Use this guide to facilitate house training for puppies or dogs.

Two rules for house-training success.

Prevent Indoor Elimination.

  • Supervise your puppy in the house.
  • Crate or confine when you are unable to supervise well

Facilitate Outdoor Elimination.

  • Take your dog to the same place consistently
  • Praise and reinforce a high value treat.

Preventing Indoor Elimination

Potty training works best when indoor accidents are avoided all together.  Treat adult dogs like puppies when moved to a new environment.  Use the following methods to prevent indoor elimination.

Use a Crate or Confined Space

A crate is a terrific training and management tool.  Confined spaces encourage most dogs to hold their urine and feces until they have more room.  Choose a crate that allows your dog enough space to turn and settle comfortably.

Guidelines for crating puppies:

  • 8-10 weeks – 1 hour
  • 11-12 weeks – 2 hours
  • 13-16 weeks – 3 hours
  • 4+ months – 4 hours

Click Here to Learn How to Crate Train Your Puppy or Adult Dog

Use a Leash

Using a leash while indoors will help you keep a closer eye on your dog.  Mature puppies can drag their leash but more rambunctious puppies may need tethered to your belt or a sturdy supervised fixture.  Small or shy dogs may prefer to be leash walked outside instead of picked up.

Limit Access to Unsupervised Areas

Use baby gates or exercise pens at thresholds to limit your puppy or dog to easy to supervise areas.  With close supervision you will learn their elimination communication signals.  In order for your dog to create a preference for eliminating outdoors it is necessary to avoid letting them practice on indoor surfaces, even potty pads

Facilitate Outdoor Elimination

Make it easy to get your dog outdoors by keeping your supplies (leash, treats, poop bags, etc) within reach of the door.  Good house training includes creating a surface preference for eliminating on grass or substrate of your choice.  This

Make a Routine

Take your puppy outside at key times such as when they wake in the morning, eat meals, drink water, or transition between activities.  Routines will help your dog anticipate potty breaks and learn to hold their elimination until the anticipated time.

Set a timer

Time flies and your dog may need out every 20-30 minutes.  A timer will help keep you from getting lost in a task.    Keep potty breaks to under 5 minutes and if your dog fails to eliminate keep them leashed or kenneled until the next opportunity.

Reward Outdoor Elimination

Keep high value treats by the door.  Ignore jumping or pestering for treats and turn in small slow circles until your dog turns their focus to the ground.  Once your dog has eliminated, praise and reinforce with the tasty treat.  Some dogs may eliminate more than once so give them another shot in a new spot briefly before returning inside or releasing to play.

How to Handle House Training Mishaps

Indoor accidents are par for the course but persistent trouble is often a sign of lax supervision or too much free space.

Interrupt mistakes as they are happening.

Watch closely for sniffing or circling or sudden lack of focus.  Gently interrupting your puppy and hustle him outside to the potty area.

Never punish.

You must catch your puppy in the act for the interruption to work, and again, be gentle or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you.  Clean up any indoor messes with an enzymatic cleaner to remove protein residue.


  • If your puppy is going to the bathroom in his crate he may be confined for too long or have too large a space.  Let your dog to eliminate immediately before kenneling and arrange for your dog to have more frequent elimination opportunities.  Separation anxiety can also be cause and may need some additional training.  Though it’s not ideal, some dogs do better when confined to a larger area with a potty pad.
  • Troubleshooting: If a house-trained dog suddenly has accidents, call your veterinarian. Your dog could have a bladder infection or another medical problem.