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Horses and Dogs
First Posted: Sept 8, 2010
Apr 14, 2011

Housebreaking Your Dog or Puppy

by Debora Johnson

There are a number of ways to house break a puppy. It is really important to have patience, be consistent, be kind and gentle, and give praise Also, try to remember that a puppy does not have full control of its bladder under three months of age. Relieving themselves is an immediate reflex. You will notice your puppy circling. He may also begin to sniff the ground or floor. Sniffing is an instinct. The puppy is searching for an already used spot. If your puppy cannot sniff out a used spot, he will make his own mark. Make sure he does this outside, not in the house.

The following will give some help in the house breaking of your puppy:

Crate Training

It may seem cruel and unusual punishment to confine your puppy to a kennel or "crate," but dogs are actually den animals. They feel safety in the confinement of their own "special" space. Puppies will often cry or whine when you first put them in the crate. Be patient. The puppy will be begin to associate his crate as a happy place. Never punish your puppy while he is in his crate. Use consistent verbal commands along with pointing to train your puppy to enter his crate. "Kennel" is often used as a command for the dog to enter his crate. For a week or two you may have to take the puppy out every hour to void. This includes night time duty. If you put your time in, the puppy will house break pretty quickly.

Void and Relieve in the Same Area

Take the puppy on a lead so you can be sure he goes to the same area of the yard each time. Give the puppy about 10 minutes to sniff. If he does not void, take him back in and put him in the crate. Wait another 15-20 minutes and repeat the same activity. Use a verbal command for potty, too. Say pee, pee or something similar. When the puppy complies give him lots of praise. After he goes to the bathroom, during these outings, then he can have some play time, out of the crate, as a reward. Until your puppy understands that outside is to "go," to the bathroom, do not let him play outside. It will confuse him. Let him play inside as a reward, but watch him so that he does not have an accident.


When your puppy complies outside give him lots of positive reinforcement. Say "Good boy," or "Good Girl," or "Good ____" (puppy's name). Give a treat. Stroke and pet the puppy. Have a favorite play toy available. Do this positive reinforcement immediately. The puppy needs to associate the behavior (pee, pee or other) with the praise. They want to please.

Keep Constant Watch on the Puppy Inside

If you let your puppy out of the crate while he is inside the house, keep a constant watch on him. Make every effort to ensure that he does not have an accident in the house.

Meals and Excitement

Avoid accidents. Take the puppy outside first thing in the morning, immediately following meals, drinking, playtime or excitement, and when you first get home from work.

Take the Puppy outside Often

As stated before, if possible in the beginning, every hour until he "gets" it.

Keep A Potty Journal

Keeping track of your puppy's potty habits will help you house break him much faster. It should also help avoid accidents. If you are lucky enough to be home, take your puppy out each hour. Animals have elimination systems that work much the same as people. That is, they have regular habits just as we do. By keeping a journal, it will aid you in determining how long it takes for your puppy to have the need to "go." Eventually the puppy with figure out that he needs to alert you by asking to go out.

Paper Training

Paper training is another way to teach a puppy to go. Some people buy potty pads and other use newspaper. Potty pads are scented to make them attractive. I prefer to teach the puppy to go outside from the start. The reason I prefer this method is that you do not have to retrain the puppy to go outside after he is trained to the paper. As the puppy grows, the paper can become a real mess. Outside is where potty needs take place in my opinion. However, others like to use paper training.


Accidents will happen. Immediately say NO in a really stern voice or make some kind of loud noise to get the puppy's attention. Take him outside as quickly as possible to his regular spot. They need to associate the bad behavior with an immediate NO! If you come upon an accident after the fact, just clean it up. Clean up with the puppy in the crate out of sight of the accident. He should not see you clean up after him. To correct the bad behavior it must be done immediately. The puppy will have no idea what you are correcting at some later time. It is also important to note that puppies are attracted to urine odors. Even after it is cleaned up the puppy can probably smell it. They will tend to go back to that same spot to go. It is important to try to get rid of the odor the best that you can. There are several commercial products that are designed to help.


There are several home made and commercially available "odor killers" that are helpful:

Odor Killer Concentrate
Tank Mix

Use 4 ounces per gallon and spray area thoroughly.

Floors and Carpets: DO NOT USE ON WOOD FLOORS. For other floor areas, mix as stated above, spraying lightly. Best results can be obtained by mixing 6 ounces Odor Killer Concentrate per gallon of hot water in a conventional steam carpet machine.

Dog Kennel: Mix 6 ounces Odor Killer Concentrate in hot soapy water and scrub dog runs. Simply rinse off with water afterwards.

AROMASK cleans pet odors.

Home Remedies

Plain white vinegar will work to help neutralize the odor and the ammonia in the urine.

Sprinkle baking soda on the spot. It will soak up any remaining moisture and help wipe out the odor. When moisture has been soaked up, vacuum up remaining baking soda.

There are many odor neutralizers on the market. Check with your pet store. They will be able to guide you further.

It should also be noted that some breeds are easier to house break than others.

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