House Training Dos and Don’ts

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:45pm
Brindle and white puppy with red collar on

You’ve brought a new dog into your home—congratulations! Now comes your first dog-training challenge: house training.

House training is not an exact science—there’s no sure-fire formula or timetable that will work for every dog. The important thing is to make it a positive, not a stressful, experience. Being attentive, patient and consistent are the keys to success, along with the following dos and don’ts:

Do: Closely supervise your dog. Limit the dog’s run of the house to the one or two rooms where you are able to see her at all times. Dogs usually show “pre-pottying” behavior such as sniffing, circling and walking with stiff back legs; all signs that you should get her to the potty area ASAP! As the training begins to take hold, you can slowly enlarge her territory as she learns where the potty area is—and that the house is not a toilet!

Don’t: Yell at or spank a dog for a mess she made earlier. If you catch her in the act, it’s okay to startle her by clapping or making a noise (hopefully this will stop her long enough for you to whisk her outside). But a dog will not learn anything by being scolded for a past accident, even one a few minutes old. Just clean it up and soldier on.

Do: Offer big, enthusiastic praise when she gets it right. Whether your goal is for your dog to eliminate on pee pads indoors or to do it outside, you have to really throw a party for her when she succeeds. Lavish her with praise, affection and some yummy treats!

Don’t: Rub her face in it. Ever!!! In addition to this action making your dog fear you, she’s incapable of making the connection that it’s the act of soiling indoors you object to—to her, you just really hate pee and poop. If she thinks that the waste itself is what you dislike, she’ll only get sneakier about hiding it from you.

For more detailed advice on house training specific to your pet, please visit our Virtual Pet Behaviorist articles on Weekend Crate Training, House Training Your Puppy, House Training Your Adult Dog or House Training Your Puppy Mill Dog.




Had a friend that would grab up the pup as soon as she saw it have an accident and take it outside. She actually taught the pup that if she wanted to go outside to play, just poop on the floor and you get to go out. It took many weeks to teach the poor little puppy that outside was for pooping. She did that by saving every accident and putting them outside in the spot where she wanted the pup to go. The pup finally figured it out.

Maggie Frazier

I got a chuckle out of the training of the puppy.
And sometimes its easy to get the response you don't want. I have made such a habit of walking my dog am & pm that she now feels the only time to do her thing is out back in the field near the woods. NOT on her run! At least I don't have much cleanup to do.


That is unfortunate in that your dog is obviously "holding" it until she feels she can't go in her run where she is locked up (for how long a period at a time)?

Bill W

My wife and I foster rescue puppies, and we've found that the absolute gold standard for potty training is to associate pooping outside with a command (like "Go Potty") and rewards. We had a heck of a time figuring this out with our own two dogs, but our most recent foster would not only ring a bell by the door when she needed to go outside, but if we were going to bed and sending the dogs out for a business trip, she'd go on command (while our other two knuckleheads chased each other around the yard).

We've also seen some good results with associating it with walks, but instead of taking your dog out and then returning home as soon as business is completed, don't leave your yard until your dog poops, then reward him/her with a walk.


I foster rescued puppies also. One thing I've found is to keep giving the command, "Go Potty" (or some prefer "Do your business"), AS the pup is "going." Don't give praise AS the pup is going, because "Good Dog!" or whatever may be associated with the command to go. They get praise and sometimes a treat as well, but only when they're finished, especially when they come to me as well!
If a pup will or won't go outside, and then consistently comes back in and pees in the house, need to be certain there's not an infection or some other medical condition. I also paper train, but some don't. Two people I know who travel a great deal with their dogs, have trained them to use the "pads." Whether in an airport, or going into a facility for therapy work, they both say they there may not be any place for the dog to "go," so they put down the pad in a remote corner, give the command, and it's done!


I agree with Bill the "party" or in his case walks don't happen until you do your business. We have 3/4 of an acre fenced in and dog sit/ board as many as 8 dogs at a time. We all go out many times a day, but some of the younger dogs start playing then "forget" to go. So if anyone is having accidents in the house they go out on a leash and walk around the general potty area. Once they go we start the party. BTW is say "hurry up" instead of "go potty". Since they are not people I don't think they get a shy bladder under pressure :-)


I always have water in the crates with my puppies. I actually use crates that are bigger and do not use dividers to make the crate smaller. If a pup has to go, a pup has to go. Puppies need water to help digest their food and if I recall from other readings they should always have access to water. You have to just take them out to potty before you leave. I put towels in the crate and if they pee before I get back, I just wash the towels. I have had no problems house training or crate training.


Note: This was suppose to go under Cathie Carroll's comments below regarding the "NO" food or water in crates.


"Hurry up" was the first thing out of my mouth when I starting training our last puppy to do her business outside. It stuck. She's now 12 years old, and still responds to the command each time.
For a while, I was a little embarrassed that someone would hear me say "hurry up" and think I was trying to get her to pee or poop faster. Then I realized that the command got the job done, and she got praised when she was successful. Heck, the dog doesn't know what the words mean. If other people don't like the words, the heck with 'em. :-)


Donna: that is hilarious! That's how my sister's dog, Lucy, learned that "Hurry up" means "Go pee." lol