Housebreaking your new puppy
Fact:  Dogs are creatures of habit; they do what they have always done.  When urinating or
defecating, they do it where they have done it before.  As much as possible, allow the dog to
urinate or defecate only where you want him to continue doing so.

Fact:   Dogs react to smell.  They urinate where there is a smell of dog urine.  Eliminate the
smell of “accidents” from you house by cleaning as soon as possible with a solution of 1 part
white vinegar to 4 parts water.  This will not hurt most carpets or flooring, but test first.  
Commercial products, such as Simple Solution, may also eliminate the visible spot on a

Fact:  Dog’s bodies respond to what and when they eat and what they do.  Always take
your dog outside immediately after sleeping or eating, and during playtime.


“Crate” your dog (confine him to a small area, such as a wire or plastic dog crate large
enough for him to stand and turn around in) when you cannot watch him.
When you first get up in the morning, put the leash on the dog, urgently say, “Outside,
outside!” and run him through the house out into the yard to the place you want him to do his
When he does his thing, praise him to the skies.  This tells him that he has done a good
thing.  Also give a treat immediately.  (This may be no more than a piece of dry food from his
oncoming breakfast.)
If you wish, you may add a command word as he’s doing it: “Hurry Up” for urination and “Big
Business” for defecation are the simplest.  (If you wish, you may say “Tee-Tee” and “Go
Poo,” but you may not enjoy saying this later in public.)  The dog will learn to associate the
command with the action, this will make life a lot simpler if you travel with him and need to get
it taken care of at a rest area.
Stay out with him (on leash) for another five minutes or until you’re sure he has finished
everything possible.
Take the dog inside the house, remove the leash, and give breakfast.
Immediately after breakfast, take him out again to potty (see above directions).
Your dog may now have the “freedom” of the house for a short period of time (1/2-1 hour),
depending on his age.
At the end of his free (off leash & uncrated) time, put on his leash and take him out again.
If he empties his bladder and/or defecates, give him another short period off-leash in the
If he does nothing during his “potty break,” when you bring him back in, put him into the crate
for an hour.  An alternative to the crate is the “umbilical cord.”


5 minute potty opportunity
Success=1/2 to 1 hour’s house freedom, followed by
5 minute potty opportunity
Nothing doing = 1 hour in crate or on leash attached to you at all times (umbilical cord)
Sleeping, eating, and playing are always followed by a 5 minute potty opportunity


And they will happen
If you catch the dog in the act, shout “No! Outside!” and race her to the assigned potty place.
If you do not catch her in the act, simply take her out.
If she does potty some more, praise, reward, etc., and give freedom as per schedule.
If she does nothing more, crate her as though she had done nothing.
Clean up the accident before bringing the dog back into the room— do not allow her to
watch you clean up.
Urine accidents must be treated with vinegar mixture or with a commercial pet urine odor
neutralizer (such as Simple Solution) designed for dog training.


If everyone is gone from home all day, your housetraining may take longer, but it can be
done.  Some suggestions:
Try to come home in the middle of the day to walk the dog.  (This may mean a quick
sandwich in the car for lunch!)  If possible, get a friend, neighbor, or relative to “exercise” the
dog at least once or twice during the work day.  This should include walking and plenty of
praise FOR THE DOG DOING HIS BUSINESS.  You might consider hiring a “pet-sitter” for
the time of housebreaking.
If you cannot get home, and cannot get someone to help you, you may need to leave the
dog inside a well-fenced yard (not tied) or in a “mess room” lined with newspaper.  A young
puppy should not be crated all day, since he will just learn to “go” in the crate, and then you
will really have problems.
Try to avoid being gone for long periods of time at night and on week-ends or vacation
during the housebreaking period.


An “umbilical cord” in dog training is a six-foot leash attached at one end to the dog and at
the other end to the owner.  Thread the loop through a belt around your waist and go about
your business. (This is not for walking your dog down the street!)  You needn’t talk to or
correct the dog; the umbilical cord is self-correcting.  But watch what your dog is doing.
Some uses/advantages:  Housebreaking, bonding, leash training, attention on owner, etc.

Crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, and turn around.  Most
puppies and some older dogs will easily adapt to the crate and require very little training, but
if yours has a problem follow this procedure:
Start by tossing in treats and toys on an occasional basis.  When the dog goes in to get one,
raise him, but do not close the door.
Place the food bowl in the back of the crate, so that the dog has to go all the way in to eat.  
Again, leave the door open, and praise him for going in.  When the dog is comfortable with
the crate, put in an especially good treat, such as a  biscuit, and when he goes in to eat it,
praise him, close the door until he has finished, and then open the door to let him out.
As this becomes acceptable, leave the door closed for five minutes, then 10, and then 15.  If
the dog objects to staying in the crate, ignore his objections and him.  You are the boss and
you make the rules!
Once the dog is comfortable with 15 minutes in the crate with the door closed, you have
successfully trained him for it.
Copyright 1996 by Barbara McClatchey
Permission to reprint is given, but copyright must be included

Another good tip is to attach a bell or some type of audible signal to the doorknob for the dog
to signal when it’s time to go potty.  By incorporating this into your training every time prior to
going outside (game or not) your dog will be training you as well to recognize a “signal”.  At
first it may become a kind of game thing….but stick to it.  Even if they don’t need to go potty
they learn very quick if they don’t potty outside it’s back in the crate.  After all, they want to be
with you not in the crate; Dogs have a strong desire to please their family...they just need you
to teach them what pleases you.                   
 Return to FAQ