How To House Train A Puppy – A Complete Guide

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Even though puppies can be annoying sometimes, their warm nature and easy-to-please character make it a rewarding experience to have them around.

Apart from puppies being friendly, research has shown that having them around helps relieve stress and improve communication between people.

However, having to house train (or toilet train) a puppy is what makes most people cringe.

This usually seems like a daunting task to most puppy owners, especially to people with no experience raising a dog. However, this should not deter you from bringing home a puppy of your choice, since there are several effective house training methods you can employ.

This article is all about house training your puppy. Here’s what we’ll be covering:

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What is house training?

House training is a term used to describe the methods employed to help train a dog on exactly where it should empty its bowels. It can also be referred to as potty training or toilet training.

When To Start House Training A Puppy

For most dogs, house training should start when they are young at around 3-4 months old.

During this period, they can quickly grasp training commands and effectively implement them. Although most breeds are fully house trained within 4-6 months, some can take up to one year to catch on.

Some factors determine how long a puppy takes to get fully toilet trained. Below is a list of some of them:

  • breed: your dog’s breed plays a significant role in house training. For example, Collies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Irish Water Spaniels pups are some of the easiest breeds to potty train. Beagles, Bichons Frises, and Jack Russell Terriers, on the other hand, are among the most challenging species to house train.
  • size: smaller dogs are often more difficult to house train when compared to large dogs. This is because their faster metabolism and smaller bladder cause more frequent trips to the bathroom.

Signs That Indicate Your Puppy Wants To Eliminate

Pug puppy on a wood floor

Knowing when your dog wants to eliminate is of immense importance during the house training process. It helps you know when to take your puppy to its designated area of toileting in time and also enables you to minimize, if not prevent, accidents.

Below is a list of some of the signs that most dog breeds will indicate when they want to do their business:

  • sniffing
  • barking
  • walking in circles
  • whining (involves making prolonged and high-pitched sounds)
  • scratching with their paws on a door or anything that might be blocking them

The Dos & Don’ts Of House Training A Puppy

Here are some of the most important things to do and not to do when house training your puppy:


  • strictly follow a regular feeding schedule.
  • observe a diet that doesn’t make your puppy go more often. Also, don’t overfeed your dog as this may cause diarrhea, making its house training complicated and messy.
  • regularly exercise your puppy. This improves its bowel motility, thus helping to prevent constipation that may make it hard for you to know when your dog wants to go.
  • take it to the same spot each time it wants to empty its bowels.
  • give it the same commands when you want it to relieve itself. For example, you can give simple commands like ‘toilet’ or ‘potty’.
  • Praise your dog whenever it eliminates its waste in the designated area. You can give it a bone, walk it around, or clap for it as a way of affirming its behavior.


  • yell or shout at your dog at any time. This not only reinforces negative behavior, but can also make your dog fear you.
  • let your dog eliminate in a spot it previously had an accident. Whenever your pup has an accident, use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the odor completely. Because dogs associate an activity with a scent, they won’t go there again.

How To House Train A Puppy

Bulldog puppy on a cushion

Knowing which ways are effective to house train your puppy can make this daunting task seem manageable. Below are two of the most effective known methods:

1. Utilize a dog crate.

This method involves the use of crates, also known as dogs boxes, to potty train a puppy.

Once a puppy is properly crate trained, it will view its crate as its den or haven; thus, it has no problem spending most of its time inside it. And since dogs naturally have denning instincts, it makes it easier to adapt to living in crates.

Just like most of us, dogs don’t like soiling a place they spend most of their time in. This makes them learn how to control their bladders in an effort to keep where they live clean.

Extra Tip: Ensure that you use a crate large enough for your puppy to discourage it from emptying its bowels inside it. Purchasing an adjustable crate ensures that it will comfortably accommodate your dog as it continues to grow. Also remember not to keep your dog locked in its crate for long periods. Regular walks and exercise are necessary for your puppy’s general health.

Apart from a crate being useful in house training your pup, it can also help you:

  • minimize the damage done by young, untrained dogs
  • make approaching the dog less stressful
  • easily monitor what your dog is doing

2. Use puppy pads.

Puppy pads, also referred to as pee pads or potty pads, are made of layers of absorbent material specifically designed to hold a dog’s excrement.

Ensure that you change your pup’s pee pad at least ten hours after use, or after two or three uses. When buying a puppy pad, look for ones that:

  • have excellent absorbing properties
  • are large enough for your puppy
  • are easy to clean

Some puppy pads are sold in bulk and are meant to be disposable, while some are reusable and machine washable. Both work well, and you can choose either type based on your preference.


Using dog crates or puppy pads as methods to house train your puppy is both practical and easy to implement. Remember that positive associations like giving your dog a treat each time it empties its bowels in its designated area will go a long way in determining how well your dog responds to its training.

If your puppy is not responsive to house training for some reason, it’s recommended that you consult your vet to rule out an underlying medical condition. If there is no medical condition responsible, you may consider engaging the services of a professional.

But professional dog trainers can be extremely expensive at $150/hour or more. Most people can’t afford this cost, especially if it’s something that takes a lot of time to fix.

There’s a solution. At a very reasonable cost, you can get instant access to a dog training program by a certified dog trainer with over a decade of experience working with clients.

This trainer has figured out that common puppy challenges like toilet training, or unwanted behaviours like barking, fundamentally come down to learning how to calm the dog down so it can regain control of its emotions.

And so he’s put together a series of videos, including a special video diary called Project Moses, that will help your puppy develop the life skills needed to be well-trained, to stay focused and to listen to you, despite any distractions.

This dog training package is substantial, it has produced proven results for countless dog owners, and it costs a tiny fraction of what you would pay for the services of a typical dog trainer or behaviorist.

You can alternatively read my review of the program.

Thanks for reading this guide. Do you need to house train your puppy? What has been your experience with house training? Feel free to share in the comment section below!

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