House Training a Puppy

by DFS-Pet-Blog on April 29, 2011

Puppy **Guest post from Ellen B.**

House training is one of the biggest challenges of owning a puppy. Accidents WILL happen, but with patience, diligence, and a calm, authoritative manner, you can relatively quickly teach your puppy where she should (and should not!) eliminate. has the best source I found for how to house train a puppy. This article describes different methods and many tips for house training a puppy. I used both crate training and constant supervision methods. When my puppy, Izzy, was not in her crate, she was watched constantly. Here are the most important tips I can offer from my personal experience with house training a puppy.

My Best Tips For House Training a Puppy

  • If you don’t catch your dog in the act, clean it up, and forget it! Honestly, a puppy will have no idea why you are upset after the act is over. She will think whatever she was doing in the very moment you started yelling or punishing is that the behavior is bad.
  • Put a name to the act. Call it “go potty” or “do your business,” whatever works for you. As they are going, say “good girl go potty” to teach them a command that both you and the puppy will understand.
  • When you catch your puppy in the act of eliminating in an inappropriate place, interrupt! Loudly yell BAH or clap your hands, and immediately take the puppy outside. I always follow up a loud BAH with “potty outside!” and take Izzy outside.
  • PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE your puppy for the good acts! When I tell my puppy “you are so smart, what a good puppy!” she proudly wags her tail in excitement. Praise goes a long way in motivating a puppy. Pleasing their human is very rewarding for a puppy. You may choose to reward with dog treats in addition to the lavish praising.
  • Feed and water your puppy on a schedule so the puppy relieves herself at predictable intervals. Generally, 15 minutes after your puppy eats (or plays vigorously), she will need to relieve herself. This interval gets longer as your puppy gets older.

Must-Haves for House Training a Puppy

    Gates make life easier for puppy owners!

    Gates make life easier for puppy owners!

  • Gate
  • Dog gates let you create off-limits areas in your home that keep your puppy contained, which makes house training easier for you. Purchase one that will be flexible as you are able to give your puppy access to more room in your house. Our puppy only got a small area of our house when we first got her, but now she can go everywhere except the basement (which is gated off).

  • Rags/Paper Towels
  • Have plenty ready to grab quickly!

  • Odor-eliminating cleaning supplies.
  • I used Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Cleanup Spray and would recommend it.

    Growing out of her cozy travel crate!

    Growing out of her cozy travel crate!

  • Dog Crate
  • I had a travel crate that I started my puppy in. It was the perfect size….at first. She quickly grew out of it and is now in a Gorilla Tough® Basic Square Back Cage. One nice feature of this crate/cage is that there are divider panels available so you can make it bigger as your puppy grows. I can’t imagine having a puppy without a crate. Not only for house training, but also for sleeping, when she’s home alone or when I simply cannot give my full attention to watching her. Be sure to read Crate Training Your Puppy for some great tips.

    Not joking about the plastic!

    Not joking about the plastic!

  • Plastic
  • We made this process as easy as possible for ourselves. We have a large rug and we covered it in a wide sheet of plastic. Didn’t look very attractive, but it was only 1 month and made clean-ups so easy!
    This reminds me, small rugs are chew magnets. Of course, I teach the “no chew” command when I catch her, but sometimes it’s a tad bit too late. I look at it as a good excuse to replace the old rugs after Izzy has mastered the inappropriate chewing. You might want to get some old, washable rugs.

    Potty training is hard work.

    Potty training is hard work.

  • Piddle Pads® 
    If you choose to use the piddle pad method of house training, have plenty of piddle pads! Although I did not use this training method, I did buy one package to have on-hand for when getting outside in time just was not going to happen. My family and I will go to any extent to avoid a nasty clean up! Plus, I keep them handy in the car since puppies are prone to vomiting in the car.

  • Dog Treats
  • I used Healthy Snax Sweet Potato Fries dog treats because I could easily twist or cut them into very small pieces, and they’re healthy.

See All Posts in Ellen’s “New Puppy” Series:

  • Our Decision Process – Pet ownership is a long term commitment, so a new pet decision should be thoughtfully made. May this story help you think through your decision.
  • The 1st Few Days – What to expect when you first bring a new puppy home, and a few tips to help start your puppy’s life out on the right paw.
  • Housetraining a Puppy – Housetraining is one of the biggest challenges of owning a puppy. These tips and “must-haves” for housetraining a puppy will help ease the process.
  • Puppy Chewing – Why Puppies Chew & How to Stop Puppy Chewing
  • Puppy Training Classes – The foundation for a well-behaved puppy starts with a well-trained owner!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

online pet April 29, 2011 at 6:45 am

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next! Thanks for join with us.

Rosemary April 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

My next door neighbor has a young puppy, and she is always complaining that he is peeing and pooping all over the house, but she won’t take the time to house train him. She won’t use a crate, or keep him confined to one area, because she “can’t take the whining and crying”. She also doesn’t have him on a feeding schedule, but feeds him whenever she thinks about it (with lots of table scraps). I keep telling her we will never quit using the house if she doesn’t teach him otherwise, but she ignores me.

Rosemary April 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

This comment is not about house training, although the dog is question is house broken. It’s to let everyone who’s seen my other posts about Ilka’s first Obedience/Rally trial today, and offered their support. Ilka had an NQ in obedience, but earned her first RN leg with a score of 76 points out of 100. She came in second in a class of two, and was the only mixed breed there. I am delighted to have survived.

melissa May 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

Congrats Rosemary and Ilka!!!! What a great job in her 1st trial. That is outstanding! To have survived is a feat in itself, but to have done so well is just icing on the cake. GREAT JOB! I look forward to hearing more about Ilka and hope she continues to do well!! After a lengthy (unplanned) break from Agility, Mocca & I hope to start up soon again! Hoping for a trial at the end of May.

Rob May 4, 2011 at 4:19 am

With five cats and a dog, it is no secret my wife and I are huge animal lovers. Our dog Lucy took almost 9 months to potty train, but through hard work it finally happened. Great blog. Keep up the good work.

Shiba Dogs May 16, 2011 at 5:56 am

Excellent best tips for puppy training, especially the first one. I recently had an argument with a colleague concerning this very subject, so am about to email him a link to this site. I think this along with the importance of using praise instead of punishment is essential when training a puppy.

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