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

Ten minutes at large is a good starting point; when time’s up, either bring your puppy to his elimination spot again (Has he eaten, drunk, played, chewed? Does he just kindasorta seem to need to go?) or confine him in his crate or pen. Yes, puppies need exercise and attention; like other babies, they also need plenty of rest and sleep.

Keep Your Puppy in the Same Room with You

Even when your puppy is completely empty, give him access to only the room you are in for now. When you and he have been 100 percent successful for 1 week, you can begin expanding his “empty time” freedom room by room. Spend time with him in each room, feeding him and cuddling him there, to help him perceive this new space as part of the den.

How Long Can Your Puppy Hold It?

It used to be said that a pup could hold it for a number of hours equal to his age in months, plus one. Individuals vary a lot, but don’t bet on your 4-month-old hanging on for 5 hours at a stretch! Increase the time between toilet breaks by 15 or 30 minutes a week at first, if your housetraining is going well. And I don’t like to ask even a grown dog to routinely go longer than 5 or 6 hours without a toilet break except overnight.


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).