Housetraining your Puppy

Author: Amanda   Date Posted:8 February 2017 


Housetraining your puppy is all about consistency, patience, committment and positive reinforcement.  If you instill good habits while your pup is young it will create a dog that is housetrained, and one that you will have a great bond with.



  • Supervise, Supervise Supervise!!  Don't give your puppy the opportunity to make a mistake - this can hinder your training
  • If you cannot supervise/watch your puppy, then confining them to a crate, room or area where mistakes can at least be managed.  Use puppy training pads which are absorbent and make cleaning an area less work for yourself
  • Praise each and every time your puppy eliminates in the correct spot - a treat, cuddle or play time



Consistency is key when it comes to housetraining your puppy.  This teaches your pup that there are times to play, eat and toilet. In general a puppy may need to urinate every 1-3 hours. Obviously every pup is different and variations occur across breeds, with small breeds having smaller bladders.  Jot down in a diary  when your puppy is toileting and this will help you predict times to take him to the potty area.



  • Take your puppy outside frequently to toilet
  • Pick a bathroom spot and encourage your puppy to go with a phrase such as 'go toilet'
  • Stay with your puppy to teach them and reward them - they need direction to develop the correct behaviour
  • Reward your puppy each and everytime immediately after toileting in the correct spot.  Praise must be immediate and it is the way they will know they have done the correct behaviour
  • Set a regular feeding schedule - this will make it easier to predict the times your pup needs to eliminate and will help with consistency in this process
  • Pick up your puppy's water dish at bed time - this will reduce the chance that they need to eliminate during the night.  Most puppies can sleep for seven hours before needing to toilet
  • If your puppy does wake during the night, take them to their toilet spot.
  • Do not punish your puppy if you find an accident that has occurred.  Dogs do not understand that you are mad at them for a undesirable behaviour that happened 5mins ago or 2 hours ago.  Learn from the mistake and ask yourself why it occurred.
  • Never rub your puppy's nose in their mess - this is unneccessary and won't help your traning, in fact it may delay the process.

It cannot be overemphasised that the single most important aspect of housetraining is that the owner praises the dog on each and every instances that it does the right thing in the right place at the right time.  If the owner does not praise the dog for eliminating in appropriate areas but simply punishes the dog’s ‘mistakes’, the dog learns that it is unwise to eliminate when the owner is present.  Instead, the dog will reserve its eliminations for when the owner is absent. 



 From the outset you want to stay on top of your puppy’s bathroom habits.


  • Upon waking in the morning
  • After meals
  • After play time or training
  • Before bed time
  • Afer a nap

One of the best predictors of when a pup will urinate is the length of time that has elapsed since it last did so.

*Remember these physical limitations of your puppy and don’t expect them to hold on for any extended period of time. *



Most dogs give plenty of warning that they are about to eliminate by displaying a number of intention behaviours signalling that elimination is imminent.

Look for the ‘ I need to go signs’

  • Sniffing
  • Circling
  • Whining

Compared with male dogs, females generally show less investigation and orientation behaviour before urinating.  Once they have made up their mind to go, they very quickly squat and do it. Similarly male puppies give little warning before urinating in the standing position.  If a male pup is standing still and looks like its thinking, it is probably urinating.


As previously mentioned it is imperative that you closely supervise your puppy at all times when you are at home. 

If your puppy has an accident in the house, it is your accident, not the puppy’s.  To reduce the possibility of accidents, the use of a crate is strongly recommended. Confining the puppy to a crate for short periods reduces the likelihood that there will be anything to clean up.  Dogs do not like to soil their resting/sleeping quarters, and if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere, they will do so.  Temporarily confining a dog to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to defecate and markedly reduces the likelihood that it will urinate.  However, there is a far more important aspect of crate training. If the dog does not eliminate while it is confined it is highly likely to eliminate soon after it is released, ie., the dog will eliminate  when the owner is present to help direct  proceedings and praise the dog. Thus allowing you to be there to teach the pup the correct spot to eliminate and reward the pup for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time.  Crating a puppy allows you a break from overseeing what your puppy is doing. At the same time, it ensures that your pup is safe.

