Puppy Housebreaking Do’s and Don’ts

June 19, 2014

housebreaking krizBy Langley Cornwell

When a new puppy comes home with you it’s all smiles, kisses and puppy breath. But once that little bundle of fur eliminates in your house, it’s easy to get upset. Many people, especially first-time puppy owners, stress over the housebreaking process.  Luckily, you have Mother Nature and mother dog on your side. If you understand a few basics and remain consistent, house training your new puppy should be an easy task.

Do: Create a Den

Dogs love small spaces; they are natural den animals. Before you bring your puppy home, use a crate, a baby gate or a corral pen to create a den for him. This will be his safe place, and as the pup gets older he will likely go to the space as a way to self-sooth when he feels stress or discomfort. Introduce him to the area in a positive manner. Once the puppy fully grasps that this area is his den, he will naturally endeavor to keep his den clean.

A puppy learns to keep his den clean at an early age. Sure, when puppies are newborns they soil indiscriminately but the mother dog always cleans her pups so there is never a trace of elimination in their special space. They also observe their mother, and since she never eliminates in the den, the puppies learn the concept of keeping the den clean by imitating mom.


• Shut the door on a new pup. He should be able to see you from his safe area.
• Lean over the gate or into the crate and sweet talk the pup. Doing so will create anxiety by encouraging the dog to try and get out so he can be with you.
• Leave the new dog in his den for extended periods of time with no breaks.

housebreaking martinDo: Establish a Routine

All puppies have small bladders and a natural elimination schedule; they urinate frequently and predictably. A typical schedule for a young dog to urinate is upon waking, after eating, after playing and anytime he gets excited. Furthermore, timing after eating is important. A young pup’s digestive process is quick and efficient, so plan to take your little guy outside for a short walk between five and 30 minutes after he eats. Make sure there is a safe, familiar place for him to relieve himself and be consistent with the location so the scent from the last time will be a trigger.

Stick with a consistent eating and going-out schedule. When your puppy goes at the right time in the right place, reward the good behavior. Calmly praise him and offer a small treat, like a CANIDAE  Pure Heaven biscuit.


• Be inconsistent. It’s important to feed and walk your puppy at the same time every day. Additionally, you should take your puppy to the same spot at the same time every day to encourage elimination.
• Expect your puppy to hold it for more than three to four hours during the day and six hours at night. Plan your schedule around being able to give your young pup a break every three hours during the day.

Do: Stay Calm

Dogs pick up on your energy, and this is the time you are establishing a lifetime bond with your new family member. Therefore, it is counter-productive for you feel nervous or impatient about housebreaking your puppy. House training doesn’t have to be a drama-filled time in your life or your dog’s life. Relax and understand that both you and your pup are getting acquainted and learning how to communicate with one another and live in the same household. Mistakes will happen. It’s not the end of the world. Respond appropriately.

housebreaking barrieDon’t:

• Lose your patience.
• Rush a puppy to relieve himself.
• Raise your voice.
• Scold your puppy for an accident.
• Create a negative association with his bodily functions.

With love and patience, this new addition to your family will learn what you expect of him and act accordingly.

Do you have any helpful or humorous stories to share about house training a new puppy?

Top photo by Jonathan Kriz
Middle photo by Cortney Martin
Bottom photo by Mitch Barrie

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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