Is Housebreaking Your Puppy Driving You Crazy?

Read Key Tips and a Step by Step Guide on How To House Train your Puppy Successfully from expert trainer and founder of Who’s Walking Who Dog Training Centres, Gillian Ridgeway.

  • Proper Supervision
  • Consistency
  • Choose A Designated Spot to Go
  • Give Positive Feedback- Reward Good Behaviours
  • Accident Avoidance

sweetie the Jack Russell on the toilet

It’s all fun and games until puppy pees on the rug or the bed.  Yes, that is the lament of new puppy parents everywhere. It was also my issue with Kilo the Pug. He does not like to go potty outside if it is cold and he has a small bladder. White bath mats, white rugs and white bed linen are all very appealing toilets for some reason (he had been in 4 homes when I took him in as a foster last year aged 2). I even thought about teaching him to use my toilet as he often tries to follow me into the bathroom. He will get up on it and even flush, but he does not pee yet.


I consulted with Gillian Ridgeway.  After 6 months of hard work and routine, Kilo is pretty good now, especially if the weather is OK. We still have the occasional accident or rebellion if I do not take him out enough, but otherwise he is on a good schedule.

Gillian agreed to share her wisdom below in this guest post.

“I recently added a new pup to my family named London.  Let me just speak for all trainers when I say, with a smile on my face, that our dogs don’t care what we do for a living.  We do have the expertise and resources to get the job done in an efficient manner, but we still have to join the ranks of everyone else when we toilet train them.”

How Do I House Train A New Puppy?

Follow this modern step by step guide:

Crate training your puppy is the best way to keep them supervised when not under your watchful eye.

The great majority of pups naturally keep their crate area clean.  When choosing a crate make sure it is a comfortable size, one that is large enough to spread out in but not too large. When you leave for a few hours or put them to bed in the evening, the crate can be your best friend and a comforting safe haven for your pup.

Bladder Capacity

The bladder of your pup will develop as he matures.  A good rule of thumb for crating him during the day is one hour for every month of life plus one.  This means if your pup is 3 months old, most pups can be left for 4 hours.  Overnight is different, as they are less active.  Most pups can sleep in their crate about 7-8 hours at night, depending on their age and size.

Cute puppy London from the All About Pets Show 2013.


Choose a designated potty spot.

In my case, it is the backyard. First thing in the morning, let your puppy out of his crate and get him quickly into the back yard.  Keep him moving and then praise him when he eliminates.  This is not the time to shoo him out and put the coffee on.  It is the time to supervise him.  You will need to know what is coming out, and when/how often.

Reward Good Behaviours

A helpful tip for potty training is to give your puppy lots of encouragement and even some reward (like treats and petting) every time they get it right.

Keep to a Schedule and Avoid Accidents

Keep to a regular feeding and potty break schedule right from when you first bring your puppy home. Adjust your potty schedule as your puppy grows.

Most puppies spend the majority of their days sleeping.  They need to head outside after each nap. Start to watch your pup’s natural play time and make sure he gets out about every 30 minutes to an hour at first.

It is important to provide a lot of opportunities for your pup to eliminate outdoors and not to give any opportunities to use indoors as a toilet.  What is equally important is to learn the signals your puppy is giving you that tell you he or she needs to use the bathroom so you avoid accidents.

Signals Your Puppy Is Giving You That It’s Time For Potty


-Sniffing the floor/ scratching the floor/ looking for a private place to pee (like behind furniture)

-Going back to a place where he or she has previously gone to the bathroom

-Going to and sniffing the door

-Vocalizing, whining or barking.

If you notice your puppy doing these things, you should take him or her outside as soon as you can!

Cute Pug Poses On Toilet

What To Do When You Find “An Accident”

If you do happen to come across an “accident”, do NOT blame your puppy. Some occasional “accidents” may be your fault for leaving the pup too long, or not keeping to a routine.

The answer is not to scold or use violence or punish. A puppy won’t make the connection and will only learn to fear you.

Instead, you need to wonder where you were, and how he or she got out of your sight, or how you missed the signs. We all let down our guards, so just aim to do better next time. Clean the area with a product specific to this use and then use a commercial odour eliminator if necessary. Be cautious of products containing ammonia, since they smell enough like urine that they may actually attract the dog to eliminate in that place again.

What To Do If You Catch Your Puppy Mid-Accident

If I catch my puppy in the act of eliminating inside the house, I interrupt him and take him quickly outside to the proper place (without harsh words or punishment). If he eliminates outside, I praise him. Remember supervision and positive reinforcement of the right actions are key.

You can use an indoor tether or leash to keep him from wandering away if your back is turned for a few seconds.  Of course, he should be fully supervised while on his tether.

Housetraining your puppy will require the entire family to be consistent, and for everyone to be patient while he or she learns what you expect.  Most puppies do want to do the right thing!

And London?  He came to me in the winter, and clearing paths through the snow was part of our daily routine, but he learned to maneuver the flakes, and yes, the task is complete!

Happy Training Tuesday!

Watch an adorable video of  London showing off his first two tricks on our YouTube Channel

Screen shot 2013-06-03 at 12.28.12 PM

Send us your questions, tips, puppy pics, stories and comments below!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *