Housetraining Your Young Puppy

Information from Perfect Paws, Inc.

What To Expect

Unless you can monitor your puppy 24 hours a day, don't expect your puppy to be completely housetrained until he is at least 9 months old. It's normal for young pups to be little 'input-output' machines. Since they are growing and developing rapidly at this stage, they eat more food, burn up more energy and seem to need to eliminate constantly! They also have not yet developed bowel and bladder control, so they can't 'hold it' as long as adult dogs.

When You Are Not Home

Confine your puppy to a small, 'puppy-proofed' room and paper the entire floor. Put his bed, toys and food/water bowls there. At first there will be no rhyme or reason to where your pup eliminates. He will go every where and any where. He will also probably play with the papers, chew on them, and drag them around his little den. Most puppies do this and you just have to live with it. Don't get upset, just accept it as life with a young puppy. The important thing is that when you get home, clean up the mess and lay down fresh papers.

Passive Training

While your puppy is confined, he is developing a habit of eliminating on paper because no matter where he goes, it will be on paper. As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred place to do his business. When this place is well established and the rest of the papers remain clean all day, then gradually reduce the area that is papered. Start removing the paper that is furthest away from his chosen location. Eventually you will only need to leave a few sheets down in that area only. If he ever misses the paper, then you've reduced the area too soon. Go back to papering a larger area or even the entire room. Once your pup is reliably going only on the papers you've left, then you can slowly and gradually move his papers to a location of your choice. Move the papers only an inch a day. If he misses the paper again, then you're moving too fast. Go back a few steps and start over. Don't be discouraged if your puppy seems to be making remarkable progress and then suddenly you have to return to papering the entire room. This is normal. There will always be minor set-backs. If you stick with this procedure, your puppy will be papertrained.

When You Are Home

When you are home but can't attend to your puppy, follow the same procedures described above. But the more time you spend with your pup, the quicker he will be housetrained.Your objective is to take your puppy to his toilet area every time he needs to eliminate. This should be about once every 45 minutes; just after a play session; just after eating or drinking; and just upon waking. When he does eliminate in his toilet area, praise and reward him profusely and enthusiastically! Don't use any type of reprimand or punishment for mistakes or accidents. Your puppy is too young to understand and it can set the housetraining process back drastically.Don't allow your puppy freedom outside of his room unless you know absolutely for sure that his bladder and bowels are completely empty. When you do let him out, don't let him out of your sight. It is a good idea to have him on leash when he is exploring your home. He can't get into trouble if you are attached to the other end of the leash.Every 30 minutes return your pup to his toilet area. As your puppy becomes more reliable about using his toilet area and his bowel and bladder control develops, he can begin to spend more time outside his room with you in the rest of your home. Begin by giving him access to one room at a time. Let him eat, sleep and play in this room but only when he can be supervised. When you cannot supervise him, put him back in his room.

Active Training

The most important thing you can do to make housetraining happen as quickly as possible is to reward and praise your puppy every time he goes in the right place. The more times he is rewarded, the quicker he will learn. Therefore it's important that you spend as much time as possible with your pup and give him regular and frequent access to his toilet area.

Key to Success

  • Consistancy and Patience.
  • Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents.
  • The older your pup gets, the more he will be able to control his bladder and bowels.
  • Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to "hold it" for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually develop.
  • Don't forget, most puppies are not reliably housetrained until they are 9 months old.

Housetraining Your Young Puppy ( Do's & Dont's )

Perfect Paws, Inc.

If you allow your puppy to eliminate everywhere and anywhere he wants in your home, you will end up with an adult dog who will always have a tendency to want to eliminate in your home. You will have to live with it forever, or go through some time-consuming, tedious retraining later on. A dog is either housetrained or it isn't. There is no such thing as weekly 'accidents.' A truly housetrained dog will NEVER eliminate in your house unless forced to do so or because of illness. Don't expect your puppy to be reliably housetrained until it is at least 6 months old. Your puppy's early toilet habits are critical.


  • Provide constant access to the toilet area. If you are home, take your puppy there every 45 minutes. If you are not home or cannot tend to the puppy, then you must make sure he cannot make a mistake. It's actually not really a mistake because he doesn't know any better. With young puppies, when the urge comes, they go - it usually doesn't matter where they are or what they are doing. If we didn't put diapers on human babies, they too would be soiling our carpets and floors.
  • Confine your puppy to a dog-proofed area and line the entire floor with papers. If the weather is nice, the area safe, etc, you can confine the pup to a small pen outside. Don't leave your pup out in the sun, wind, heat or cold.
  • Be sure to provide shelter and water in the confinement area. It's ideal if the pen is set up on dirt, grass, gravel or concrete. The idea is that no matter where the puppy eliminates while confined, it is on something that resembles his toilet area. Your goal is to never allow your puppy to eliminate on carpet, tile, hardwood, or anything that resembles the flooring in your home. Once a habit is established, it is difficult to break, therefore, do not let your pup form bad habits in the first place.
  • Praise and reward your puppy each and everytime possible for eliminating in his toilet area.
  • Feed your puppy at regular times. What goes in on schedule will come out on schedule.
  • Use a crate to help your puppy develop self control. Confine him for gradually increasing periods of time when you are home to monitor him.
  • Be patient. It can take until the dog is 6 months old for him to be housetrained.


  • Do not reprimand your puppy for mistakes. Reprimand has no place in housetraining.
  • Do not leave food and water out all day and night for your puppy to eat and drink at whim. Use some common sense here. Obviously if the weather is hot, it is appropriate to give the pup access to water, but if this is the case, then you need to be more alert to the possibility of the pup needing to urinate more frequently.
  • Do not allow your pup to eliminate anywhere other than his toilet area.
  • Do not give your puppy free unattended run of your house.