Resources for Puppy Parents


How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With
By Clarice Rutherford, David H. Neil

House Training Your Puppy

The basic premise of housebreaking a puppy is to know that dogs prefer not to soil the area they consider their den.  The object is to teach your puppy that the whole house is his den, and should not be soiled. This goal must be accomplished one step at a time. 

A puppy is very small and to him the house looks large.  The dining room may impress him as being distant turf, and therefore fair game.  Initially restricting the puppy to a small space helps him learn to keep his small area clean. By slowly increasing his space the puppy begins to consider larger and larger areas his “den.” Confining the puppy to a small area when you are not watching him also helps prevent accidents from happening.  The more effort you exert at the very beginning of the house training venture, the quicker he will learn. 

I keep my puppies confined to a small pen when we cannot be with them. As they grow I make the pen even smaller and remove the papers.  When the puppies go to sleep at night or when we are out of the house they are put in a crate.  Rarely will a puppy soil his crate.

Watch the clock and possible use an oven timer to help keep track of the puppy's schedule.  The moment the puppy wakes up, take him outside. Find a command you like and use that command consistently. We say “go potty.” As soon as he/she  relieves himself say “Good boy” and go right back into the house.  Remember, this is a training session, not a play period.  You're on a mission. 

Now the puppy can be allowed to play freely for a few minutes.  Start with ten minutes and increase the time until you learn how frequently the puppy needs to urinate.  After ten or fifteen minutes, take the puppy outside again, and repeat the process.  At first you will need to go in and out rather frequently, but once you learn his bladder tolerance, you’ll be able to stretch the time that he may be free inside.  Soon the puppy will realize he's going outside to go to the bathroom and the more diligent you are with this process in the beginning the sooner he'll catch on.

You can assume that a puppy will need to defecate minutes after he has eaten.  As soon as the meal is over, take him outside.  No playing- again, we're on a mission.  As soon as the puppy has relieved himself, praise him and go back inside.  In ten to fifteen minutes take him out again to wet. 

Outside play periods are different from "being on a mission."  During play time you stay out as long as you want. When it's time to go in, if the puppy hasn't wet for awhile, either put him in his crate or in a very small pen. Then in a little while take him out to potty.  Again say "go potty" and then lots of praise.

At night, take him out for the last time as late as you possibly can.  Puppies usually need to defecate late in the evening - I put them out around 11:00 and get up as early as you possibly can to start out. Run the puppy right out the door and go through the bathroom routine and then come right back in.  If you are consistent the puppy will learn what the pattern is, and will wait for you to come and let him out.  Although baby puppies sometimes think that 5:30 A.M. is a fine time to be up and having fun, do not despair.  Once he understands the pattern, you'll be able to stretch the time to suit yourself.