House Training a Puppy: What You Should Know

Key takeaway

Read this to learn best practices for house training your puppy. To properly house train your puppy, you should create a routine, leash your puppy, help them focus on the task, offer play time, reward them, and feed them on a regular schedule. 

 

Getting a new puppy is a very exciting adventure. You have an adorable animal to wake up to every morning and spend all your time with. 

However, as much joy and love a puppy brings, your new furry family member can also bring a lot of work. You don’t realize just how much patience and dedication house training a puppy is until you’re woken up throughout the night to a whining pup who needs to pee. House training a puppy is undeniably difficult, but with enough patience and consistency, you’ll end up with a well trained pup and a loving bond.

The more prepared you are, the easier this process will be. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a guide with everything you need to know about how to house train a puppy.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the steps you should take to house train a puppy, how often you should take your pup outside while house training them, and other frequently asked questions.

How to House Train a Puppy

When it comes to house training a puppy, it’s important to realize that they’re not going to be perfectly trained overnight. It’s going to take time and effort before you can confidently say that your dog is house trained. 

How long does it take to house train a puppy, you ask? It can take anywhere from 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but it can take certain dogs up to a year. The breed of your dog will have an impact on their house training ability. For example, smaller dogs typically have smaller bladders, so they will need to be brought outside more frequently than bigger dogs. 

Your dog’s previous living conditions can also have an impact on their habits and how often they need to pee. These are all important factors to take into consideration when preparing to house train your puppy.

You don’t need to start house training your puppy as soon as they walk through the door. You can begin your house training journey when your dog is around 12 to 16 weeks old, as this gives them enough time to gain some control of their bladder and bowel movements.

A lot goes into house training a puppy. Being a dog owner is not an easy task, but it’s incredibly rewarding if you do it right. Below, we’ll discuss the best way to house train a puppy and the steps you need to take:

1. Create a routine

First and foremost: you need to create a routine. Just like humans, puppies thrive on regular, consistent schedules. This includes their feeding, playing, and bathroom schedules. House training your pup means getting them into the routine of things.

As a good rule of thumb, a puppy can typically hold their bladder one hour for every month of age. For example, if your dog is 3 months old, that means they can hold their bladder for 3 hours. This is important to know when creating the routine for your pup. Try to stick to this schedule or else you run the risk of them having an accident. 

 As you create your house training routine, keep these facets in mind:

  • Take your puppy outside/to their pee pad frequently: Puppies have small bladders! They’re going to need to pee more than older dogs.
  • Pick a particular spot: Choose a single area for your puppy to urinate/defecate. When you take them to go potty, take them to that spot every time. This instills in their minds that this is the only location where they can go to the bathroom and avoids the risk of them having an accident inside your house.

2. Leash your puppy

When you bring your pup outside to go to the bathroom, always put them on a leash. Using a leash can be beneficial; it helps your puppy learn it’s okay to potty on walks, which will be helpful as they age. 

Putting your dog on a leash when they’re being potty trained will also help them get comfortable with leashes, which is important for dogs for obvious reasons. A leash  keeps your dog close to you at all times so you can keep an eye on them. Leashing your pup also helps keep them from being distracted by other animals and outside commotion so they can focus on going to the bathroom.

3. Help your puppy focus on the task at hand

While your puppy is doing their business outside, let them be. Keep an eye on your puppy quietly; don’t interact with them, as this will help them potty faster. Wait until your puppy has finished eliminating his or her waste completely before engaging with them whatsoever.
It’s important to stay with your puppy while they’re outside, but don’t stay on top of them. They need to learn how to be able to do their business by themselves.

Puppy in grass

4. Offer play time

A crucial part of raising a puppy is playing with them. This includes right after they use the bathroom. Don’t confine after a potty break, offer play time. 

During playtime, they should be taken off the leash so they can run around and have fun. Bringing your dog back inside right after they use the bathroom shows that potty ends their fun. Giving them playtime right after shows them that going potty leads to fun. This will help train your dog to use the bathroom frequently and on schedule because they know that going to the bathroom means playtime will follow.

