The arrival of a new puppy is cause for great excitement in any household. It soon becomes clearly apparent that puppy house training is an urgent priority and the number one thing to teach our new housemates.

The basic house training rule can be summed up easily:

Closely monitor your puppy to prevent messy mistakes, enthusiastically reward desired behavior every time, and if a mistake happens, work out where you went wrong.


  • Owning a puppy is a big commitment for all family members, especially in the first few days and weeks.  Puppy potty training is not a race!  The key is to prevent mistakes and establish good habits early - dogs are creatures of habit.
  • From your dogs point of view there is no right or wrong place to go to the toilet, they feel like going and just do it. It is our job to clearly communicate and reinforce where it is acceptable to eliminate and also where it is not acceptable.
  • Opening your back door every couple of hours to let your puppy out will not house train your puppy.
  • ​​A puppy's natural instinct is to keep their bedding/sleeping area clean - the potty training method outlined below utilizes this knowledge to our advantage.
  • No matter how attentive and diligent you are in the house training process there is bound to be a mistake here and there. Don't worry about it!  Just ensure that you clean mistakes up thoroughly, including the use of an odor neutralizer to take away any lingering smell.
  • My puppy house training strategy involves close supervision and confinement to start with but only so we can allow our puppy’s greater freedom and much sooner. 
  • ​Understand your puppy's capabilities and be realistic. Keep in mind you are dealing with a very young animal. Young puppies can only hold on for so long before they need to go, and they don't have much control early on.  Also keep in mind that his brain will connect to the process before he has the muscle control in his body.
  • Develop a food and water schedule. Each day feed at the same time (never close to bed time) and never leave a full water bowl down. "What goes in on schedule comes out on schedule", if you know what I mean... 

Physical Punishment Is Never An
Option In The House Training Process!

Following these guidelines will make housebreaking as easy as possible for you and your new puppy.

Start At The Ideal Age ~ The best time to begin housebreaking your puppy is when it is 7 – 8 weeks old.  At this age, you can teach the puppy where to eliminate before he has established its own preferences.  But, don’t worry if your puppy is older when you start housebreaking...they will still learn!

In And Out ~ Six to eight times a day, take your puppy outdoors to eliminate.  Choose an appropriate spot to take the puppy immediately after it wakes up (this includes those puppy naps!), after play sessions, and 15 minutes after each meal.  If you take your puppy to the same spot every day, previous odors will stimulate him to urinate or defecate.  Many puppies need a few minutes of moving around and sniffing before they eliminate, so don’t be in too much of a hurry!  Stay with the puppy the whole time.  Housebreaking problems can result if you’re unsure whether the puppy actually eliminated and you let him return to the house too soon.  And remember, the puppy needs to focus on the job at hand, so resist the urge to play with him until he has eliminated.

Key Phrase ~ If you repeat the same phrase (a good one is ‘hurry up’!) every time your puppy eliminates outdoors, he will learn that this phrase means that it’s the right time and right place to eliminate.  When you get the puppy to his outside spot, start telling him to “Hurry Up” and once he begins to go, continue saying it until he is completely finished!  The MOMENT he is done, praise him like crazy and give him a small treat!

Reward ~ Once the puppy eliminates outdoors immediately reward him!  Reward the puppy by praising him, giving him a small treat, or playing with him.  But remember, the reward must be given right then and there….not when you’ve walked back into the house. 

Supervise ~ You need to supervise the puppy indoors as well as outdoors.  Find a room in your house that allows  you to watch the puppy as much as possible.  This will help you catch the puppy if he starts to eliminate indoors.  You can also leash the puppy or place a bell on his collar to help you keep track of it.  When a pup is getting ready to potty, typically they give very specific behaviors such as sniffing, circling, and the more obvious - squatting!  When you see this, get your pup's attention (asking "do you have to potty?" is a good one!) and scoop him up or get him to follow you straight outdoors to his spot!

Crates ~ The best thing you can do for a puppy is crate train.  When you can’t supervise your puppy, or when you are leaving home, put the pup in a crate.  The crate becomes your pups ‘home’ and as a rule, dogs – even puppies – do not like to eliminate ‘where they live’.  But you must also remember that young puppies’ bladders and bowel capacities are limited….the general rule is to not crate a puppy more than its age, for example:  A 2 month old puppy should not be crated and expected to hold its bladder for more than 2 hours.  Make sure not to put a water dish in the crate!

Don’t Punish ~ Punishing a puppy after the fact is utterly useless.  If your puppy has an accident in the house, don’t go get the puppy and rub his little nose in it.  This doesn’t do any good because the misbehavior has already occurred.  Instead, try to catch the puppy in the act.  If you see the puppy getting ready to eliminate, don’t swat him  – simply get his attention (for instance, a single clap of the hands) and get him outside.  

Food ~ Don’t leave it out all day.  Feed your puppy at set times every day, and remove the food bowl after 20 minutes.  This will create regular intervals at which the puppy will need to eliminate.

Accidents ~ There are bound to be a few!  You just need to thoroughly clean any area that the puppy has soiled.  Make sure you clean with  a safe, effective  pet product that removes both odors and stains.  It is important to use the proper solution to eliminate the odors left behind, or chances are your puppy will return to that area and soil again.  Most puppies like carpet, rugs……or even dog beds on the floor.  Watch for your puppy to suddenly escape your line of vision and go in search of ‘the perfect spot’!

Housebreaking sometimes seems like it will take forever…and just when you think you’ve been successful and your little one has caught on, an accident may occur!  Stick with the training program and be consistent.  Most puppies can be successfully housebroken by 14 – 20 weeks.