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.




These comments and suggestions are all wonderful..but it really amounts to something great attention to your pup, doing so will help you bond, and he/she will let you know when it is time to go

Karen Brothers

I read somewhere that if a dog poops in the house and you pitch the dog's poop out into their potty area instead of flushing down the toilet, the dog gets the connection that the poop belongs outside. It worked for my dog.


When I first got my Basset puppy, I had no idea on how to potty train her and I asked our vet. He gave me a video on 'bell training'. I didn't think it would work, but it did, and in only 3 days. It's simple to do and very effective. I used a small bell so as not to scare her with a big one.
The trick to this is to use the same door to go outside to the same spot. Ring the bell as you go outside and say 'let's go potty',take the puppy/dog to the same spot, when they start to go, ring bell and give tons of praise!! Hang the bell on the door as soon as you start training and before long your little buddy will start telling you when they want to go potty.
I know it sounds crazy, but it does work. like I said before, I trained my Basset puppy in only 3 days and that is a great feat for a breed that is known for being the most stubborn of all breeds!! Good luck!!


I rescued a German Shepherd that was about 1 year old that had no training of being a indoor dog living with cats. She was tied to a palm tree outside in the desert heat in July when I first saw her on my rescue. I potty trained her like you noted above. Now she rings the bell that I have tied to my back door when she needs to go out to potty. I walk with her outside to the side of our house and she does her #1 and #2 on the rocks. I always have a doggie potty bag in hand and a wet wipe to wipe off her private areas and paws before going back into the house. Its clockwork. She goes on time everyday :) She is a smart girl :) So blessed to have Dakota in our lives :)


I have Dachshunds which are notoriously hard to house break. My youngest, not quite a year, is finally trained, a statement I make with my fingers crossed. It took him 10 1/2 months. I think that I erred by taking out too often. He quickly understood that he was to do his business; he took a really long time to understand that he was to do it ONLY outside. Because I took out so often, he was able to go as soon as the urge came to him; he never had to associate wanting to go with waiting to go until he was outside. My next Dachshund puppy will be taken out at longer intervals as she ages, and I'll see how that works.


I trained my cocker to go out side in 2mo. since then she has only had 2 accidents that was when she was sick and had the runs. I did it by taking her out every hour then we moved it up to every 2 hrs. and so on I NEVER with held water from her that is mean. How would you like to only get a drink several times a day. If you do not have time to spend with your pup you will not have time for them later when they grow up.

Bob 'Hawkeye' Carr

What about 'crate training'

Doggies do learn that they don't want to 'mess' on themselves.

Of course, this still requires attention to the dog, not just ones' convenience.

It has worked for me


I'm an old guy and I'm on dog #8. You're right. Never rub their face in it. You want the trick? It takes about 3 days. Take a day off.

When a puppy goes asleep and wakes up, it needs to go out. When a puppy is playing after being calm, it needs to go out. If you see them start to squat it needs to go out. Any change from calm to exciting and it needs to go out. Any change from excited to quiet and it needs to go out.

You need 72 hours of having the puppy tied to you or briefly crated. If the puppy understands that it needs to go out, it will start asking. It does take 3 entire 24 hour periods of your time and positive reinforcement. Just say "Good baby" and pat them on the head.

Honest. 3 days and you'll never have a mess unless they are sick or something. Try it, you'll like it.


This is the way mama dogs teach puppies not to crap in the den. My last 4 puppies never made a mess, asked to go out and it's great. It does take 3 days of honest effort.


Oh, and puppies like singing.