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How to house train a puppy the right way


The easiest way to go about house training your new puppy is by utilizing a crate. Dogs are and always have been den and pack animals, they naturally and instinctively prefer the shelter of a den. A crate provides your puppy with a “den” like safe place to call his own. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their “den” or sleeping quarters clean. Therefore most dogs will not urinate or defecate in their crate, which is why it is such an invaluable tool for housebreaking.

The first thing to understand, though, is the need for repetition and consistency. Your puppy will not understand what you want unless you repeatedly show him/her the desired behavior many times over and do so consistently.

Begin by purchasing the appropriate size crate. Think den not condo! It should be small with just enough room for your puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. It is not an exercise pen. The use of too large a crate will encourage your puppy to use a small portion of it for a bed and the rest of it as a place to potty. Buy a crate that will accommodate your puppy when he/she is fully grown but also has an adjustable divider panel that will enable you to close off a portion of the crate and then expand it as the puppy grows. 


The Training Process


Use a bed pad or an old towel or blanket for bedding and include a few “safe” toys. Leave the crate door open and allow your puppy to come and go as he pleases. Keep his favorite treats handy that you only use for the crate. Every time you put your puppy in the crate toss in a couple of treats and give the “Crate” command. It gives the puppy a nice reason to go in and creates a positive experience. 

At night, just before bedtime take your puppy out to potty. When he eliminates give him lots of praise, tell them “Good Potty” (or whatever phrase you decide to use) and a treat. Put your puppy in his crate and shut the door. For the first 3 nights set your alarm for 3 hours. When your alarm goes off get your puppy and CARRY him out to potty. Set him down and wait. When he goes potty, praise him and put him back in his crate. Set your alarm for 3 more hours and repeat.

After three days, if it has been successful and there have been no accidents, move to 4-hour intervals.


After three more nights, you have hopefully taught your puppy that you will be there to take him outside when he has to go. If there have been no accidents you can then start going to bed and waiting until your puppy wakes you up to potty. It is important to respond and take him out immediately if he wakes during the night.

In the morning, as soon as you wake up, immediately take your puppy out. Allow him time to do his business and when he does tell him “Good Potty”, give a treat and lots of praise. Bring him back in the house and allow him to have “Free Time”. By free time, I mean freedom to move about but always in the same room as you so that you can keep a constant eye on him. We use baby gates to block off access to other rooms.
During the day repeat the above process and continue to take the puppy out every hour. If he does not do his business put him back in his crate and try again in 15 minutes.


NEVER let a puppy in training out of your site. Use the crate as you would a playpen for a human child. Even if you leave the room for a minute, either take the puppy with you or put him in the crate. If you turn your back for 60 seconds and your puppy has an accident, then you messed up and made a mistake and have missed the opportunity to make a correction and teach the puppy. Don’t blame the puppy for your mistake.


When Accidents Happen


NEVER, under any circumstance, punish a puppy for having an accident in the house!

Do not rub his nose in it and do not use any physical correction! If you catch him in the act you can use your voice to express your disapproval (I use a sharp but stern “Ah-Ah-Ah!”) then quickly scoop the puppy up and take him outside to finish his business. When he goes outside give him lots of praise.

Use an odor neutralizer. When an accident occurs it is important to completely remove the odor,otherwise your puppy will gravitate back to the area to relieve himself again. You can buy the neutralizers from most any pet store. Do not use household cleaners, most contain ammonia which will attract him back to the same spot.


A Few Tips to Help You Succeed


  •  Puppies will need to go potty first thing in the morning, after every meal, as soon as they wake up from naps and just before bedtime.

  •  A few hours before bedtime take up his water, this will help buy you a little more time between potty breaks at night.

  •  Observe your puppy’s behavior. If you see him smelling a particular spot or circling around, pick him up and take him outside.

  •  Keep your puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away his food between meals.

  •  Puppies may not initially like the crate. Some will cry, whine, bark and drive you crazy the first couple of days. It is important to simply ignore it and DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT OF THE CRATE WHEN THEY ARE PROTESTING. Doing so will teach your puppy that if he barks or whines long enough he will get rewarded and this will only encourage the behavior.

  • Training puppies takes time, consistency and patience. Dogs function best with structure, routine, and clear expectations. Add a little love and a few laughs, and house training won’t be as bad as it seems.

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