Skip Navigation

How Can I House Train My Puppy?

Proper house training of a puppy or adult dog is essential if he is to be a welcome member of the family. Fortunately dogs have instincts that make it easy to teach them proper habits if we are consistent and patient with them. Because dogs are den animals they prefer not to relieve themselves in their sleeping area. This is the basis of house training.

Major Points to Follow for Successful House Training:

  • Keep your puppy or dog confined when not directly supervised. You must keep your dog confined when you can't directly supervise his actions. Crating is an excellent way to confine your pet. A crate should be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably but not so large to give him the impression that it can be used for a toilet. Young puppies should not be left in a crate for more than two hours at a time. As the dog gets older, you may need to crate him longer while you are at work, but make sure he is out with you as much as possible and gets plenty of exercise. To teach your dog to stay in the crate, line it with a soft towel, mat, or blanket. Put in a few toys and maybe a snack for him. You may also want to feed him in the crate so that he learns that the crate is a good place, a safe place. Initially leave the door open and let your dog go in and out as he pleases. Next, close the door for a few minutes at a time. If you put him in the crate after playing with him, he will most likely go to sleep right away. If used correctly, dogs learn rapidly that the crate is a good place to be. Do not leave a collar on your dog when in the crate. You don't want your dog to have his collar get caught on anything and choke to death. If you don't have a crate, keep your dog where you can keep an eye on him. Confine him in a small, safe area when you cannot watch him. Baby gates are ideal for both keeping your dog near you and creating an area for him to stay while you are gone. Block off the kitchen or laundry room, put papers down on the floor, and put his bed and toys in there with him. Unlike a solid door which isolates and upsets him, a baby gate allows your dog to see, hear and smell his family.
  • Take your dog out frequently. This is the most important part of house training. You must take your dog out frequently. This means after waking up, after eating, and playing. Take your dog out to the same spot in your yard each time and when the puppy goes to the bathroom, praise him. Use the same commands each time, example before going outside to go potty: "Do you need to go potty?". Learn to recognize his pre-potty pattern, such as walking around, circling and sniffing the floor.
  • Don't punish your dog for accidents in the house. It's going to happen. If you don't catch him doing it, then don't punish him for it. If you catch your dog in the act while in the house, tell him no. Pick him up and take him outside to his spot in the yard and tell him potty. Praise him when he goes in the right spot. Never hit your dog: a stern no, is enough to stop him when needed. If you find a place in the house where he had an accident, don't bring him there and rub his nose in it or punish him. It's too late by the time you found it to correct the problem. The dog will not understand why he is being punished and you will only succeed in making him afraid of you. Just clean up the mess, use a commercial pet deodorizer to remove the smell and vow to watch him more closely.
  • Be consistent and patient. It's easiest to house train if you feed your dog set meals rather than leaving out available all day. Take your dog outside after he eats. Take food and water away from your pet at least two hours before going to bed. This will decrease the likelihood that he will wake you up during the night to go potty. Most dogs learn quickly and will be fairly dependable by the time they are 4 months old. However they still may have accidents until they are 8-12 months old. Make sure the whole family follows the rules and same commands, if everyone is saying the same thing your dog will understand. If everyone is using different commands your dog will get confused.