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Puppy House Training Tips

Susan has worked with pets for over 25 years as an owner/operator of an in-home pet sitting business & working in the veterinary field.

Keys to puppy house training

Being consistent with your approach, routine, activities and keeping the puppy on a leash will increase the puppy’s understanding of house training.

Praise your puppy

Puppies learn with verbal praise, petting and treats

Puppies learn with verbal praise, petting and treats

Consistency of approach

Most puppies learn through repetition. Being consistent when and where you take the puppy helps her understand faster why she is outside.

Remaining calm and patient helps the puppy not feel stressed. When we are in a hurry the puppy will pick up on this and may not empty the bladder which can lead to accidents inside. Remaining calm even in inclement weather will help the puppy understand the importance of fully eliminating.

Be encouraging as the puppy is eliminating as well as when she is finished. Positive praise goes a long way. Puppies love rewards no matter if its treats, verbal praise or petting.


Consistency of routine

The puppy will learn to go to the door when he needs to go outside if you take him to the same door every time to go outside. This will help you understand when the puppy has better comprehension of house training.

Take the puppy to the same area each time. This provides smells that will prompt the puppy to eliminate. Stand in one area not allowing the puppy to walk all over the yard. This decreases distractions while allowing the puppy to smell where he previously relieved himself.

Depending on the weather only take the puppy outside to eliminate. By not allowing the puppy to investigate smells or play will help him understand going outside is for elimination purposes. Eliminating in one area of the yard and playing in a different area will help the puppy’s understanding why he is outside.

Consistency of Time

Based on the puppy’s age in months most puppies can “hold it” for 1 hour per month of age plus or minus 1. For example, an 8-week-old can go 2-3 hours between going outside. They can hold it longer at night if food and water are picked up 2-3 hours prior to bedtime.

Work the puppy’s schedule into your schedule. After you get up, take the puppy outside first. Taking the puppy outside every 2-3 hours especially when she first joins your family will help her. It is OK if you are unable to do this. If the puppy has an accident do not punish her as she will not understand why she is being punished.

Use the same area for elimination

The puppy can learn to eliminate in one area of the yard and play in a different area.

The puppy can learn to eliminate in one area of the yard and play in a different area.

Activities for success

After a night’s sleep (or a short nap) the puppy will need to go outside immediately. Carrying the puppy outside can help prevent “piddling” on the way to the door.

House training can also be influenced from when the puppy eats and drinks. Decide the best times of day for you to feed the puppy. Allow the puppy 10-15 minutes to eat and drink at each meal. It is OK to pick up uneaten food and the water bowl. Offer the puppy water between meals. Just remember the puppy will need to go outside after he drinks water.

Playing with the puppy builds a special bond. Sometimes the puppy gets so involved in play he “forgets” to go to the door to let you know he needs to go outside. After 10–15 minutes of play take a break, go outside then return to play.

Benefits of using a leash

Taking the puppy outside on a leash helps the puppy focus, learn why she is outside, and keeps the puppy safe. Stand in one place holding the leash.

Don’t talk to the puppy until the puppy begins to eliminate. If desired, you can put this on command such as “potty” to mean bowel movement. To do this repeat “Potty, good potty, potty, potty, good potty” while the puppy is eliminating. Once the puppy is done encourage her to come to you for a reward (treat, verbal praise and petting). You can teach the puppy a different word to mean urinate by repeating the above phrase using the words you want.

For safety, keep the puppy on leash with you holding the leash. This allows you to monitor what the puppy is investigating so she does not eat something she should not eat. This allows you to remain within reach, so the puppy does not roll in something that smells awful. This allows you to be close to the puppy to prevent predators from trying to get the puppy. This allows you to prevent the puppy from following a scent wandering away from you.

Being consistent with your approach, routine, activities and keeping the puppy on a leash will increase the puppy’s understanding of house training.

Keep your puppy on a leash

There are many benefits to keeping the puppy on a leash.

There are many benefits to keeping the puppy on a leash.

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