What is Housebreaking a Puppy? (Includes methods of housebreaking)


Today’s post is centered around housebreaking your puppy.  Once the puppy is settled, this tends to be the first thing on the puppy’s parent’s minds and for good reason.  You don’t want to spend your whole day cleaning up messes.  I recommend the puppy’s space be on a smooth floor is possible.  Carpet tends to be a lot harder to clean.

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What is housebreaking a puppy?

There are three main terms that are the same thing with different terminology.    The terms are housebreaking, training, and potty training.  All three have the same goal. The most popular term is potty train.  For the most part they are used the same in context. Here are the definitions from Google’s dictionary tool:

  • Housetrain – train (a pet) to excrete outside the house or only in a special place; housebreak.
  • Housebreak – train (a pet) to urinate and defecate outside the house or only in a special place.
  • Potty train – train (a small child) to use a potty.

The goal of housebreaking is to enable a puppy to relieve themselves in a designated spot and not make a mess inside the home.  The term “potty train” will be used for the rest of this post.

What You Need to Know to Be Ready for Potty Training

You have your new puppy home.  Hopefully all of the introductions went ok and your puppy is taking a nap after all that excitement.

By now, you probably have a specific question on your mind.  The question is when should you start potty training a puppy. And you will be happy to hear that the time is now. Kind of.

Potty training a pup is a process.  You will want to plan ahead and have somebody who can help let the puppy out based on their needs.

You want your puppy to successfully control their bladder and they might not be old enough to have complete control.  Based on this alone, you should have a routine for how often you take your puppy outside.  Assuming your puppy is 8 weeks old, or about 2 months old, you’ll want to take them out every hour.  Why 1 hour? Because that’s about how long they can hold it in.

Common thought in the dog world is that however many months old the puppy is, is the number of hours they can control themselves.  This applies to 3 month old to 6 month old puppies.  There are occasions where these rules are not applicable, so you need to pay close attention to your puppy’s needs.

You’ll need to define a schedule for the puppy to go out based on their needs.  Start with 1 hour and adjust if needed.  You will probably need to plan for middle of the night cries.

Creating Your Schedule & Routine

The schedule you create will not be just going outside.  Ideally, you will incorporate all of the puppy’s needs.  There should be mealtime, play time, walks, and all the activities the puppy will do during the day.  And of course, the schedule should include potty times.  As you begin to learn your puppy’s habits and ability to hold it all in, the schedule may need readjusted.  Hopefully, that is creating longer times between going outside or to their space to relieve themselves.

Potty Training Methods

There are multiple methods for training a puppy and everybody thinks their way is the best.  Some are outdated now that most people are aware of how the puppy is treated.  The process should NEVER involve inflicting pain to the puppy. Here are some training methods that are reward based training:

Crate Training: Leaving a puppy in a crate just big enough for them to lay down.  They tend to wait to relieve themselves when they realize they are uncomfortable in the crate if they do relieve themselves.

Confinement Training: Similar to crate training but done utilizing a small space in your home.  A laundry room or bathroom are not as effective as crate training because the puppy can move to a different area of the space they are in.

Paper Training: Paper training involves putting papers near a door and having the puppy focus on relieving themselves on the papers.  As time goes by, the papers are moved closer to the door if not already there.  The next step is to move the papers to just outside the door.  Now the puppy has to go outside to go potty.

Potty Pad Training: Similar to paper training but using puppy pads instead of paper.

Supervision: Supervision is like it sounds.  You would watch the puppy until they give a cue that they need to go outside.  You’d then take the puppy outside or to a designated space and stay there until the puppy goes.

Bell Training: Bell training can be incorporated into any method including older puppies & dogs.  It’s great to have when you’re at home and the puppy isn’t confined.

Alternative Potty Training for Smaller Puppies

All Natural Pee PadSmaller puppies that are not going to go outside on a regular basis may use a litter box for dogs or a pee pad like Bark Potty.

This can be very helpful with the amount of times your puppy needs to go.  It could be a good option if you live in an apartment and there’s not a dog park on the premises, or you can’t get outside fast enough.

Use the above methods as they can apply to this type of house training.

What is reward based training?

Reward based training focuses on only the good behavior.  When the puppy doesn’t do what you want, they are ignored.  When they do what you want, they get treats and lots of praise.


This post covered what housebreaking a puppy is as well as introducing how to set up a routine for teaching your puppy to relieve themselves outside or a specific place.  Different methods of training were introduced as well.

There will be more posts on the routine you set up and how to maximize the chance for your puppy’s success.

What method did you use or think you are going to use for your puppy?

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