One of the Toughest parts of raising your young puppy is Housebreaking. Most families raise puppies as young as 8 weeks old. At this age what you can expect is Pee and Poop everywhere.

Potty Training/House Breaking Starts at 12 weeks and lasts to 1 Year

The Basics

1. Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule (meals at the same time everyday and same portion), and take away leftovers

2. Take puppy out to eliminate:

  • First thing in the morning(6:30-7am) 
  • Always take puppy outside after meals
  • When waking up from a nap
  • During and after playtime- take a brief intermission (every 10-15 minutes) for a potty break
  • Make sure your puppy goes out last thing at night (11pm) 
  • Before being left alone or in the crate
  • Every 30 minutes to an hour depending on water intake and age (poop is usually calculated as age +1= hours)

3. Take puppy to the same spot each time to potty. The puppy’s scent will prompt them to go

4. Stay with your puppy outside, at least until fully house trained. Use commands like “Go Pee, Poop!” when you are outside. Use body language to point at where they should go

5. When your puppy eliminates outside, praise: “Good Pee/Poop!” or give a treat. A walk around the neighborhood is a nice reward, some playtime in the house with you and toys is nice too. Just try not to bring puppy back in and put them in the crate immediately, that wouldn’t be a reward and they may think that there is a connection between elimination and confinement

6. For Some Puppies, too much praise during elimination is distracting and may stop them from fully peeing because they want to come to you. Try whispering or smiling as praise


8. Limited access to your home and keep them near an exit to the outside potty area.

9. Keep a leash on your puppy when you are supervising them in the house and during playtime. Keeping the leash on will A. help to desensitize leash and collar B. helps you to be ready to prevent accidents and eliminates you from running at your puppy to pick them up and run them outside (very scary for a puppy) C. the leash is a great tool to either tether the puppy when you have to step away quickly or to take the puppy with you while you move around the house.  Keep in mind you should be taking your puppy outside every 10 – 20 minutes if they are also having free access to water.

10. Free access to water and food is not recommended. Small portions of water throughout the day with a potty break afterwards.

11. Make your “house training” a training session. Practice playing fetch or teaching tricks in 10 minutes and encourage your puppy to walk to the door to go outside and pee. 


If you spend a lot of time with your puppy outside playing, they may be learning to pee and poop whenever they feel the impulse and this may create a setback in your housetraining. Between 8 weeks to 6 months, make sure you are spending time daily playing in the house and encouraging them to “tell you” they have to go out by walking to the door and when they get to the door say “Good Outside! YES!”. You can mark many behaviors in the doorway that help teach your puppy to communicate such as walking to the door, scratching at the door, barking, whining, or ringing a bell. Just remember that that any behavior you reinforce now will become an adult behavior for life- if you don’t want scratch marks on your door, or a barking dog, don’t encourage those behaviors.

If you don’t crate train your puppy at night and they sleep in your bed which causes them to wake up during the night to go pee and poop outside, you may create a pattern of behavior that may be difficult to extinguish as an adult dog.

Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Eliminate

Whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or, if your puppy is unconfined, barking or scratching at the door, are all signs they need to go. Take your puppy out right away. Disappearing, quiet puppies are all signals you should find your puppy immediately and take them out, say: “Outside!, Let’s go!”

Here are a few guidelines for using a crate
1. Make sure it is large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not big enough for him to use a corner as a bathroom
2. If you are using the crate for more than 4 hours at a time, make sure puppy has fresh water, preferably in a dispenser you can attach to the crate and possibly a crate attached to a playpen where there are pee pads so the puppy pees and poops far from their crate but they are safe in a space with no access to roaming the home freely.
3. If you can’t be home during the house training period, make sure somebody else gives your puppy a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months
4. If puppy is eliminating in crate, use a playpen attached to crate If they are less than 6 months old and you are gone more than 6 hours. Eliminating in the crate could have several meanings: they may have brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store where they lived before; they may not be getting outside enough; the crate may be too big; or they may be too young to hold it in.

Do’s and Don’ts in Potty Training Your Puppy

Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind while housetraining your puppy:


  • Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you
  • If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so they know they have done something unacceptable. Then take your puppy outside by calling them or gently taking them by the collar. When they finished, praise or give a small treat
  • If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing their nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident


  • Staying outside (no more than 10 minutes) with puppy may help to curb accidents. They may need the extra time to explore
  • Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot
  • Put your puppy back in the crate if they don’t do anything outside and try again in 2-5 minutes and repeat until you are successful with a potty break and reward with supervised playtime.

Good Luck !