The key to effective housetraining requires diligence.

When you find a mess in your house, clean the area thoroughly using an enzyme-based product: (Nature’s Miracle, Simple Solution, etc.). Any remaining residue will serve as a marker for your dog, indicating that this is a good potty spot.

After you’ve cleaned the area, make it inaccessible in some way—put a chair over it or cover it with aluminum foil.

If you catch your dog “in the act,” do not throw a fit. Take him calmly by the collar and lead him outside. (If your dog is small enough, scoop him up and carry him out.) You do not want to give the dog the impression that you do not approve of him relieving himself.

Reward the dog for finishing up outside. Lots of praise and love.

In early puppyhood, puppies need to go out soon after eating, drinking, sleeping, or playing—in short, all the time.

Treat your newly adopted shelter dog like a puppy, regardless of his age.

Don’t just put the dog out alone in a fenced yard.

Go out with him.

You can’t let him know he’s making the right choice if you’re not out there with him.

Reward him for completing his business and make the reward memorable—a piece of garlic chicken, cheddar cheese, a walk.


Do not take the dog for a walk to do his business.

Instead go to your chosen potty area and wait. Once the dog goes to the bathroom, then begin your walk. If the dog doesn’t go within a few minutes, go back in the house and try again in a half hour. Many dogs on walks will hold off as long as they can because they know that once they’ve gone to the bathroom, their owner will turn around and head for home. Instead use the walk as a reward for going in the appointed area.

Prevent accidents by managing the dog’s environment. When you’re home, tether the dog to your waist. You’ll be certain to notice when the dog needs to go out. If you choose not to tether the dog, you must actively supervise. Dogs tend to relieve themselves in low-traffic areas— behind the couch, under the dining room table. Don’t allow the dog out of your sight, even for a moment. If you are not home, use a crate to encourage your dog to “hold it.”

When you’re out, either uses a crate or a puppy-proof room to minimize the chance of damage. Until the dog has gone three months without an accident, do not leave him unattended or unconfined.

Our favorite housetraining book: Housetraining for Dummies, by Susan McCullough.


Other Reasons Your Puppy Might House Soil:

Urine marking

Separation anxiety

Submissive urination


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