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How to Housetrain a Puppy in 10 Steps

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jul 30, 2020 • 3 min read

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Housebreaking a puppy is an essential part of dog training and should be your first priority upon bringing a new puppy home. Potty training a puppy typically takes four to six months, depending on the age of your puppy, the regularity of training, and the type of training.

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog TrainingBrandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Expert animal trainer Brandon McMillan teaches you his simple, effective training system to build trust and control with your dog.

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How to Housetrain a Puppy in 10 Steps

Crate training is a common housebreaking technique used with new puppies. This is because puppies prefer a clean sleeping area and will attempt to avoid peeing while in their dog crate.

  1. Choose the right crate. In picking the right crate for your pup, size is key. If you choose one that’s too big, they’ll have room for a potty area on one end and a sleeping area on the other end. Choose one that’s too small, and it will be uncomfortable for them. Go for one that allows them to stand up, circle around, and lie down comfortably.
  2. Make the crate comfortable. Once you get a crate that’s the proper size, make sure it’s comfortable and inviting. Add some blankets; make it cozy. Place the crate by the door, making it easy to get them outside before they have the chance to go to the bathroom inside the house.
  3. Take your puppy outside to do their business. Make sure to leash them as soon as they leave the crate and get them outside ASAP. Once outside, say a command, such as “do your business,” and wait for them to go. If you live in an apartment, place a pen around a piddle pad (or puppy pad) and use it as a substitute for the backyard.
  4. Use positive reinforcement. Remember to use your command as they do their business and reward them with treats and positive reinforcement when they do.
  5. Give your puppy time to play indoors. After your dog successfully urinates or defecates, bring them back inside for some supervised free time. Make this playtime fun for them: toys, attention, and so on. You’ll want to limit your puppy to one room when starting out. This allows you to keep an eye on them and prevent them from getting into too much trouble.
  6. Return your puppy to the crate. After an hour of free time, return your dog to the crate for about three hours. Asking them to hold their bladders like this trains their muscles, developing them for adulthood.
  7. Repeat the process. After about three hours in the crate, it’s time to head back outside and repeat the process.
  8. Take your puppy outside after meals. At mealtime, you’ll want to feed your puppy in the crate then immediately take them outside (eating gets their systems moving very fast). Putting your puppy on a regular feeding schedule will also help ensure its potty breaks come at consistent intervals. To decrease the chance of house soiling, avoid giving your dog water starting two hours before bedtime.
  9. Use the right kind of discipline. If your dog does go to the bathroom in the house, avoid scolding or punishing. Instead, there’s a simple and effective way to discourage them. Before you clean up the soiled area, simply leash them beside the site of the accident and leave them there for about twenty to thirty minutes—dogs don’t want to hang around their own pee or poop. You can use a similar approach for adult dogs who mark their territory indoors.
  10. Continue until your puppy is housetrained. As your dog progresses, begin to add time to their free time and subtract it from time in the crate (about fifteen to twenty minutes each day). Eventually, you can make the decision to no longer crate them. At this point, your dog is housetrained.

Want to Learn More About Training the Goodest Boy or Girl?

Your dream of having a dog who understands words like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and—crucially—”no” is just a MasterClass All-Access Pass away. The only things you’ll need to train up a well-behaved pup are your laptop, a big bag of treats, and our exclusive instructional videos from superstar animal trainer Brandon McMillan.

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