How to House Train Your Puppy

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House training your puppy is a vital step in their development. As their bladder becomes bigger and bigger, they will be able to hold it much longer.

Throughout this process, you will need to teach your puppy to seek out the right place to pee. As you may have guessed, we don’t want the pup to pee inside the house but on a grass surface.

House training my puppy was the number one most frustrating task for me (besides crate training).

Depending on your dog’s breed and size it can take longer or shorter to get them fully house trained. It usually takes until your pup is 3-4 months old.

Rule of Thumb

Although it’s generally easier to house train smaller breeds, adult large-breed dogs are better at holding their bladder for a stretch of time.

At the age of 8-12 weeks, your puppy will be able to hold his bladder just a little bit, this is also perfect to really start focusing on potty training.

They can hold their bladder for approximately 1 hour for every month of age which also depends on dog breed and size. But keep in mind that this rule applies only for sleeping puppies.

For example, a two-month-old puppy can hold his bladder for about two hours. Although I would recommend going out more often. A three-month-old puppy can hold it for three to four hours.

An adult dog should never go longer than 8 hours before going outside because it will damage their bladder if they are forced to hold it.

You can expect your dog to be fully housebroken after a couple of months of training. There are some rare cases where dogs can take up to one year to be fully house trained.

If your puppy did not have an accident inside the house for a few weeks, then you can consider him house trained.

My Rottweiler stopped peeing inside the house when she was 3 1/2 months old. Although we had a very bad start where she only pooped and peed inside the house for the very first days.

That was due to a very cold winter, bad weather, and a misconception we had which I will talk about in a second.

To avoid rookie mistakes, check out my guide on how to get through your pup’s first night.

Supervise Potty Training

A young puppy should always be supervised, especially when it comes to housebreaking.

An easy way to supervise your puppy is to attach a leach to him and to your belt or something else. This way, he’s not going anywhere and you can catch undesired behavior like surfing the table, jumping on the furniture, etc. Make sure to pack treats!

You will also want to keep track of every potty activity. This is why I have designed a potty tracker template that you can easily download and print for free! Plus there are a few other templates included that will help you get through the first weeks.

Using a Crate

The crate is a great tool to use for potty training your puppy. It provides him with a safe and comfortable space and prevents him from having accidents. Dogs are very clean creatures and they don’t like sitting in their own soil.

Some puppies do have accidents inside the crate but it’s really rare and usually only happens if you make a mistake. If your dog has eliminated in the crate before for several reasons, using it won’t work.

When buying the crate, you should go for the adult size of your dog as most crates come with a dividing door like this one. It has to be big enough that your dog is able to stand up and turn around in it.

The dividing door will prevent your dog from eliminating in one corner and sleeping in the other. I have created a comprehensive article about crate training your puppy.

Puppy Training Pads

Training your puppy with pads will eventually set you back in the training.

But if you are experiencing a bad winter, live in an apartment on a higher floor, or cannot take out your puppy every 30 minutes, puppy pads might be an option.

It will teach your puppy to only eliminate on a certain spot in the house but it does also teach your puppy that peeing in the house is okay. You will have to housebreak him later on so he knows that only grass outside is an option.

Potty Schedule

A puppy has to go outside after every nap, meal and play time. Make sure not to free feed him and only give him access to food three times a day while always providing water.

You should set up a daily schedule for your dog to track his progress. Not only did I write down when she should go outside but also when she had an accident so I could see a pattern that I might have missed otherwise.

I have created an example of a general daily schedule (which I highly recommend getting yourself) with every potty trip listed:

A printable daily puppy schedule template.

Now the misconception that we had (and maybe this does work for other dog owners) was taking your puppy outside immediately after every meal and drink.

She was neither peeing nor pooping which was very frustrating because as soon as we got back she would do it in the house. While this rule truly applies for playtime and nap time, I would rather say that your puppy has to go outside 15 minutes after drinking and 30 minutes after peeing.

