Potty Training Your Puppy: Do’s and Dont’s

Jenna Matisz

Oh, potty training. Such a necessary evil.

We’ve all gotta do it, whether we like it or not. So let’s do it right the first time, shall we?

Full housebreaking typically takes 4-6 months so you need to be in it for the long haul. But don’t worry – it’ll be so worth it.

Here are the essential Do’s and Don’ts of the housebreaking world that will help keep the process as pain-free as possible for you.

Housebreaking Do’s

Use a crate

Dog owners typically take three approaches to housebreaking.

  1. Crates
  2. Puppy pee pads
  3. Frequent trips outdoors

All fine options but most vets and dog trainers would recommend going the crate route.

Why? Because dogs are den animals and want to have a little space to call their own where they can feel comfortable and secure. Since your pup is already going to find a spot in your house that he/she deems theirs, you may as well provide a place that’s convenient for you. Enter crate.

Crates are the perfect 2-in-1 training tool because you can teach your pup to be housebroken and get used to being in a crate for travelling. If your crate fits your dog’s size well, he/she will be unlikely to relieve him/herself in it because they will see it as their home. You wouldn’t want your bedroom to be all stinky and gross, would you? Neither does your dog.

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Follow a schedule

Consistency is key. Just like when you’re trying to develop a new habit, your dog needs a consistent routine so he/she knows what to expect.

As a general rule, start with taking your pup outside every 30-60 minutes and after every nap and meal. And don’t forget a quick stop outdoors before bed or before you leave your furry friend alone.

Take your pup to the exact same spot every single time you go outdoors. He/she will soon learn to associate that spot with doing their business.

If you want an easy, printable schedule to post on your fridge for everyone in your house to follow, click here. 


This one might seem a bit obvious, but it’s easy to forget. Watch for the signs that your dog needs to go out.

You’ll probably see your pup sniffing around, whining, circling, becoming restless, or walking stiffly with his/her tail straight up.

Use reinforcement

If I could recommend one tip above all, this would be it. Reinforcement is key to housebreaking. Without it, your dog will have no clue what is right from wrong.

So every time your pup does his/her business, make them feel like a rock star. Jump up and down, clap, exclaim excitedly, give hugs, give treats. You want your furry friend to feel like the smartest pup on the block.

PS. keeping up this level of excitement can get old fast, but once again, consistency is key. You want your dog to feel rewarded every single time he/she goes outside to avoid confusion.

Housebreaking Don’ts


This is a tricky one to avoid. If you see your pup popping a squat on your nice rug, of course you’re going to be annoyed and want to scream at him/her. You want him/her to know that they did something wrong, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately scolding and nose-rubbing doesn’t actually work. Dogs aren’t capable of connecting anger with their accident. In fact, it will actually harm your relationship with your new furry friend because he/she will become scared of you and afraid of doing his/her business in front of you.

If you catch your dog starting to do his/her business inside, act immediately. Make a startling noise, pick the pup up and bring him/her to the designated potty spot outdoors. Then shower him/her in lots and lots of praise.

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Leave a linger

When your pup inevitably does do his/her business inside, make sure to clean it up properly.

One of the main reasons why dogs continue to go potty inside is because their last accident’s scent is still present. They are highly motivated to do their business in areas that already smell like urine or feces. That’s part of the reason why dogs pee in spots outside where other dogs have already peed.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the area your dog has soiled inside with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleanser to eliminate the odour.

Leave the water out

A simple tip – but this one is easy to forget! Remove your pup’s water bowl about 2 hours before bedtime. This reduces the chances of him/her needing to relieve him/herself inside throughout the night.

Trust your dog too soon

Don’t get too excited when you notice that your dog is starting to get a hang of things.

Although it’s tempting to finally stop putting in all of the effort to stick to your routine, this is when your pup needs it the most. He/she has just begun to establish a solid connection between the outdoors and going potty. If you abandon your routine now, your dog will become confused and the connection will be weakened.

So keep it up until you see your dog showing consistently good potty habits for a few weeks. It’ll be worth the extra effort – promise!

And that’s it! Your basic Do’s and Dont’s for housebreaking your new puppy. It can definitely be a confusing process – so lucky for you, we’ve created a free, comprehensive how-to guide to help you through it. In our Housebreaking Your Puppy 101 guide, you’ll find even more tips and tricks to make sure the process runs with as few accidents (pun intended) as possible. Good luck!

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