How to Housetrain Your Dog

Learn housetraining 101 and get the basics of housetraining puppies, step by step.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #96

In earlier articles, I’ve talked about how you can undermine your dog’s housetraining, and also about indoor elimination that doesn’t reflect incomplete housetraining. But somehow I’ve never done that basic, from scratch, just-brought-my-doggy-home housetraining piece. Well, here it is.

How to Housetrain Your Dog

Good news: Housetraining is simple, really it is. Two rules cover it:

  1. Make sure your pupil has plenty of appropriately timed opportunities to eliminate in the right place.

  2. Supervise and/or confine your pupil in between toilet outings, so that she doesn’t have a chance to eliminate in the wrong place.

How to Tell When a Puppy Needs to Go

Here’s what the rules mean in practical terms. Very young puppies have almost no voluntary control over their bladder and bowel muscles; basically, by the time they feel the urge to go, they have gone. That means you need to get your puppy to the toilet area fast and often. For a 9-week-old, that can be every waking hour, plus the following:

  • immediately on waking in the morning or after a nap

  • after a few minutes of playing or chewing

  • a few minutes after eating or drinking

  • whenever there’s any excitement

  • whenever you catch them circling, sniffing the floor, or generally acting restless


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).