Learning the schedule of your puppy and adjusting to it will save you a lot of stress since every puppy is different. What works for mine might not work for yours.

Reward the Progress

Whenever your puppy relieves itself outside, throw a party. Take lots of treats with you and praise praise praise. Your puppy has to learn that going outside is great and doing it inside is bad.

To make it even more simple for your dog, choose a spot where your puppy should go every single time. This should be close to your house because your dog will pee quickly once he’s outside.

If accidents happen inside, make sure to eliminate any odor with an enzymatic cleaner.

A little secret of mine is teaching your dog a command for peeing and for pooping. I know it sounds weird but it works so well.

Every time your dog starts to pee or poop, say the word you chose for the activity and repeat it over and over again until he stops. Then praise him for going outside.

Another tip is to not wait for your puppy to relieve himself.

I made the mistake to stay outside for two hours, thinking I really tricked her this time and that she’d break down sooner or later. Needless to say, she didn’t.

Every time you go out, give your puppy about 10 minutes and he doesn’t go potty, then go back inside, wait a moment, and go outside again.

Avoiding Accidents

There are some very awful techniques people choose to punish their puppies for accidents like sticking their nose into their pee.

This will not lead your puppy to be house trained. It will only result in him being afraid to relieve himself in front of you. Accidents will eventually happen and that is completely normal.

If your puppy has an accident inside and you catch your dog in flagrante (=right in the middle of the process), firmly say “no” and quickly grab your dog to go outside so he makes the connection that grass is a much better spot.

Do not punish your dog for an accident you just noticed from hours ago.

Dogs have a three-second rule where they will “forget” what happened after that. Do not try to stop your puppy from the pooping process because once started – unlike peeing – he cannot stop it.

You can try to let a book or something else fall to the ground which will grab your dog’s attention but be sure not to scare him. Always react calmly and quiet and do not make a fuzz out of it.

Common Potty Training Problems

Although you can completely house train a puppy with this guide, there are many of you that experienced some problems during the process.

  • “Puppy keeps peeing in the same spot.”

This happens when you didn’t clean up the mess properly last time. It’s not enough to wipe the floor, the scent will still be there and your puppy will keep having accidents there. After every accident, clean up with an enzymatic cleaner.

  • “He doesn’t pee outside but right when we come back in.”

This happened with my own puppy. It means that you are not yet understanding the peeing schedule of your puppy. You are either going out too early or too late. If he has an accident inside, go right back outside and show him the spot where he should have peed as I explained above.

  • “I live in a high rise apartment complex, I cannot bring him out every 10-30 minutes.”

Puppy pads would be the best alternative for that. You could also take a puppy apartment into consideration. A puppy apartment consists of a crate or a box that includes a bathroom and bedroom area. Your puppy will be taught to sleep in one area and eliminate in the other. If you want to learn more about puppy apartments, I highly recommend this article.

  • “Why does my puppy eliminate in the crate?”

There can be several reasons for this. If you got your puppy from a shelter or a pet store, he probably learned to soil his own area and that became a habit.

Another reason could be that you’re leaving your puppy in the crate for too long. Don’t give him the opportunity to soil his crate and take him out very often, he might just be too young.

Make sure that you always get rid of the odor and do not let him drink a lot of water right before bed.

  • “My puppy has such an irregular schedule. He never poops at the same time.”

This is probably because you aren’t feeding him his meals at the same time or the amount of food isn’t properly adjusted. You might also constantly feed at the wrong times (too close to bedtime).

Another solution could be changing his overall diet – my Rottie pooped significantly less and more solid on a raw dog food diet.

  • “Why does my puppy always walk in another room to do his business?”

He is probably scared to pee in front of you if he has been punished in the past. You will need to work on building more trust with him and learn how to correct undesired behavior in a correct way.

You’re not alone. Potty training is a very common pain point for fresh puppy owners, right next to puppy biting.

What is your experience with potty training your puppy? Let me know in the comments.

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Danielle
In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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