Pet Photography
by Fred Roessler &
Donnasue Jacobi



House Training

This is probably the Number One behavior-training problem that most people misunderstand. Quite frankly this exercise is very much like potty training a toddler – it takes time and patience!

The easiest way to teach your pup where to relieve itself is to first decide where do you want it to go. It should be an area that is easily cleaned one that you can hose down regularly and that is relatively out-of-the way of traffic.

First thing to do is to become aware of what a puppy does just before he relieves himself. This requires that you watch your puppy to pick up his body language. Most puppies have to relieve themselves as soon as they wake from a nap, 15-20 minutes after they eat or drink water, when they see you at the end of the day (or anytime after you have left them for a period of time). They may also have to go after they have been wrestling with another "pack" member, i.e. kids or another household pet. Or when they have had a chance to "run around" for a few minutes. 

When a puppy (or dog) needs to relieve itself, they usually drop their noses to the ground and start sniffing. As soon as the puppy drops his nose to the ground, take it to its “area” and give it a command – I use the word “piddle or pee” and my dogs learn to understand this word with their action of relieving themselves. This association does take time, so praise the puppy when it's going (good pee, potty, whatever) and give it a treat when you come back in.

The first few times you bring your puppy out to his area, leave some of the droppings so that he can start to understand that this is the “toilet” area for him. All puppies will go and sniff anything lying on the ground – it’s just a reminder of what to do and where.

A puppy will not be able to hold its bladder more than a couple of hours until it’s about 4 months old. Then they should be able to sleep through the night. By about 6 months they should be able to hold their bladder for up to 4-6 hours at a time, provided you took them out before you leave them (in their crate). So if you crate your pup during the day, someone has to take it out on a regular basis, otherwise it will relieve itself in the crate by accident, and then you have a different problem in the making.

Please give the pup time to “learn” where to go and NEVER punish the puppy if it has an accident. A puppy has an accident because you weren’t paying attention, period. However, as a dog matures, if it has house soiling problems, then you need to seek professional dog behavior consultation to find out why. Remember, if you teach your pup where to relieve itself during the first two weeks after you bring it home, you probably will not have these types of problems as it matures. A dog really wants to go where it’s supposed to and have a clean environment to sleep and eat in.

Timing is Everything

Puppies need to relieve themselves:

Right after eating or playing

Right after waking up

Approximately every two hours during the day while they are awake

Be prepared to walk him/her promptly at these times before a mistake happens in the house. Keep your puppy on a regular schedule of meals and walks to help make house-training easier and successful for both of you.

Tip: Don’t end a potty trip right after the puppy relieves itself as this may teach it that if he holds it he gets to stay out longer with you. After a potty break, play a little bit or do a little obedience practice – practice the “come” exercise, then go back inside. The puppy learns to relieve itself and gets to enjoy going outdoors. Relieving itself does not mean the “end” of outside time with you.

Tip: Watch your puppy every minute that he’s loose inside. If you notice him acting like he’s about to eliminate, say “no” and pick him up and take him outside to his place. Praise whenever s/he goes outside. A puppy should NOT be loose to run around the house and needs to be confined to smaller areas, or be on leash with you learning how to “stay on his bed” while you work in your office.The command I use is “place” and you decide where that is in any room.

Tip: Every outside relief is a step forward in house-training; each accident is a step backwards.



Reliable Crate Training

Buy a crate that will fit your dog when it’s an adult; or you can get a smaller crate for a young puppy and move up to the adult size.

Your dog is basically a “denning” animal and they feel perfectly happy and safe in their “own space.” You have your bedroom, give your dog his/her room. Crate training will make housebreaking an easier task. However, if your dog is crated a lot during the day you do need to make sure they can relieve themselves in the area you designate, and to be exercised. Think about this: how would you like to be in a little confined space all day long with no where to go?

Puppies have little bladders and have to be walked every two hours until they are about 12 weeks old (3 months). Then they may be able to hold it for 3-4 hours, but that’s asking a lot for a baby to do. If a puppy makes a mistake, DO NOT try to shame him/her or correct them. Simply take them to the designated place and give them the chance to go outside. DO NOT clean the mess up in front of the puppy – they will think this is a game WITH you. Put the puppy in a safe place, clean up, use a disinfectant/odor eliminator, and wait until they need to go again.