Housebreaking Dos and Don’ts


Supervision and Confinement

  • Don’t let your unhousebroken dog roam freely around your house.
  • Do supervise your dog closely until you’re sure he’s reliably housebroken.
  • Do confine your dog in an area where he won’t have accidents when you’re not there to keep an eye on him.
  • Don’t leave your dog confined so long that he’s forced to go potty in his crate or confinement area.
  • Do take your dog’s age, amount of experience with confinement and feeding schedule into consideration when deciding how long he can be confined while he’s on a housebreaking program.
  • Do recruit a friend or hire a dog walker to take your dog out for a potty trip if your work schedule requires you to leave your dog alone for a longer period of time than he can handle.

Reward and Correction

  • Do praise your dog every time he potties in the right place
  • Don’t correct your dog for having an accident in the house unless you catch him in the act.
  • Don’t correct your dog too harshly (rubbing his nose in it, hitting him, etc.), even if you catch him in the act.
  • Do correct your dog with a strong "NO" if you catch him going potty inside, then quickly get him outside so he can finish up in the right place.

Keeping It Clean

  • Do clean up any mistakes properly so that he doesn’t come back to the scent and make another mistake later.
  • Don’t clean your dog’s housebreaking accidents up with regular household cleaner.
  • Do clean up with an odor neutralizing product specifically formulated for pet accidents, available at any pet store.

Work With Your Family

  • Don’t assume that the dog has been outside (or to his indoor potty area) for a potty trip just because other members of your household have been home with him.
  • Do be sure that all members of the house communicate verbally or through a written potty schedule so you’re sure that your dog is getting outside (or to his indoor potty area) regularly.

Taking Your Dog Out

  • Don’t assume that your dog has gone potty just because he’s been outside (or to his indoor potty area).
  • Do accompany your dog outside (or to his indoor potty area) or watch through a window to be sure he goes.
  • Don’t decide that your dog doesn’t need to go if it doesn’t happen right away.
  • Do remember that many dogs need to move a bit before they poo. They may not be ready to go immediately out of the crate, and then have to go 15 minutes later.
  • Do watch your dog carefully and learn to recognize his patterns.
  • Don’t expect your young puppy to be on the same housebreaking schedule as your older dog.
  • Do remember that puppies potty very frequently, especially upon waking and after running, chewing, eating, drinking and playing.
  • Do be sure to give your dog plenty of chances to go in the right place.

Food and Water

  • Don’t have too much variety in your dog’s diet during the housetraining period, since feeding new foods or table scraps can cause digestive upset and slow down your housebreaking program.
  • Do be sure you’re feeding your dog a consistent, healthy diet.
  • Do be sure you’re feeding your dog the correct amount of dog food, since overfeeding can cause loose stools that are harder for your dog to control.
  • Don’t feed your dog a big meal or give him a large amount of water right before you leave the house for an extended period of time or right before going to bed.
  • Do be sure to have a regular feeding routine for your dog that fits in with your daily schedule.

Back to Articles index