Our Program to 100% Housebreak a Puppy
Set a regular feeding schedule
A regular feeding schedule is good for the puppy and good for your sanity. This makes the potty schedule more predictable.
Take away the water bowl after 7 PM
This will help your dog sleep through the night. Your dog may wake you up on the first few nights to go out, but this is the only time you should let the dog out of its crate for making noise.
Designate a potty area outdoors
If you take your dog to the same spot each time it’ll learn to associate the area with going “potty.”
Have a potty command
While it may feel a bit silly, it helps to encourage the dog to do their business. We say to “go potty” at our house.
Know your dog’s bladder:
On average, dogs can hold their bladder an hour per month in age; however, this can vary by breed and size. Here is a helpful breakdown of times:
- 8 to 12 weeks – 2 hours
- 12 to 16 weeks – 3 hours
- 16 to 20 weeks – 4 hours
These maximum hold times only work while in the crate. Out of the crate, frequent potty trips every 20 to 30 minutes help the pup get in the swing of things. As they get in the groove you can extend the break time to every 1 to 2 hours. However, never extend the break time past the following times out of the crate until they are 100% housebroken:
- 8 to 12 weeks – 1 hour
- 12 to 16 weeks – 1.5 hours
- 16 to 20 weeks – 2 hours
Post meal poo:
You’ll want to go out 10 minutes after meal time. Sometimes dogs are on a different rhythm, but this is normally when they are ready to go. If they don’t go within 5 minutes, resume your normal potty break schedule.
Use your dog crate:
The crate is made to be used any time you can’t keep an eye on your dog. Always go straight out to the designated area after any time in the crate. It’s helpful to keep the crate near the exit, so there’s less of a chance the dog has an accident on the way out. Remember crate training isn’t permanent, it’s so the dog can form the right potty habits.
- When you see the dog having an accident say, “no” in a calm, yet firm, voice (flat, low, and just loud enough). The goal here is to startle the dog a bit, and let it know that going inside is not okay. Remember, puppies don’t really know what they’re supposed to do yet, so we’re just providing them with feedback.
- You can calmly show them the potty spot and say “no” once more in a little softer voice this time just to inform them (no need to rub their nose in it).
- Then, quickly take them outside to the potty area and encourage them to finish there. If they pooped there may not be anything left, but it’s worth the exercise.
Use a leash:
When the dog is out of the crate I suggest keeping them on a leash with you. Yes, even inside, because this will allow you to be close by if an accident occurs. All missed accidents are missed opportunities. It is just one more time the dog has learned to go inside without feedback. When taking the dog outside, even if just in the backyard, a leash allows you to be nearby to praise and reward a successful outside potty.
Use a pet enzyme cleaner:
This will keep the odor from luring the dog to go on the same spot again. (Dogs like to go in the same spot which is why the designated spot outside is helpful). We highly recommend Anti Icky Poo. It’s unscented and does a great job.
Every time your dog goes potty outside remember to load on the praise. Use your potty command that you established and lay it on thick! In addition to praise, I suggest bringing out a small treat so there’s a big difference between going potty outside and inside. If your dog likes to play, after they go potty outside is a great time to do a little fetch or tug!
With consistency and patience, you will no longer be stuck stepping in those puddles and piles.