top of page

House Breaking Your Pet




It All Starts Here.....


When a dog is housebroken he never uses the house for his toilet.



Many people do not understand why their dog does not know what to do when taken outside. Just turning a dog out in the back yard by himself a few times a day is not the way to house train a dog.


Merely taking him outside also does not mean he knows what he's being taken outside for. The biggest problem between the dog and the owner is that the dog would love to please but he doesn't know how to communicate with you.


Housebreaking in theory is very simple. It is finding a means of preventing the puppy from doing his duties in the house and only giving him the opportunity to do it outside. It also means that the dog learns to communicate with you about going when told to go and about letting you know when he has to go outside.


A dog is a creature of habit and because he learns by association, if his training is consistent he will quickly learn there is no other place to relieve himself other than outdoors.


We take advantage of a very natural instinct of the dog - his desire to keep his sleeping quarters clean - i.e. not to mess his bed. We offer a dog a den in the form of a dog crate. This becomes his bed that he cannot get out of. If the dog crate is the right size he will not soil it. Puppies may not initially like it (some will scream their heads off) but within a few days they will accept it without a problem.


Dogs are and always have been den and pack animals. Canines naturally and instinctively prefer the shelter of a den. In the wild the young are raised in dens. They spend a great part of their first year very close to their den. In homes, dogs often choose their den. They will get under a desk, behind a couch, in a closet, etc.


A dog crate is a perfect, natural bed for the dog and a safe, natural spot to put the pet whenever necessary for the dog's safety or the owner's peace of mind.


If you are appalled by the idea of confining him to a cage, let me dispel any idea of cruelty. You are actually catering to a very natural desire on the part of the dog. In his wild state, where does a dog bed down for the night? Does he lie down in the middle of an open field where other animals can pounce on him? No! He finds a cave or trunk of a tree where he has a feeling of security - a sense of protection. The correct use of a crate merely satisfies the dog's basic need to feel safe, protected, snug and secure.

Now with this said, some puppies will scream their living heads of - some for a couple of days when you put them in the crate. The question you need to answer is "would I rather get the dog used to the crate or would I rather clean up dog poop on my rug"? An easy question to answer.


Pups do get over the fact that screaming gets them no where - as long as you ignore it and DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT OF THE CRATE WHEN THEY ARE SCREAMING. If it bothers you - put the crate in the basement or the garage or leave the house for a few hours. Trust me - it will stop when it gets tired. Those who give in create their own problems.


Small pups will naturally sleep 15 to 18 hours a day. This is normal. They quickly learn that the crate means taking a nap.


I keep a plastic bowl of all-natural dog treats near my crate. Every time I put a pup in the crate I give an "INSIDE" command and toss 3 or 4 treats into the crate. It gives the pup a nice reason to go in. You will be surprised how quickly they expect to get a treat when they go into the crate. Going in becomes a positive experience.


As a dog ages and learns I will give the "iNSIDE" command before I toss the treats in. I will expect the dog to go in on their own because I just told them to do it. This exercise is the beginning of teaching your dog to go to his crate when people come to the house.


When thinking of the size of a crate needed for your dog, think small. Think den not condo! The use of too large a crate for a puppy will encourage the pet to use a small portion of it for a bed and the remainder as a relief station!


The puppy should only be allowed to relieve itself out doors. It is OK to place the crate in the bedroom of the person who will be responsible for that early morning trip. This is a temporary situation. I am not a fan of a dog sleeping in the bedroom. It often causes adult dog to develop issues of dominance. Once the pup is old enough to sleep the night through without having to go outside I recommend that the crate be moved into another room.


A crate is never meant to be used as a place of punishment for the puppy, so a couple of safe toys would be welcome for crate-time. A kong filled with peanut butter or cream cheese goes a long way towards keeping a puppy quiet in a crate. Be careful of the toys you choose to leave - soft squeaky toys with bells are not healthy for pups. To often pups chew up these soft toys and get parts of them stuck in their bowels which often kills them.


Start crate training while you remain in the same room with the crated dog, frequently praising him and letting him know clearly it is pleasing to you that he remains in the crate, quietly. Frequent trips out of the room with quick returns with a treat through the bars will condition the dog to your comings and goings.


Gradually extend your absent periods, and in a short time, you can be gone several hours. While in the crate, the dog should not be scolded except for chewing on the wires. You can make it clear that you are not pleased with screaming but often that does not impress the pup. So ignore it.


Crate confinement works so well that most dogs soon choose the crate for naps and, in general, consider it their own private domain. They learn that they can go into their crate and sleep and no one will step on them or jump on them. I feed all my house dogs in their crate. I NEVER feed outside the crate.


