House training, like all other behavior, is a learned behavior. Without sufficient time and attention spent on this task, some dogs risk losing their home.


  1. Regular schedule and potty breaks
  2. Reward proper elimination
  3. Routine supervision


Good house training habits start with a identifying your dog’s elimination habits. This will help you better estimate when your dog needs to go.  If necessary, keep a chart tracking your dog’s outdoor and indoor elimination.  In general dogs will eliminate first thing in the morning and may have a 10-20 minute delay between peeing and pooping.  Some dogs will urinate multiple times if given the opportunity.  Feeding your dog stimulates intestinal contractions so be sure to let them out to eliminate within 15-30 minutes after a meal.

A dog left unattended for multiple hours that has not eliminated in your absence will likely feel the urge upon your return.  Young puppies may require potty breaks every 15-30 minutes when out of their pen or kennel. They may have accidents in their kennel if left for more than an hour or two.  Puppies may initially require excursions during the midnight hours but most pups can sleep through the night by around 12-16 weeks of age.


If a pup must be left for an extended period and no one is available to let the puppy out to potty try leaving them in a confined space lined with potty pads. It is best if their ‘potty station’ is separate from their sleeping space.  A kennel with a side and front door can accomplish this. A hole can be cut in the dividing panel that comes with most wire crates to separate their bedding from the potty pad.

To help your dog sleep through the night, remove food and water about an hour before bed and allow at least two potty breaks after last consumption. Whether your dog alerts you to his needs or not, an excursion after the following activities will improve your odds at house training success:

  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Playing
  • Chewing on a toy
  • Before bedtime
  • Sleeping


Unsupervised dogs have opportunities to have accidents.  To house train your dog more efficiently, block transition spaces to limit your puppy or dog to a manageable area of the house.  Exercise pens can be stretched across large openings.  Dogs on drag leashes can be tethered to your body or anchor to a sturdy fixture. Keep your pup in sight so that any sniffing, circling, or inattentive behavior can be addressed with a quick excursion outside.  If you observe the rear end tucking or lowering this is a sure sign that your dog is going to eliminate.  Usher them outside quickly then praise profusely when they conduct their business outdoors.

Confine unsupervised puppies and dogs to a space sized appropriately to their needs that is small enough to discourage elimination naturally.   If you are undertaking an activity that requires you to go out of sight of your dog or even simply turn your back it is best to confine them with a tasty stuffed Kong so they’ll neither suffer your absence nor have an accident.

Watch this video for signals that your dog needs to go potty.


Choose a desirable potty spot and leash walk your puppy or dog for potty breaks.  Pick a spot and stick to that space. Restrict any drifting to a space no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet.  Some puppies are easily distracted so choose a boring spot with visual barriers.  Turn away from your puppy and take slow steps in a circle to encourage them to keep moving and sniffing. Praise gently as they start eliminating then reward your dog with a treat WHILE you are still outdoors.  Insist they pay their deposit before a walk or playtime so you may use real life reinforcers instead of food all the time.  Your dog will quickly learn that going potty quickly outside is great and a fast way to earn a paycheck.

In order to reinforce good behavior you must be present in the moment.  Luckily, potty breaks can generally be kept under 3 minute.  If the pup fails to eliminate at the proposed time simply return indoors promptly and give the dog some bone broth or a small snack to get things moving.  Set a timer for 10-20 minutes to remind you to visit the outdoors.  Keep a jacket and treats by the door to maximize your time and effort.


If your puppy has had an accident and you find it after the fact use an enzyme based cleaning solution designed specifically for eliminating animal odors. You’ve missed the opportunity to teach your puppy where to go and that’s not the puppy’s fault. Your dog won’t understand WHY you’re upset, they’ll only associate you with displeasure and may seek to avoid you in the future. They may ACT guilty but they are only trying to appease you.

There are 2 reasons that dogs relieves themselves in the house:

  1. The dog desires to eliminate and is not properly house trained.
  2. A physical condition or illness prevents the dog from waiting until someone can let him out.

A dog previously house trained that suddenly begins eliminating indoors may have a physical disorder.  Appropriate veterinary treatment may resolve the issue.  Routine accidents implies that you never finished fully house training your dog. Dogs caught early in the act of eliminating indoors may be interrupted and redirected with non-threatening intervention and ushered outdoors.  Reward promptly for finishing outside or return your dog to their kennel until you can take them out again.

Some owners feel that their dog eliminates indoors out of spite. To date no scientific evidence supports this conclusion. Punishing a dog for eliminating in the house may teach him to avoid going in front of you.  This means he’ll look for opportunities to go out of sight which could mean in another room or in your shoes in the closet.  Punishment can also compel some dogs to eat their feces as a means to avoid your displeasure.  Appeasing behavior from your dog is not an acknowledgement of guilt, it’s an attempt to diffuse your obvious displeasure at finding waste in your home.

Puppy rearing can be a challenging time due the volume of oversight required to keep your puppy on track.  If you have any questions about your dog or training program please call or text us at 913.712.8742. Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.