We recognise that not everyone can come to terms with the use of a crate.  We also know how disastrous it can be to give a puppy free rein in the household. 

  • Use a baby gate to restrict the access to areas you do not want your puppy to toilet
  • Keep your puppy confined to a fairly small playroom for example in the kitchen, bathroom or a playpen.  Include a comfortable bed, a bowl of water, plenty of chew toys and a doggy toilet (Puppy Pads such as YD Urine Neutralising Pads or Simple Solution Training Pads) in the farthest corner from its bed.
  • The purpose of this area is to prevent mistakes around the house.  Remember any housesoiling mistake is a potential disaster because it predicts more to come. 
  • This area will still allow your pup to maintain a natural cleanliness because she can sleep and eat away from areas where she has soiled. Leave training pads down when you are gone, but pick them up once you are home.

The major purpose of a confinement when you are not at home is to restrict mistakes to a small area that can be easily cleaned.

** Remember once you pup masters household manners it may enjoy more and more freedom around the house.  But remember to do this gradually.



In the event that your puppy has an accident in the house and you are not present, there is nothing that you can do.  Forget about it and chalk it up as your mistake, not the puppy’s.

If you witness an accident, quickly pick up the pup and take him outside.  If he continues on with his business once you are out, praise him.  If he does not, you can coax him with your trigger word.

Be sure to go back inside and clean the area that the puppy has eliminated on with a cleaner that actually breaks down enzymes.  Many cleaners mask the smell from us but not from the powerful olfactory senses of our dog.

Some examples of good enzymatic cleaners are: Urine Off for Dogs & Puppies, Simple Solution Power Aerosol Sprays, POQ 

Simple Solution Trigger Sprays, or Simple Solution Carpet Powder

Do not use ammonia based cleaners

The use of Puppy Training Aid, or Simple Solution Pee Post may also help to encourage your puppy to eliminate in the appropriate area.


It is worthwhile considering why the dog eliminates in the wrong place.  The main reason is that at the time the dog needs to eliminate, the owner is elsewhere and does not provide the necessary tuition to ensure that the dog is in an appropriate area.  Dogs often soil the house at night when the owner is asleep and during the day when the owner is at work.  However, may dogs soil the house when the owner is physically present, but mentally absent.  Many owners feel that although they are at home, they cannot watch the dog twenty-four hours a day.  The knack of housetraining centers on the owner’s ability to predict when the dog needs to eliminate so that he/she can ensure that it is in an appropriate location.



Because punishment can be both mentally and physically harmful to your young puppy, it should not be used during housetraining.

Do not yell, spank or rub your dog’s nose in a mess.  None of this behaviour is appropriate or humane.  Punishment of a pup after the fact is a disaster and only be confusing, as the pup will not associate the punishment with what it has done.  The pup will associate the punishment with the action it was immediately doing prior to the punishment, not to a mistake it made minutes or even hours ago. 

Punishment will only cause the pup to avoid eliminating in front of you and that will make housebreaking extremely difficult. 

Think about why the mistake occurred.  When was the puppy last taken out? Who was watching the pup?  Did you feed the pup and forget to take it out? Whatever the cause try and ascertain what it was and do something about it for the future.

Puppies do not instinctively know where the correct toilet spot is – it is our job to teach them this

In order for punishment to be effective it must follow the ‘crime’ immediately (within one or two seconds at the most). The dog must be caught in the act of misbehaving. Even if you are lucky enough to catch the dog when it is about to misbehave, punishment alone is not sufficient.  The major elements of any training program should be to teach the dog what is expected and to reward appropriate behaviour.  If the ‘housetraining’ program is restricted to the practice of punishing the dog when it ‘gets things wrong’, training will take longer, and additional problems are likely to develop along the way.

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