Tips for Housetraining Puppies and Dogs


As with most things in life, there are hard ways and there are easy ways to get things done. Rubbing a puppy's nose in a mess is an inappropriate way to housetrain. Using ample amounts of supervision and positive reinforcement is the easy way.


The first course of action in housetraining is to promote the desired behavior. You need to:
  • Designate an appropriate elimination area
  • Frequently guide your yorkie there to do its potty business
  • Heartily praise the dog when it eliminates
By occasionally giving a food reward immediately after your yorkie finishes, you can encourage it to eliminate in the desired area. The odor left from previous visits to that area would quickly mark it as the place for the yorkie to do his business. If the puppy makes a mistake and eliminates on the floor blot it up with a paper towel, and then place the wet paper towel on the potty pad. At my home all puppies are left with the mother till the age of 12 weeks, this makes housetraining so much easier. The puppies see the mother using the potty pad and learn this is the place to eliminate. 


Puppies should be encouraged to use the potty pad
  • After waking in the morning
  • After naps
  • After meals
  • After playing or training
  • After being left alone
  • Immediately before being put to bed

To avoid spending a lot of time waiting for your puppy to get the job done, you may want to teach it to eliminate on command. Each time the puppy is in the act of eliminating, simply repeat a unique command, such as "hurry up" or "potty",” be a big yorkie”, in an upbeat tone of voice. After a few weeks of training, you will notice that when you say the command your puppy will begin pre-elimination sniffing, circling, and then eliminate shortly after you give the command. Be sure to praise the puppy for accomplishments.


Most puppies will eliminate within an hour after eating. Once you take control of your puppy's feeding schedule, you will have some control over when it needs to eliminate.
  • Schedule your puppy's dinner times so that you will be available to take it to the potty pad or outside after eating.
  • Avoid giving your puppy a large meal just prior to confining it or the puppy may have to eliminate when you are not around to take it to the potty pad. Schedule feeding two to three times daily on a consistent schedule.
  • The last feeding of the day should be completed several hours before it is confined for the night. By controlling the feeding schedules, exercise sessions, confinement periods, and to the elimination area, your puppy will quickly develop a reliable schedule for eliminating.

Training a puppy to be comfortable in a crate is a popular way to provide safe confinement during housetraining. The majority of puppies will rapidly accept crate confinement when you make the introduction fun. Since it is important to associate favorable things with the area where your puppy is confined, it is a good idea to play with it there, or simply spend some time reading or watching television nearby as the puppy relaxes with a favorite chew toy. If the puppy is only in the area when you leave, it becomes a social isolation area that it eventually may resist entering.

A good time to start crate training is at dinnertime. Feed your puppy its dinner in the crate. My yorkies love their crates I leave them with the door open it is a favorite place to take a nap or cuddle with a toy. 

You should not use the crate for periods that exceed the length of time the puppy can actually control the urge to urinate or defecate. If you are gone for long periods each day, you will need to provide a larger confinement area. You may want to consider using an exercise pen or small room. Baby gates are wonderful to keep a puppy in a room that has a hard surface floor no carpet if the puppy makes a mistake you want the floor easy to clean up.


Left on its own, the untrained puppy is very likely to make a mistake. Never give the puppy full run of your home until you are sure it is housetrained. Close supervision is a very important part of training. Do not consider your puppy housetrained until it has gone at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the wrong place. For older dogs, this period should be even longer. Until then:
  • Your puppy should constantly be within eyesight
  • Baby gates can be helpful to control movement throughout the house and to aid supervision
  • Keep them in the crate, exercise pen or a room with vinyl when unsupervised. When you are away from home, sleeping, or if you are just too busy to closely monitor your pet's activities, confine it to a small, safe area in the home.

Urine and fecal odor should be thoroughly removed to keep your dog from returning to areas of the home where it made a mess.
  • Be sure to use a good commercial product manufactured specifically to clean up doggy odors. Follow the manufacturer recommendations for usage. On vinyl I use white vinegar and water mixed half-and-half in a spray bottle to clean up mistakes.
  • If a carpeted area has been soaked with urine, be sure to saturate it with the clean up product and not merely spray the surface.
  • Rooms in the home where your dog has had frequent mistakes should be closed off for several months. The puppy should only be allowed to enter when accompanied by a family member.

It is a rare dog or puppy that can be housetrained without making an occasional mess, so you need to be ready to handle the inevitable problems.
  • Do not rely on harsh punishment to correct mistakes. This approach usually does not work, and may actually delay training.
  • An appropriate correction consists of simply providing a moderate, startling distraction. You should only do this when you see your dog in the act of eliminating in the wrong place.
  • A sharp noise, such as a loud "No" or a quick stomp on the floor, is all that is usually needed to stop the behavior. Just do not be too loud or your pet may learn to avoid eliminating in front of you.
  • Do not continue to scold or correct your dog after it has stopped soiling. When it stops, quickly take the puppy to the potty pad so that it will finish in the appropriate area and be praised.
  • Never rub your dog's nose in a mess. There is absolutely no way this will help training, and may actually make the puppy afraid of you.

The basic principles of housetraining are pretty simple, but a fair amount of patience is required. The most challenging part is always keeping an eye on your active dog or puppy. If you maintain control, take your dog to the potty pad frequently, and consistently praise the desirable behavior, soon you should have a house trained canine companion.

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