Housebreaking for Puppies




Updated January 14, 2021

1. Puppies need to go out every 2-3 hours until 4 months old, then every 3-4 hours until 1 year old.


2. Take puppies out ½ hour after eating, immediately after playing, drinking, waking up or being released from crate, and once in the middle of the night. Feeding the puppy small meals 3-4 times daily will help the puppy control their need to eliminate. Leave plenty of fresh water out when you can observe the puppy. When the puppy is crated or you are not watching the puppy, the puppy must have fresh water, but offer a smaller quantity- about ½ the amount offered at other times.

3. Always go out the same door to the same area for the puppy to eliminate. The puppy will begin to associate that door and area with elimination and learn to go to that door when he/she wants out.

4. As soon as the puppy begins to sniff around, squat, look puzzled, walk in circles or cry; immediately take him/her outside to the predetermined “potty place”.

5. Give a verbal command (such as “go potty”). When the dogs goes, say “Good (repeat command) and praise the dog lavishly. The dog will begin to associate the command with the act. You must be with the puppy in order to praise him/her. Do not let a puppy outside alone while trying to house train.

  6. After the puppy eliminates, play outside for a few minutes. Do not take the dog immediately indoors. The dog will associate elimination with the end of outdoor time.

 7. Provide a small enclosed area that is easy to clean up when the dog is alone. Dogs generally will not eliminate in their crates if they can help doing so. Provide a place away from the crate for the puppy to eliminate if you are not there to let him/her out. A shallow litter box with dog litter works well for this. Paper training is discouraged because the puppy may never learn that all papers are not potty areas.

 8. If an accident does occur, clean it up immediately. DO NOT rub the dog’s nose in it or otherwise discipline the puppy. You will be giving the puppy attention for undesirable behavior. The ONLY appropriate time for discipline/redirection is the very second a puppy begins to squat. If you do catch the puppy as it begins to squat but has not yet started to eliminate, say “NO” in a deep strong voice, snatch the puppy up quickly and take him/her outside to the potty area. Immediately and thoroughly clean the area with something that completely destroys any odor. Distilled white vinegar in water (1 tablespoon per gallon) works well. You can also spray deterrent scents such as Bitter Apple or Chewguard on the area to discourage the puppy from returning.  Note: Some of these products can cause staining to carpet, fabrics and upholstery. Try a small amount of an area of the carpet or fabric where any stain will be hidden as a test.

 9. Basic housetraining will take 3-4 weeks. Do not however expect the dog to be in complete control of his/her bladder and bowel until 8-12 months of age. The puppy will need to be watched constantly until this age.