Housebreaking done right the first time can save you from confusion, frustration, and irritation.

Sleep, Potty, then Play.

Housebreaking opinions and suggestions come at you from so many well-meaning family, friends, social media, and self-proclaimed experts that you might be tempted to try something different every day.

What you need is a proven plan that shows you exactly how to schedule your puppy's potty breaks.

Please remember that dogs are not born understanding where people want them to go to the bathroom.

For most of us, housebreaking means that we want our dogs to take care of their needs outside.

But for some dogs, probably the tiny ones, housebreaking means that they learn to use wee-wee pads or a litter box.

Whatever the location you choose as your dog's potty area, you must teach your dog what you expect.

Teaching your dog implies that you will be imparting new information to him.  Keep in mind that dogs are happy to do what you want, so long as they understand your expectations.

Teaching is proactive.

Being proactive when housebreaking a puppy means that you have to plan ahead and foresee problems so that you can prevent them.  For that reason, it's your responsibility to set your puppy up to be successful.

Teaching is not reactive. Reacting after the puppy has already pottied indoors will not teach him to go outside next time.  Punishing after the fact may temporarily relieve your frustration.  But you are overlooking the fact that it was your responsibility to prevent the mistake in the first place.

And it's quite possible that punishment will have an unintended consequence. Punishment may cause your puppy to fear to relieve himself in your presence! Because you punished him for doing just that!

Teach your puppy to let you know when he has to go out by following a schedule. Take him outside on a leash to his potty spot.  Make it easy for him to do what you want.  A schedule makes everything predictable for your puppy so that he learns to wait or tell you when he has to go out.

So don't waste your precious energy on anger or frustration.  It's not fair to blame the dog.  Housebreaking is best accomplished with common sense action and practical planning.

Schedule your puppy's day around three basic activities:

  1. Confinement
  2. Exercise
  3. Supervised Free Play


This is usually in a crate but can be a small gated off space.


After confinement in his crate overnight, take your puppy outside on a leash to the same potty spot every time. If he potties outside, praise generously. If he does not relieve himself after a reasonable time, he must go back into his crate. After 5 or 10 minutes take him out again. Repeat until he potties outside.

Supervised Free Play:

This can be going for a walk or playing off leash in a safely fenced area.  Your puppy can also play inside to play under your supervision.

Always supervise a puppy when he is playing.  A puppy is like a toddler. He can get into trouble if you're not watching him!

When Supervised Play ends, return your puppy to his Confinement place. Time for rest and a nap. Repeat the cycle of three activities throughout the day.

The duration of each activity depends on the time of day and your daily routine. The length of time for each will vary.  But the most important part is cycling the activities in the correct order.  In other words, do not take your puppy out of his crate and let him play without first taking him out to exercise.

Create a Schedule that fits into your daily routine.

Food and Water: Work his meal times into the schedule and remember to take him outside to potty within 30 minutes of eating and drinking.

Keep a written log of your daily routine. After several days you will see patterns that will help you modify the routine to get the best results.

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