Everyone loves a puppy, but no one loves the mess that comes with bringing a new puppy into your home. They’re just too cute not to love. However, that cute little puppy is not so cute when it pees and poops all over your lovely home. That's why you need to know how to housebreak a puppy before you decide to bring one home.
We all know that to take on a puppy, means a certain amount of hard work and responsibility. It will be your responsibility to fully train the new member of your family. This takes a lot of patience, as does potty training a baby.
Unfortunately, not everyone can toilet their dog outside.
There may be a number for reasons why your dog needs to have an indoor bathroom alternative, including:
- an elderly or disabled owner that cannot take the dog outside often enough
- an elderly or disabled dog that cannot make his way outside often enough
- city dwellers living in a high rise apartment
- living in an area where the dog cannot go outside at certain times (for example, if it's too hot or too cold outside)
There are no doubt many other reasons. What this highlights, is that there are times when dogs cannot to go outside for toileting. It is just not an option. If you're in one of these situations, don't worry! You can learn how to housebreak a puppy even if you cannot always take him outside with these quick hacks.
How to Housebreak a Puppy Using Potty Pads
What is a Puppy Potty Pee Pad?
Puppy potty pee pads are the perfect training aid to use when learning how to housebreak a dog. Potty pads are easy to use and easy to dispose of once soiled. They are square pads that sit on the floor and soak up toilet mess.
These products can contain adhesive points for sticking to the floor, and they come in various sizes to suit all dogs. Sandwiched between the leakproof layers, is a thick pad core. Some are better than the others, but we've done a comparison of the best puppy pee pads before (video in the link) to see which ones are most cost-effective.
Once the dog pees on the pad, the core turns to gel. Potty pads also have a quick-dry surface on the top, so your dog won't step in the urine and track it around your house. Some potty pads, like the Bark Potty, even come with non-toxic synthetic grass on the surface to entice your puppy to go to the bathroom.
Take a look at the Bark Potty review video below or the comparison/test video in the link above to see how these things work. Once you have an understanding of what a puppy potty pee pad is, we can take look at how to housebreak a puppy using them.
15 Hacks On How to Housebreak a Puppy
Housebreaking a puppy takes patience and consistency. You can't expect your pup to grasp the toilet training concept in just a few days. This is going to take weeks, not days. You need to stick to your housebreaking plan and not get burnt out by the frustration.
These hacks will help you stay on track with your potty training efforts:
1. Take him out often
A puppy has a small bladder, so he will need to pee often. To train a puppy to pee outside, you will need to take him out every hour. For some people, that can be impossible. Even for those able to do this, it can be inconvenient.
That's when puppy pads need to be used. Simply place puppy pads in your home somewhere, always in the same location. Instead of taking your dog to the same potty spot outside, bring him to the potty pad when it's time for a bathroom break.
2. Look for the signs
Signs to watch out for are when your dog begins sniffing the ground frantically, searching for somewhere suitable to pee. If you're further along in your potty training endeavor, he may also look for a place to hide, as he knows peeing in the house is not acceptable behavior.
3. Put the pad in the same spot EVERY time
When learning how to housebreak a puppy, place the potty pad in the same spot every single time. Moving it around will only confuse the dog. By doing this, the puppy will learn exactly where to go for toileting.
4. Contain your puppy
Consider restricting the area that the puppy can run around in until you have completed toilet training. A large dog crate or a playpen is ideal. Place the potty pad inside the pen or crate. If the puppy has free access everywhere, but still has accidents around the home, it is more likely to go sniff out those places a second time around.
5. Reward good behavior
It’s always a good idea to keep a supply of treats in your pocket. Your puppy will soon learn that if he uses the potty pad he gets a treat. That’s an ideal time to give the treat and praise. Its called positive reinforcement and works really well with toilet training.
6. Do NOT punish when he has an accident
Along with rewarding good behavior, you should also not punish your dog when learning how to housebreak a puppy. Do not punish your puppy if he has an accident. This is going to happen a lot to begin with.
If you see it happen, then gently lift puppy onto the pad and say your special word (see later in this article). Even when you have the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess, don’t get angry with puppy. This will only enforce puppy to sneak away from you, and do his toileting out of sight. That's called, negative reinforcement.
7. Contain your puppy while you're away from home
If you choose not to confine puppy’s area, when you go out it is highly recommended that you choose a small place for him to stay such as the bathroom or a kennel. Don’t forget to put down the pad before you leave the room.
A puppy's natural instinct is to eat, sleep and use the bathroom in completely separate areas. By confining him to a small area, you're increasing the likelihood that he won't use the bathroom while you're gone.
8. Start with multiple pads
Begin with more than one pad. Leave them in various places where puppy is allowed. Gradually reduce the number of pads available until only 1 or 2 remain.
You may find yourself putting them back whenever accidents occur. Particularly if the accident is where a removed pad was situated in the first place. Maybe that's their favorite area to toilet, so you may have to reconsider where the permanent pad location should be.
9. Get him used to a schedule
As puppy grows, toileting will decrease and tends to happen more often after feed time. If he feeds twice a day, morning and evening, that is when you should be more attentive to placing him on the pad.
10. Remember nap time
If puppy has a nap take him to his pad as soon as he wakes up. If he does nothing, try it again 5 minutes later. After a long sleep it's very likely that he'll need to use the bathroom.
11. A leash may be helpful
If puppy wanders from the pad every time you put him there, then get into the habit of keeping him on a leash. Stand there until you feel he’s been on the pad long enough. Clearly, if he does nothing after 5-10 minutes, let him go. Remember, no one said this would be easy!
12. Work gradually
When learning how to housebreak a puppy, it's important that you remember to increase his freedom gradually. Once puppy stops having accidents, allow him more freedom.
It could be that he has learned to hold his bladder for longer. Maybe he is also getting an inkling where to go for toileting. Should those accidents return, go back a stage.
RELATED VIDEO: How To Toilet Train A Puppy – Step-by-Step Instructions
13. Move toward the door
The goal for most is to have the dog toilet outside of the house. To achieve this, start moving his pad closer and closer towards the outside door. Don’t rush it or puppy may not realize his pad has moved. He may continue to mess in the same place. With patience, you will soon be by the door. The next step would be to move it outside.
14. Use a verbal cue
It might help if you have a regular word to use when you place puppy on the pad, such as “pee-pee time.” Also have another word for praise. It’s not so much the words we use, but the tone of voice we use when we say them.
Dogs are quick to learn associations with your tone of voice. When you say “clever boy,” the chances are you are using a different tone to when you say, “wee-wee time.” He will know which tone belongs to which task, and which phrase brings about a reward.
15. Make sure praise is immediate
Dogs are quick to forget what they have just done. If you praise straight away, he will associate why you are rewarding him. Once puppy understands this, he will seek out that praise and continue to perform the task that brings such a tasty and happy reward.
WATCH NEXT: Best Puppy Potty Training Pads Comparison