How to housebreak a puppy

Simple and easy housebreaking techniques to teach your new puppy. Animal shelter manager shares proven humane methods that work.


Bringing your new puppy home is a joyful experience, a happy time for the family as well as for the little furry tyke.

The fun begins to take on negative reactions, however, when little "Frisky" begins to leave "presents" on the carpet!
Don't despair!

Follow these simple techniques consistently, and little "Frisky" will reward you with good behavior.

Immediately provide a crate or cage for his temporary "living quarters". This should not be too confining, and, yet, not spacious. You can create an inexpensive one with lattice panels or lightweight panels,from the hardware store. Be sure to have the pen in the room that the family visits most often. Give him plenty of attention while he stays in his pen, so that he knows this is his "room", taking him out to play with, but depositing him back into his "room", when the play is over.(They also love to have "visitors" inside their pen, if it's large enough to accomodate).

NEVER leave him alone outside his pen!

Line the whole floor of the pen with thick newspapers. Cover 1/2 the floor with a comfortable blanket. If you can also drape another covering over this section, it will feel like a "cove" for the puppy, which he likes.
Put a couple of chew toys on the blanket side. Just off from the blanket, place a fresh bowl of water that is accessible to him at all times.
The other half of the area is his "potty" place.

When "Frisky" does his elimination work, clear away the papers, and add new ones, but leave just a trace of the "job" on the papers. The next time "Frisky" has to "go", he will follow his nose to that same spot.
Don't get upset if he makes mistakes at first. Remember, he's just a baby, and he doesn't know what you want of him, yet.

Once he gets the idea of going to his special spot, you can let him out more often, but keep him in ONE room, with the "used" newspaper on the floor in plain view for his needs. If he makes a "mistake", scold him with a stern voice,holding him over the spot, but DO NOT SPANK HIM OR RUB HIS NOSE IN THE SPOT! The stern voice is enough to make him sorry. Immediately, as you are speaking sternly, put him on the newspaper,allow your voice to become more gentle,  and then, return him to his pen.

As he develops into an older puppy, you can give him more time out of the pen, and into more areas of the house, but always have his "toilet paper" available.

At about 2-3 months, begin allowing him outside visits, starting with a small area at first. Try to always use the same door in going outside. If you are lucky, he will go to that door when he is older, and try to tell you when he wants "out".
Leave traces of his eliminations, preferably in one area. Next time, he will go back to that area. (Sometimes it helps to place his used newspaper outside in the area you want him to go).

Very young puppies are like human babies. They have no idea when the elimination urge comes up, and it's done before they know it happened. So, don't be harsh with them for answering nature's call.

A 6-8 week old puppy does not want to get his bedding soiled and will look for a place as far away from that as he can find. But he will still have the urge several times a day.

A puppy (as well as a grown dog) will feel the need to eliminate immediately upon waking, and after meals.

A 2-3 month puppy is learning how to control the process better, and can wait for a good time to "go".

When you see that your puppy has adjusted to the training idea, you can take down the pen (although this is good for when he must be left alone).

At 3-4 months, he should be pretty close to knowing what you are expecting of him. About four outside visits should be comfortable.

By the time your puppy is 5-6 months old, the "bathroom" habit should be well under control, and he will be very proud of himself for pleasing you!