Dog Housebreaking and Crate Training Explained

Tags: Puppy 101, Health

Dog Housebreaking and Crate Training Explained

Dog housebreaking can be one of the most daunting tasks of dog ownership. It takes patience, especially because very young puppies can’t control their bowels or bladder. You should begin housebreaking your puppy as soon as you bring him home.


Very young puppies can’t control their bladders or bowels. A puppy doesn’t gain the ability to “hold it in” until at least 12 weeks of age. Until your puppy reaches this age, you’ll need to practice a solid housebreaking routine to avoid messes in the house.

Learn to watch for the signs that indicate your puppy needs to relieve himself. Your new dog might seem nervous when he needs to go. He’ll begin sniffing around and may even turn in circles. Take your puppy out often; he’ll need to relieve himself about six times each day. You should take him out immediately after he eats or drinks water.

Crate training is a good way to contain the mess of “accidents” inside the house, especially for those who can’t stay home all day with their puppies. Crate training is a good idea because if your dog smells feces or urine inside the house, he’ll think it’s okay to relieve himself in those places, even though he may have done so initially by accident. This is especially true if you’re still in the early stages of dog housetraining. Crate training helps to contain the mess, making it easier to clean up, and can also help your puppy gradually to understand that he shouldn’t relieve himself inside.


There are several methods of dog housebreaking. All can be effective, but only if your dog fully understands what is expected from him. Try not to scold your dog for relieving himself inside unless you catch him in the act. Otherwise, he may not fully connect the act of relieving himself with the consequences.

Your dog wants to please you, it isn’t necessary to use physical violence when training your dog. Your firm, disapproving tone of voice and your displeasure should be all the punishment he needs. Say “No!” then immediately take your dog outside to the place where you’d like him to relieve himself; he may take several minutes to do so. Every time your puppy relieves himself in the appropriate place, praise him profusely.


Crate training is useful for containing the messes made by very young puppies, and can be effective for those who must be at work for hours every day and can’t be home with their dogs. However, leaving your dog alone in a crate all day, then taking him out for only a few hours in the evening before putting him back in at night can be psychologically stressful. Many dogs become neurotic, destructive and chronically unhappy when subjected to this kind of confinement.

If you can’t be home with your dog in the day, find someone to take him for a long walk outside. If that’s not possible, confine your dog to a room with no carpet during the day instead of a crate. Put down some pee pads and give him some toys so he doesn’t get bored.

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