House Training Your Puppy

Here are some tips and tricks for house training your new puppy!

There are many options about housebreaking puppies so I am going to just talk about my favorite.

Housebreaking your puppy
Bad Human

First, things NOT to do:

NEVER spank your puppy when he/she pottys in the wrong place! DO spank yourself though. It was your fault you did not have him in the right place at the right time!

NEVER shove your puppy’s nose in it’s poop or pee – that is just plain stupid. That’s sad.

OK. Now for my advice on how to get the job done easily & painlessly:

I keep my puppy in a small place like my bathroom or utility / laundry room with a baby gate in the doorway. This way my puppy can see me while I am working in my kitchen. In one corner I have a kennel with the door removed or a doggie bed. Food & water are also in that part of the room. The rest of the room (small room remember) I have covered with potty pads. I use the XL pads made for people beds bc they are so much larger & heavier. Your puppy may be very sad if he/she can’t see you. The puppy pens are great to use in the main room that you will be spending your time. That way, your puppy can at least see that you are in the same room and be happy.


If you dampen the floor underneath the potty pad with a wet cloth, the pads stick better to the floor. They rarely get chewed up and bunched up and used as a toy. It helps to dab a bit of the puppy’s pee on it to scent it with it. That is a signal to the pup (this is the place to go). Then when the pup suddenly has to potty, the floor is covered with pads, they cannot make a mistake. Good pup! Good human! 

Housebreaking your puppyHouse training your puppy

In a day or two, you will see that your puppy is only using 1 or 2 of these pads (probably the ones farthest away from his food & bed area. Take the 1 pad that is always clean away. Few days later, take another away. Goal = 1 pad.

Now, when little pup gets the urge, he has to pause, look around for that available puppy pad, go over there & use it. Good puppy! Good human!

During this time while your puppy is learning his puppy pads, we can also simultaneously teach him to go outdoors. After every meal and as soon as puppy wakes from his nap, he is going to want to go potty. Use this to teach outdoors as much as you can! Take him out on a leash at these times when you are home. Take him to the same spot, stand there and act very boring so he doesn’t think it’s playtime. 

Housebreaking your puppy

This is NOT playtime. Say “go potty” or whatever verbal cue that you want to use. If he walks around, smells the pee or poo scent there, he will get the idea rather quickly – IF you don’t play with him. After he potties it’s time to cheer for him & play!! GOOD DOGGIE!! GOOD HUMAN!! At first it may take a little while, be patient. You & he will get better at this with practice.  House training your puppy

NEVER give your puppy run of the house until that privilege is earned! It is great if you want to play with him for a bit or cuddle with him while you are watching TV but never allow him to roam unwatched until he is completely trained. VERY good for you to join him in his room/pen and play or cuddle with him there! After he is doing very well in his room on 1 pad, he can graduate to the kitchen / larger room with no throw rugs or carpet. (A throw rug or carpet looks and feels just like a potty pad to the little fellow). If puppy pottys on the floor/rug – be sure to clean REALLY good to remove the scent (after you spank yourself).

House training your puppy

I move the baby gate to the kitchen doorway now which gives him a larger room but temporarily give him a couple more potty pads, then back to 1 in a few days.

Night time: I sometimes keep my puppy in his bathroom / utility room / kitchen room for night time but usually he is very sad and alone there. After all, they naturally are pack animals & want to be with their human pack. I bring the kennel (with the door on it) and place it right next to the head of my bed where I can reach it. I place my hand where I can put my fingers inside his cage & he can smell me. We fall asleep that way. He cannot hold his pee all night (and neither can I), so I expect when he wakes up during the night to have to either take him outside to pee, or use his little bathroom / utility room where he can use his potty pad. I train to both in & out doors for my convenience also. Sometimes my pup & I do not want to go outside in the middle of the night in our jammies if it’s raining or snowing! 🙂

House training your puppy

If you are OK with your puppy in your bed, that is certainly fine. Just be sure to wake up when your pup starts fuddling around or he may potty in the wrong spot & you’ll have to spank yourself!

Remember, whenever you take your pup to a new house – it may take a day or two for him to learn where the new potty places are.

House training your puppy

This whole housebreaking thing can be quite easy when you get a pup from me because I have already allowed the basics to happen. Just please be vigilant and try as hard as you can to prevent “mistakes”. Whenever your pup goes in the wrong place – it will set you back a little. Again, spank yourself and try harder next time. Some folks have little bells on the door so pup can learn to knock them with his paw to signal you that its time to go out. Some folks use litter boxes. Whatever your preference, be consistent & it’ll get done. Then you will have the next 15 years with clean floors! Hooray!!!

House training your puppy

Another option is Litterbox training similar (but not exactly the same) as you would use with cats.  Take a look at what my friend/fellow breeder Sabine uses with her puppies on her website. She has a very good page there even including video. I use corn cob bedding which is available at most farm stores. It may be helpful to get a bag of that first, then gradually mix to change to the safe pine scented cat litter that she suggests.  LitterBox Training.

House training your puppy

Cesar Millan has some good advice on his web site here: House Training your puppy. He also some good advice on Crate Training your puppy. I just LOVE Patricia McConnel PhD’s books and can’t brag enough on them. She really knows dogs and is VERY good about teaching people in a fun way! Here is a link to her small but EXCELLENT book on house training “Way To Go”  

Way To Go by Patricia McConnell. Book on House Training Puppies
“Way To Go” by Patricia McConnell. Book on House Training Puppies