How To Housebreak a Puppy: Tips from Puppy Training Experts

Learning how to housebreak a puppy is a huge part of the job of raising your puppy and requires a lot of patience and consistency. 

Some dogs can learn quickly, but other puppies could take months to potty train. So, you’ll probably have a trial-and-error period in which you have to try different things to determine what works for you, your puppy and your family.

While some accidents are inevitable, we went to the experts to round up their best tips for housebreaking, or potty training, and training your puppy.

 

Housebreaking Your Puppy

  • "Take your puppy outside about 15 minutes after every meal. At this point, they should be “ready to go” – plus, it’s just a really great habit for them to get into!"

(Shawn Hostetter, President, Keystone Puppies)

 

  • Take your dog outside to potty at the same place each time.  Your dog will learn to potty train much quicker. 

(Sara Ochoa, DVM; Veterinary Consultant for doglab.com)

 

Housebreaking a Puppy With a Crate

  • "Do start leaving the puppy by itself in the crate right away. Even if it's only for 10 or fifteen minutes, puppies need to learn that their family will always come back."

(Hope Saidel, professional dog trainer, AKC Star Puppy program instructor, president of North Shore Dog Training Club, co-founder of  2-Minute-Trainer.com)

 

  • "When puppies are crate-trained, they’ll avoid soiling inside it, leading to an easier time to teach them to go to the bathroom somewhere else."

(Ronnie Lawson-Jones, Jug Dog Training UK)

 

  • "To get puppies to love their crates, they should be ‘where the action is’ in the house-- they should eat in their crates, and the crate should be available (open) for naps. A very special treat, like a frozen Kong stuffed with a mixture of yogurt and treats, should be given in the crate when the family leaves the house.” 

(Hope Saidel, professional dog trainer, AKC Star Puppy program instructor, president of North Shore Dog Training Club, co-founder of 2-Minute-Trainer.com)

 

Teaching Your Puppy Commands

  • "You have to start this as early as possible. It can begin in the home, and all you need are loads of treats and to tell them to ‘come’ whenever they are away from you. They will learn to associate the command with the reward and will pick it up quickly. Once you get outside walking, this is one of the most valuable commands to have."

(Jeff Carbridge, Dog Trainer/Expert at DogOwner.co.uk)

 

  • "Use small words.  When you want your puppy not to do something, use one word such as "No" or "Come" or "Stay." These small words are easier for your dog to remember.:

(Sara Ochoa, DVM; Veterinary Consultant for doglab.com)

 

  • "It's far better to train your puppy regularly in short bursts, such as on a daily basis, vs trying to cram in everything in over a few hours."

(Cindy Kelly, Owner, Regis Regal German Shepherds)

 

  • "To begin teaching a sit behavior, get on your dog’s level, hold a treat close to his or her nose and slowly make an arch shape with your hand. As his head follows the treat, his or her butt will lower to the ground. As soon as his or her butt hits the ground, reward your pup with the treat." 

(Nicole Ellis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover.com)

 

  • "On some occasions, your dog might just not ‘get it,’ or you might feel very impatient, so just skip this session and play a good ol' catch instead!"

 (Lazhar Ichir, Founder, Breeding Business) 

 

  • "A lot of people stop giving their puppy and dog treats once they have fully learned a command. Then, they wonder why their dog has started listening a little less (or not at all). Dogs love rewards. You don’t have to give a treat every time when they are fully trained, but maybe every other time or every two times so that they know there is still something in it for them."

(Jeff Carbridge, Dog Trainer/Expert at DogOwner.co.uk)

 

  • "Train at any public location you can think of - from parks over outdoor malls to the city center - as often as possible (once your puppy has received all his shots). Many dogs don’t focus in public because they are rarely trained in busy places."

(Steffi Trott, Owner & Head Trainer, SpiritDog Training)

 

  • "All super-engineered tricks you see on Instagram have started with a very basic command and reward upon execution. Training a dog takes time. Trying to go too quickly will get your dog overwhelmed and you frustrated.” 

(Lazhar Ichir, Founder, Breeding Business)

 

What NOT to Do When House Training Your Puppy

  • "You see a lot of advice about sticking a dog’s nose in their mess, yelling at them, or even giving their backsides a smack. None of this will help with house training, and it might actually make things worse because of the negative attention. Take them outside regularly; reward them with treats and ALL the praise when they go outside. When it happens inside, ignore it completely and act like nothing happened."

(Jeff Carbridge, Dog Trainer/Expert at DogOwner.co.uk)

 

  • "The worst thing a trainer can do is get frustrated or aggravated at their dog. If you instead make it fun and engaging, your dog will love to get trained, look forward to it, be more dependable, and feel more at home."

(Sarah Rodgers, Brookside Pomskies)
 

 

The puppy stage is full of excitement and rewards, both for the puppy and for the owner! At the same time, there will certainly be periods of frustration through the housebreaking process. As many of our puppy training experts pointed out, make sure not to put too much pressure on yourself or your puppy to be perfect. It’s a learning process for both of you, and that means there might be some bumps and stumbles along the way!

With these tips, you should have the knowledge you need to start your relationship with your puppy on the right foot!


To learn about more ways to prepare for your puppy, read our comprehensive post titled; How to Prepare for a Puppy: Puppy Preparation Check List

 

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