At night take the puppy out and give him an opportunity to do his duties. If you are in a protected area (a fenced back yard) let him go free of the leash.  Be sure to stay out there with him. Lavishly praise him with GOOD OUTSIDE when he has completed his duties. Take him inside at once and put him in his bed.


A puppy is NEVER ALLOWED TO HAVE FREE ACCESS TO THE HOUSE unless you have your eyes on the pup. If he poops on the floor because you turned your back for 45 seconds - well you messed up and made a mistake. Don't blame the pup for your mistake.


The only time pups are loose in my home is just after they come in from going outside to potty and then only for short periods of time. All of my interaction with my pups is done outside. I NEVER leave a dog unattended and loose in the house until it is 18 to 24 months old and then only for short periods.


Pups must go out first thing in the morning (and I mean first thing) take the dog outside. He's been clean all night - and holding it all night - he will do his duty in a hurry because HE HAS TO GO. Now bring him in and give him freedom, but in the kitchen only. A child's gate at the kitchen doorway is an excellent barrier to the other rooms in the house. Give him his freedom while breakfast is being prepared and while you are eating breakfast. After your breakfast, and when you have time to take him out, feed him his breakfast - and take him out immediately. Remember the rule - outside after each meal. Dogs relieve themselves after SLEEPING- EATING AND HAVING EXERCISE.


Now bring him in and put him in his crate and go about your normal routine of the morning. He should stay in the crate until about 11:00 to 11:30 A.M. Then out of the crate and outside. Bring him in, and while you are preparing and eating lunch let him have the freedom of the kitchen but only when you have "eyes on the dog."


At dinner time as soon as he has finished his last mouthful - take him outside. After he has completed his duties, bring him in and again give him the freedom of the kitchen while you are preparing dinner and during the dinner hour. Give him another trip outside about 8:00 P.M. - and again just before your bedtime. Some pups need to be exercised more than others to get them to relieve themselves. Exercise always increases the urge to pee or poop.


The bottom line is you cannot take your dog outside too much. If you take him out every hour then he learns that he is going to have a chance to go outside to do his business. So when someone tells you to wait for 4 hours - I would ask WHY if you can take him out more often? Why wait that long if you are home. We want to establish a pattern and what better way than to take the dog out all the time.


Also do not underestimate how important it is to ask your pup if he WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE just before going out and praising GOOD OUTSIDE WHEN HE DOES GO. I tell my adult dogs GOOD OUTSIDE.


Proper Correction


Under no circumstances should the puppy be punished for relieving himself in the house, unless you catch him in the act. The punishment should be a verbal scolding not physical harm. 

A puppy has no mental capacity to connect your wrath with whatever he did wrong, even a few minutes earlier. If you cannot get to the pup within 2 seconds of him doing his business then you have screwed up. Pups simply cannot put two and two together to understand why you would be mad about his peeing on the rug. It is confusing to him and you only get a puzzled whimper. Catch him in the act or scolding is no good.

The old adage of rubbing a dogs nose in it is stupid. We don't do this to our kids and we should not do this to our dogs. Anyone who recommends this needs a lot more experience in dog training.


Run over and grab him by the scruff of the neck and gently shake him. This is exactly what his mother did when he did something wrong. This should be accompanied with a harsh NO. Immediately take him outside to finish what he started. This is the only way you can show him what you want. You are catching him in the act, stopping him, taking him outside and then giving him tremendous praise when he finishes.


Many people are mistakenly convinced that a dog messes in the house for spite or revenge, usually for having been left alone.


This is incorrect.


It is for reasons of anxiety, nervousness or fear that he behaves this way...or simply that he is not properly housebroken. Very often the owner comes home and find the dog behaving in a fearful, shameful, or generally guilt-ridden manner. It is because of this that the owner is convinced the dog has messed in the house for spite.


It's simply not true.


The dog cringes when you come home because he associates your arrival with punishment. You have conditioned him by correcting too severely when you came home in the past (and it only takes ONE TIME).


                                                                                                                                                                                           Leeburg Training

A couple of points on how to house train your dog:


1. Do not vary your dog's diet.

2. Treats should only be given as a reward for the puppy going into the crate.

3. Bring him in as soon as he does his business.

4. Praise every time you see him pee or poop. Do this forever. Reinforcing good behavior never hurt anything. 

5. Dogs who go out and just dink around and then go in their crate need more exercises when they go outside. A long walk will often cure the problem. BE SURE TO PRAISE WITH "GOOD OUTSIDE" or whatever you want - then when you have the dog in the house and say "DO YOU WANT TO GO OUTSIDE" he will learn what you mean.


6. Older dogs are house trained exactly like young pups.

For more information

Contact us at:

bottom of page