Housetraining Your Puppy

Housetraining is a major consideration for most dog owners. A dog that is not housetrained can be very destructive and may well end up at the local animal shelter.... in that sense, not being housetrained can be a fatal problem!

The 3 basic elements of successful housetraining are:

Unfortunately, few people recognize the importance of these 3 elements and many people cannot or will not alter their lifestyles sufficiently to ensure success in housebreaking. If you can't do these few things..... then PLEASE do not get a dog!


There are certain times when a puppy must eliminate and it is imperative that someone be available at each of those times. Puppies must go outdoors;

    1. AFTER  SLEEP: Puppies wake up, go away from the sleeping area and squat.
    2. AFTER   PLAY: Active play can trigger the need to eliminate. Puppies may also stop in the middle of play to eliminate.
    3. AFTER   EATING: Puppies will need to go outside a few minutes after eating or drinking.


Location can provide another cue for your puppy to try to eliminate.

1. Territory: Dogs mark the boundaries of their territory with their urine and feces. You must remember that the boundaries that a dog recognizes may be different from yours. If the puppy uses the floor of the extra bedroon, he obviously thinks that is the edge of his territory and he's posting a "No trespassing" sign.

2. Odor: If any odor is left in the place where the puppy has had an "accident", he will use that location again and again. Clean the area with cool water first, then use a cleanser and, finally, use alcohol to help elimanate the odor.

3. Habit: Puppies tend to return to the same spot, time after time. This is NOT a habit you want to get established!


Some of the suggested equipment is very inexpensive, some could be considered a major investment, but it can help prevent damage in your house. All the following items have multiple uses, not just for housebreaking and should be part of your dog stuff anyway!

1. LEASH. If you use a very lightweight leash indoors, you can keep your pup close to you so that you will be more likely to notice if the pup is getting restless. After the puppy begins to get the idea of going outside, he will be more likely to "ask" to go out instead of taking off for an isolated part of the house.

2. CRATE. There will be many times when you are busy at home and you cannot be worry about a puppy underfoot. A dog crate is the perfect answer! Puppies do not normally eliminate where they sleep. A properly sized crate, large enough for the puppy to lie down and stand up comfortably but no larger, will encourage the pup to announce that he needs to go out. A crate also makes a very useful bed for the pup.... his very own room without a major addition onto the house! A crate is a great tool when traveling or if the dog needs confining for health reasons.

3. FENCED YARD. A nice, safe fenced-in yard, if you have a home, to take the puppy out in so that he may go.... this ought to be self-explanitory! All the apartment dwellers will be envious as they trug along on their daily walks. On the other hand, those daily walks are great cardio-vascular workouts and provide some great bonding time!

Housetraining Tips

Remember that young puppies do not have much bladder control. In fact, a puppy will not be completely reliable until about 4-6 months of age. You can help the process by  understanding his needs - establishing his feeding, watering and exercising schedule and learning to observe and interpret his behavior.

Do NOT free - feed your puppy! Feed and water your puppy according to a schedule, depending on his age and remove leftover food until the next feeding time. If you don't have time to feed the dog, you don't need to have a dog! After the puppy eats, take it outside to eliminate. After the routine is firmly established, you can leave water available at all times, but continue to feed on a schedule.

When it's time for the trip outside, put the lead on the puppy and take him to the same door each and every time, while asking him a phrase, such as "Gotta go potty?" Use the same phrase, in the same tone each time. Soon the puppy will begin to go to that door when it needs to go out and it will begin to respond to your question, too!

Select a place outdoors where you want the puppy to eliminate and always take him directly to that spot. Don't walk the puppy endlessly. Just stand there and say something again, like " Go Potty" - cheery voice, remember? When you get results, immediately praise the pup. If you want to take him for a walk for exercise, do it after a successful "potty" trip, not before or after, especially on a trip around the neighborhood - Be a good Canine Neighbor and keep the mess in your yard! Take a plastic bag with you , just in case!

Be consistant - keep the same schedule every day of the week, even if you work during the week and are off on the weekends. Dogs only know routine. It's not fair to walk the pup early in the morning during the week and then expect him to wait several hours until you feel like getting up.

Limit the puppy's area. Use the crate, a leash, close doors to isolated areas, install baby gates ..... whatever it takes for you to keep the puppy in sight until he learns the basics.

Take him outside after every feeding time, watering time, after waking up from sleep, after or during play or any time he starts sniffing and acting restless.

Go outdoors with your puppy each time, even if your yard is fenced. It's important to praise the pup for eliminating in the spot you have chosen and you can't do that if you are inside the house!

Be on time for meals, water, and walks, even if you have to enlist the help of a friend or relative.

If you change your puppy's diet, do not change it abruptly, as this may cause diarrhea. A good rule of thumb is two days at .... 75% old food brand and 25% new food, then 2 days at 50/50, then 2 days at 75 new and 25 old. Then eliminate the old brand entirely.

GRADUALLY extend the time between food, water and walks. Don't suddenly go from every 3 hours to every 6 hours. On the other hand, don't get stuck in the 3 hour mode either! Learn to watch the dog for indications that he may be ready to wait a little longer, then do it.

Avoid boarding your puppy during the critical early housebreaking stage. Even adult dogs may experience some difficulties caused by changes in feeding and walking schedules.

NEVER rub your puppy's nose in an accident! This teaches NOTHING, but creates fear in the puppy's mind of you and your temper!

Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks Edited for beagles by Ruth Darlene Stewart.