How to House Train a Puppy

About the first thing a new dog owner needs to learn is how to house train a puppy. Now there a many wrong ways to house train puppies. 

You've probably heard about some of them. So let's first just set the record straight on what you should not do.

For starters, never scold or hit your puppy if he has an accident. You must expect and be prepared for accidents.

With the right approach the number of accidents can be minimized, but they will happen.

It's no different than when a parent potty trains a child. They don't give up diapers right a way...they know accidents will happen and they're prepared for them.

Anticipating accidents and being prepared for them goes a long way towards making the experience more enjoyable and much less stressful.

There's another terrible practice that I still hear about today. It's the practice of rubbing a puppy's nose in his waste after he has an accident.

Please, please, please, NEVER do this! It's cruel and confusing to a puppy, and may cause him to resent and fear you. It may even make the house training effort take that much longer.

Now let's consider...

Key Components to House Train a Puppy

If you want to be successful in your house training efforts, there are two key components that you need to master. Note: A free e-book on the subject is available for download. It covers everything you need know in full detail. Click here to get your free copy.

  • Manage your puppy's eliminations. When you house train a puppy, a big part of it involves controlling when your puppy will need to "go" and how often. You do this by feeding and watering your puppy at specific times and then taking him outside shortly after. Therefore, never leave food and water out for a puppy that you're trying to house train.

  • Give your puppy plenty of opportunities for success. Praise is your key weapon in house training puppies. The more you can praise your puppy the better and the faster he'll learn what you expect. When he eliminates outside, make sure to praise him enthusiastically and immediately afterwards (even praise him while he's still going).If you can remember these key factors, you'll be well on your way to success.

Be Consistent when you House Train a Puppy

Dog are creatures of habit and learn by consistent repetition. If you're not consistent, your puppy will become confused and won't understand what you want him to do. 

This is the worst thing that can happen. Confusion is the enemy of all dog training. But if you are consistent, your puppy will more quickly learn what you expect.

It can't be stated too often, that puppies and dogs absolutely crave your approval and praise. You can use this as a powerful tool to help speed up your house training efforts.

Be Patient when you House Train a Puppy

An important part of owning a dog is understanding that they make mistakes. 

They don't have the intelligence that we do (or that we should have). 

But they can learn as you consistently and patiently correct their mistakes and praise their successes.

Now, the only kind of mistake that you can effectively correct is the one you actually catch him making. If you find a puddle on the floor, all you can do is clean it up. It's too late to correct your puppy for this mistake. Next time try to catch him the act!

Clean Up After Every Accident

When you house train a puppy, it's very important that you thoroughly clean up any accident that occurs. There are 2 important reasons for this:

  1. Dogs are drawn to areas where they have eliminated before (it's that creature of habit thing again).
  2. Dogs have a very keen sense of smell...much keener than humans. Unless you thoroughly clean the area where an accident happens, your puppy will be able to smell his eliminations. And, he'll feel comfortable returning to the scene of the crime.

Here's the process for an effective clean up:

  • Don’t use a steam cleaner on carpeting or upholstery. The heat will permanently set the urine odor and the stain.
  • Don’t use any household product containing ammonia. The ammonia will actually intensify the urine odor making it even more attractive to your puppy. 
  • Remove any solid waste and soak up any liquid waste using newspaper, paper towels, a sponge, or a mop. Continue until the area is almost dry to the touch. 
  • Clean the affected area with soap and water. For carpeting: Clean with a product designed to remove pet stains from carpeting. Note: Not all products work equally well on all carpets. You may need to try different brands to get a stain out.
  • Once the stain is removed, follow up with a pet odor neutralizer. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully.
  • If the urine has soaked through to the underlying carpet padding, your job will tougher. You will need to thoroughly clean or replace the affected padding.

Housebreaking vs. Paper Training

One of the first decisions you'll need to make when you start to house train a puppy is whether you will housebreak or paper train him. There are good reasons for choosing either one. You just need to decide what's best for you, your family and your new dog.


If you intend for your dog to only eliminate outdoors, you'll choose the housebreaking method. Housebreaking is the most common method and is the best one for most people.

If you're going to housebreak your puppy...

  • You should have easy access to an outdoor area where your dog can eliminate. This may not be possible if you live on the top floor of a high-rise in the city.
  • You should be physically able to take your dog outdoors on a regular basis. This can be challenging for elderly or disabled folks.
  • Your schedule (or someone's schedule) should allow you to take your puppy outdoors every few hours while you're housebreaking him. As your dog gets older, he'll be able to wait all day between eliminations. If this isn't possible, it will just take longer to house train your puppy.

If any of these do not apply to your situation, you may need to consider paper training (at least to begin with).

Paper Training

If you are comfortable with having your dog eliminating in your home or must permit it out of necessity, then paper training is the method for you.

Paper training is a good option for you if...

  • You don't have ready access to the outdoors.
  • You are not physically able to get your dog outdoors on a regular basis.

Paper training may NOT be a good option for you if...

  • Your puppy is a large breed dog. You should be prepared to deal with a large quantity of waste.
  • Your puppy is male. Adult males tend to lift their leg when they urinate. Therefore, your walls and furniture could become targets.
  • You are dealing with an ADULT dog that has already been house broken. He may become confused when you expect him to go inside the house.

Related Pages...

Housebreaking a Puppy

Paper Train a Puppy

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New Dog Owner? Check Out These Pages First...

Selecting a Dog

Type of Dog

Choosing the right Dog

Naming your new Dog

Finding the right Food

House Training your Dog

General Dog Care Tips

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