House Training

Puppies will want to pee and poop wherever they have done so before. Your job is to make sure your puppy learns to prefer the outdoors as a toilet – not your carpets!

I recommend you keep your puppy close to you or in a crate and show him where he should potty every 2 hours to start. Then gradually increase the time between trips out doors. If your puppy does have an accident, don’t react. Any punishment will be unproductive and could even encourage your puppy to eliminate more often as a submissive gesture to your reaction. You can take away your puppies water about 7 PM and replace it with a few ice cubes.

Approximate Overnight Holding Limit = 1½ times the Daytime Holding Limit
Example: 3 month puppy can hold for 1½ x 4 = 6 hours overnight

Whenever you are unable to supervise your puppy with 100% attention, you need to place her in either a short-term or long-term confinement area.
Your puppy can be placed in a short-term confinement area such as a crate if she will be there for less than her holding limit. The purpose of the crate is to keep her out of trouble while you are unable to supervise her, and to help you house train her. The crate should be just big enough for her to be able to lie down on her side with outstretched limbs, stand up, and turn around easily. It should not be so big that she thinks there is enough space for a bedroom and for a toilet area! When you let her out of her crate you can bring her straight outdoors and reward her for doing her business in the right place.

For longer confinement periods a bigger area, with non-absorbent flooring, such as a bathroom, kitchen, or utility room, is needed. The long-term confinement area should have a bed or open crate at one end, and a pile of newspaper, a puppy pad or a strip of sod at the opposite end. Your puppy will naturally want to eliminate as far as possible from her bed. If the space you use for long-term confinement happens to have a door that leads to the outdoors, then place the toilet area near that door. This way, your puppy’s toilet area is as close as possible to where she should ultimately be heading to do her business. Fresh water and stuffed chew toys should also be plentiful, and should be placed near her bed.

Your Puppy will naturally have the urge to eliminate after a nap, a meal, a drink, exercise, excitement, or time spent in confinement. Give your puppy the opportunity to do her business outdoors at these times. When your puppy does her business in the right place offer her a treat, plenty of praise, a game or a walk. This will speed up her house training habits.

Punishing a puppy for house soiling after it has happened is abuse, not training. If you wait more than a few seconds after your puppy has eliminated before expressing your disapproval, your puppy will not know why she is being punished. If you catch your puppy about to pee or poop in the wrong place you can clap your hands and say “Ah-ah”, and swiftly scoop her up to the outdoors to continue. Punishing her after the fact just makes her anxious for you to return the next time as she will assume you will be aggressive every time you come home.

If you would like your dog to poop promptly when you take her out, then teach your puppy that a prompt poop is her ticket to a walk around the block. This will encourage her to poop as soon as you let her out – and will allow you to leave the stinky poop bag at the house, rather than having to carry it around for much of the walk. If you do the opposite, take her for a walk, and ending her walk as soon as she does do her business, she will learn to delay pooping!

Also, you must be consistent! If you train your puppy to poop while on a leash M-F, then you cannot expect her to poop on Sat. in the back yard off the leash. Our puppies do not generalize information that well, so if she is having accidents, you must consider her schedule and what you have taught her.

House Training Options:
Considering the use of Puppy Pads?

  • Advantage – Portable and indoors
    • Disadvantage – Dog may view any paper lying on the floor as fair game. This process can eventually lead to training outside, but adds an extra step.

How about a Litter Box?

  • Advantage – Portable, indoors, doesn’t require going outside and dog doesn’t have to wait for someone to let her outside.
    • Disadvantage – Daily cleaning of litter box, not a good choice for medium or large dogs. 

Advantages of Crate Training

  • Keeps puppy safe when you can not watch your puppy.
    • Teaches puppy to keep his area clean.
    • Should never be used as punishment but
    • Should be used as a safe haven for your pet.
    • Begin when you first bring your puppy home. Start with just a short time and increase the time as your puppy feels comfortable.
    • Do lure your puppy in and out with treats so he enters on his own. Do not shove your puppy in and shut the door right away.
    • Keep the crate in a place where your puppy can hear you talk to him.