House Training

Bathroom Frequency

From the outset you want to stay on top of your puppy’s bathroom habits. A young puppy will need to go to the bathroom as often as every 20 to 30 minutes. After every activity such as training, playing, or a chew session, your puppy may very likely need to eliminate. Be sure to get him outside directly. Your puppy will need to pee as quickly as 5 to 10 minutes after drinking.

Teaching Your Puppy to ‘Hold It’

An important component in training your puppy is to ensure that he learns to go to the bathroom outside the house and that he begins the gradual process of ‘holding it’ for slightly longer periods each week, until he can hold it for a full eight hours.

The following is a schedule that is intended to help you decide the progress your puppy should be making as he grows into adulthood. It is also a schedule that will help you determine when to increase the amount of time you can leave your puppy as he begins to grow. It is meant only as a guideline to help you set goals. The times are approximate and can vary depending on the size and breed of your dog.

Table: How long your puppy can ‘hold it’?

These times are approximate and can change depending on the size and breed of your dog.

Puppy’s Age Time Between Bathroom Visits
2 months 2 hours
3 months 4 hours
4 months 5 hours
5 months 6 hours
6 months 7 hours
7 months 8 hours

Control food and water consumption prior to putting your pup in the crate.

Stick to the same schedule on the weekend that you use during the week.


Elimination on Cue

For the first few months you will be spending a lot of time outside waiting for your pup to go. If you are interested in maximizing this time, you could work on conditioning your dog to eliminate on cue. It is rather predictable that after your puppy has been in the crate for any given period of time he will have to go. Knowing this, you can “set up” a conditioned response to a regularly used phrase to get him to go.

Here is how it works:
  • Begin by coming up with trigger words for what you would like to ask your dog to do.
  • Popular trigger words include “hurry up” or “show me.”
  • Once you have settled on what you are comfortable using as a cue (don’t forget you may end up using this cue in a public place!), then you are ready to begin.
  • Every time you take your puppy outside be sure that he is on a leash. This ensures that he is under control and must stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Go outside to the area that is deemed the bathroom spot.
  • Let the pup sniff and investigate the area.
  • When you see the pup getting ready to eliminate use your trigger word. Coax the pup.
  • Once the pup has eliminated, you can offer him a treat and praise him.

Every time your puppy comes out of his crate, he should go outside to go to the bathroom. With consistency you will have your pup going on cue for you in no time. This trick is especially nice for cold and rainy days and nights or when you are on your way out the door and running late.

Accidents Will Happen

In the event that your puppy has an accident in the house and you are not present, there is nothing that you can do. Forget about it and chalk it up as your mistake, not the puppy’s.

If you witness an accident, quickly pick up the pup and take him outside. If he continues on with his business once you are out, praise him. If he does not, you can coax him with your trigger word (see Elimination on Cue, above).

Be sure to go back inside and clean the area that the puppy has eliminated in with a cleaner that actually breaks down enzymes. Many cleaners mask the smell from us but not from the powerful olfactory senses of our dogs. Ask your local pet supply dealer about a good cleaner.


Puppy-Proof Your House

One last word. Although we are very adamant about 100% supervision, we know that there will be the odd oversight. You want to be sure that if for whatever reason your puppy has escaped your notice and is roaming the house unattended, he does not come to harm. In much the same way that new parents safety-proof their home when a new child comes, you should do the same for your puppy.

You want to be sure that if for whatever reason your puppy has escaped your notice and is roaming the house unattended, he does not come to harm.

Get on your hands and knees and ensure that there is nothing toxic or dangerous within reach of your puppy’s mouth. It is not uncommon for dogs to chew anything and everything. They do not discriminate between what could be safe and harmful to them.