To be clear, simple does not mean easy to do, it means easy to understand or uncomplicated. While some puppies will be easier than others, there is no question that housebreaking a puppy can be challenging. The topic will be covered in much more detail throughout the chapter but, since I’m sure some of you are in hurry, let’s start off “simply” by breaking it down into three basic sections: Management, Potty Breaks and Clean Up.


Manage the environment so that the puppy is prevented from free roaming the house. 

  • Close bedroom doors and use tools such as baby gates, crates, ex-pens, leashes and tethers to restrict the puppies activities to certain areas.  
  • Accidents should not be happening without you seeing them happen. 
  • If you are finding surprises, you are not following a strict enough management plan. 

Potty Breaks

You need to get the puppy to where you want them to go and you need to do it often. 

  • That could be an indoor potty area but, unless you are in an apartment, most of the time the preferred location will be outdoors. 
  • Whatever location you choose, you need to get them to that spot at least every one to two hours. For young pups it can be more like every 30 minutes. 
  • Reward them heavily with genuine, loving, verbal praise and petting for going potty in that spot. Really let them know you are happy and that they did the right thing! You can also use treats, if you want to, and pretty soon your pup will start to think, “My urine and feces are worth money out there!” 
  • Start watching for certain times or signals that they need to go potty, such as after sleeping, after eating, after playing or if they start sniffing, circling, walking funny or whining.  

Clean Up 

Hopefully everyone knows that you need to clean up any and all messes but what many people miss is that you need to use the right type of cleaners.  

  • Soap and water or regular household cleaners are not good enough. It may smell clean and fresh to us but puppies can still smell urine or feces. 
  • Use an enzyme cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle, designed specifically to break down and eliminate pet odors, not just cover them up. 
  • Give it a deep clean. Let the cleaner soak deep down into the carpet, all the way through to the carpet padding, and let it soak for several minutes before scrubbing it up.

There you go! That’s a pretty decent summary, if I do say so myself. It should at least be enough to get you off to a good start. However, stopping here would be like eating soup with a fork. Reading the rest of the chapter will be like using a spoon to get every drop! 

In the rest of the chapter, I will extrapolate on the three basic concepts outlined above and much more, including the controversial subject of punishment, so please grab a spoon and keep reading for all the juicy details. 

Suggestion: You may want to print or bookmark this page so you can come back to it as a quick reference guide. 

Chad Culp – Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant, Owner of Thriving Canine. 

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