dog at other times, too. However, during sleep, the body quiets the bladder and bowels, to allow this longer period of time. When you're gone, the dog likely sleeps a lot, too, since dogs sleep about 14 hours a day. When the body has had to hold it like this, then it has to catch up. That makes going out every hour even more important. Take your puppy out at least twice in the morning before you leave for work, too.

  9. If you find an accident the puppy has had in the house that you did not see happen, that is more your mistake than the puppy's! Whatever you do, never punish your dog for this.

Written by Melissa Smith