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How to Housebreak Your Puppy for Beginners

Who doesn’t love cute little puppies? I mean, c’mon, look at this darling little guy:

Cute as he is, you will start to feel a bit differently towards him after a few weeks if you don’t get the housebreaking done ASAP!

Over the last few years, I’ve heard friends and acquaintances talk about their difficulties with housebreaking their puppies. I’ve always found it very easy if you follow a few easy steps:

1. Buy a Cage Before You Buy the Dog!

As you’ll see, there are several key steps to housebreaking your dog, but if you were to boil it down to one thing, this would be it. Make sure you buy a cage or pen at your local pet store before you get your dog. They make all sizes, and you can even pick up a used one for $20 or so if cost is a problem.

A dog cage or pen is your 2nd best friend, after your dog

Your housebreaking ordeal will become much easier if you cage your puppy when you cannot watch him, and when he goes to bed.

The reason this works is that dogs have many instincts and a big one is to never soil his bed. The last thing he wants to do is make a mess where he sleeps. So by all means, take full advantage of this instinct!

The cage is where your dog should sleep at night, and where he should be when you cannot watch him. He will never soil his bed. You have to make sure you take him out to the bathroom every 3-4 hours though. It is cruel to leave a young puppy all day or night without going outside.

Putting the puppy in the cage when you can’t watch him also is a good way to prevent him from chewing on things he shouldn’t.

During the housebreaking stage, you have to be trained, too: You must put the dog in the cage when you cannot watch him. Otherwise, accidents and mayhem will result!

2. Get Your Dog Acclimated to the Cage, Make It His Home

When you first get your puppy, introduce him slowly to the cage. Make it very comfy with some nice blankets and a favorite toy. Some people like to put a hot water bottle in with him to help him go to sleep.

You should not close your puppy in the cage right away for the night. Let him get used to it over a few hours. Then put him in the cage at night for a few hours once he already is asleep.

You need to make the puppy feel like his cage is his home. Leave it open when he is not in it. He will start to go in there on his own to go to sleep. The fact is, there is nothing remotely cruel about having a cage for your puppy. As long as you use it as his little home, not as punishment, he’ll actually like it.

Yes, he may cry some the first night or two, but usually this abates after a few days. You should get up to let him out every few hours. He should not spend a full night in the cage until he is at least half-grown.

Our Labrador Retriever has always loved her cage. She goes in there to sleep, to chew on a bone, and just to lie down. She sees it as her ‘cave.’

Be sure to wash and dry the blankets in the cage every month or so, as they tend to get dirty.

3. Don’t Wait For Your Puppy to Have to Pee or Poop

It always seems strange to hear about people’s puppies peeing all over the house. There is a very easy way to avoid most accidents – pre-empt your puppy! Don’t wait for him to go.

As soon as he gets up in the morning, and as soon as he eats (very important!), take him outside to pee and poop. Dogs usually want to defecate after they eat, so this is really critical. If you take care of your pup’s needs before he does, he will get the idea very quickly: Indoors is not the place to ‘do his business.’

In addition, you should just take your puppy outside several times per day. Don’t wait for him to make a mess. It’s amazing how fast puppies get the idea when you train them in this way.

By taking him out in this fashion, you should never need to worry about putting newspapers and other paper products around the house to prevent accidents. You can skip that step entirely by training your puppy this way.

4. Always Take Him Out From the Same Door

Dogs are really creatures of habit. They love getting into a routine. Remember – a smart dog has the mental capacity of a 4-5 year-old child. You need to make sure you keep things simple and consistent, just as you do for a young child. Always take him out from the same door. This way he knows the routine and he knows where to sit when he needs to go. If you take him out several different ways, it can get confusing.


If you follow the steps above, you will be surprised how quickly your dog is housebroken. And with few accidents! I do not recall more than a handful of accidents with our Lab when I trained her five years ago.

After your dog is mostly grown and housebroken, you can usually put the cage away, as it is no longer needed.



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