5. Reward your puppy for going potty outside

Similarly to playing with your pup after they go potty, it’s equally important to reward them. Praise your dog or provide them with treats immediately after they’ve finished going to the bathroom, and not after you come inside.

Rewarding your dog after going to the bathroom outside is crucial as it teaches them what is expected of them. They know that treats will follow, which will make them more inclined to always go outside to use the bathroom. Rewards can either be verbal praise, treats, or their favorite toy.

6. Feed your puppy on a regular schedule

Just like how it’s important for your dog to use the bathroom on a regular schedule, it’s also important that they’re fed on a regular schedule. Feeding your puppy at specific times each day will increase the likelihood they eliminate at regular times throughout the day.

Puppies are typically fed twice a day, but this will differ depending on how old your dog is. Regardless of how often you feed them, just make sure you do it at the same time every single day. 

How often should I take my puppy outside while house training?

Every 30 minutes, take your puppy to the potty area. Additionally, consider taking your puppy outside at these common potty times:

  • After eating or drinking
  • After 10 minutes of vigorous play
  • Right after they wake up from a nap

House Training a Puppy: Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the average puppy take to house train?

House training looks different for every dog. But on average, it takes a puppy between 4-6 months to fully be house trained. The size of your dog can impact how long house training will take, as smaller dogs tend to have smaller bladders.

If you have an anxious dog, it may take longer to house train them. Puppy separation anxiety is a very real thing, and it can cause your dog to pee in the house even after they’ve been potty trained. In addition to frequent urination, a dog chewing paws is often another sign of anxiety. 

Certain dog breeds are more prone to anxiety than others. Some anxious dog breeds include wheaten terriers, Spanish water dogs, Shetland sheepdogs, and miniature schnauzers; however, any breed of dog can experience anxiety. When house training your puppy, it’s important to take note of any signs of anxiety, as it may hinder their training abilities. 

Can a 12 week old puppy be potty trained?

Yes, the ideal time to start house training a puppy is when they are between 12-16 weeks old. Puppies younger than 12 weeks will likely need to be taken out to use the bathroom more frequently, so it’s best to wait until a dog is at least 12 weeks old so they can gain some control of their bladder before you start house training them.

puppy chewing bars of crate looking out open door

How do you punish a puppy for peeing in the house?

Of course, having your puppy pee inside your house is frustrating. But that doesn’t mean you should punish them. They are a puppy after all, they’re still learning where and when to pee! 

If you find that your pup peed inside, just quickly clean it up and get back to your training schedule. Punishing them will only make them scared, which can cause them to eliminate more out of fear.

Should I carry my puppy out to pee?

If your puppy is very small, carrying them outside to pee is a good idea. Carrying them outside will discourage them from peeing inside and teach them to wait until they get outside to go to the bathroom. However, carrying your dog is not necessary in all cases. For slightly older or bigger dogs, they should be able to go outside by themselves. You don’t want to teach your dog that you will always carry them outside.

Final Notes

Having a puppy is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. Having a dog is like having constant companionship, but in order to have that loving bond between you and your pup, you need to house train them properly.

Having a dog entails a lot more than just house training them. Dogs can suffer from a myriad of health complications, so it’s important to bring your dog to the vet if you think they may be sick. Don’t have the time in your schedule to physically bring your dog to the vet? No worries, that’s where Dutch comes into play.

Dutch is a telehealth service for pets that allows pet owners to connect with licensed veterinarians right from the comfort of their home. With Dutch, you can get access to healthcare for your dog and get prescribed the medication and care they need.

Here at Dutch, we believe that every pet deserves access to the care they need, and that’s why we're here to help all pet owners achieve just that.

References

  1. House Training Your Dog, Brown,  https://www.brown.edu/Research/Colwill_Lab/CBP/Housetraining.html