House Training and Crate Training Basics

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Last Updated February 15, 2021

The amount of time it takes to house train your puppy is primarily dependent on you. If you do it right, it shouldn’t take long at all, perhaps just a few weeks. Each dog is unique, some “get it” right away, and others don’t get it quite so fast.

Tips for House Training a Puppy

The most important thing to remember when house training your puppy is that unless you actually catch them in the act of having an accident in the house, you should not punish or yell at them. Above all, do not take them to the spot and put their nose in it or show it to them. The puppy is still learning and will have no idea why you are mad at them. They’ve gone potty hundreds of times before and been praised for it. They do not fully understand the concept of “place” yet, so punishing them for something that is natural (going potty) only confuses the puppy. Just clean it up and forget it. If you do catch them in the act, quickly but calmly pick them up, and without raising your voice, say no, and then take them outside. When they finish, praise them.

Most puppies will go into a “pre-potty” routine. Some of the common signs that they are getting ready to go potty are sniffing the floor and circling an area. Watch for these signs and when you see them, go outside immediately to help avoid an accident.

How Crate Training Helps House Train a Puppy

Crate training may not be everyone's first choice, however, it can help get your pup on an easy to keep schedule. There are also many benefits associated with crate training your puppy such as giving them a safe place to go when you are unable to watch them and giving them a place to relax when they are stressed.

Continue reading for a few tips on how to properly crate or cage train your puppy. 


How to Crate Train a Puppy

  1. Make sure your crate/cage is properly sized for your puppy.
  2. Do not put food or water in the cage.
  3. Take your puppy outside immediately after you open the cage.
  4. Whenever your puppy is not being watched by a responsible family member, they should be in the cage. You might also want to have a leash on your puppy and loop it through your belt or keep it on your wrist so they can’t wander off to go potty when you aren’t watching them.
  5. Like most training, house training is about consistency and positive reinforcement. Use specific commands to tell your puppy what you want them to do and use the same command all the time. For example, say “Outside” when it’s time to go out to potty. Once you’re there, pick another word or short phrase like “Hurry Up” or “Find a spot” as a command for them to do their business.
  6. If you keep your puppy leashed when they are outside, you will make certain they are actually going potty when they are outside. If we just let the puppy out in the yard unattended, they may easily get distracted and forget to go. Then when they come back inside and have an accident, we can’t understand it! After all, they were just outside!
  7. As soon as your puppy goes to the bathroom, praise them!! Let the puppy know that was exactly what you wanted them to do. Then take them back inside right away so they only associate the word “outside” with going potty. A few minutes later you can take them out to play if you wish.

Cleaning Up Puppy Accidents

If your puppy does have an accident in the house it is extremely important that you thoroughly clean the area with a product specifically made to clean pet stains and odors. If you don’t use a product for pet accidents, even if you can't smell an odor, your puppy can and they may return to that spot again. To the puppy it will smell like it is okay to eliminate in that place.

Remember, until your puppy is accident-free, they are not house-trained. Even though you thought you were about done with this stage, you must go back to the same level of monitoring and training you were doing at the beginning of the training. Be patient, and remember to not lose your temper. You’ll get there. The better job you do, the better your puppy will do.


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Renee Jones, CPDT-KSA, is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet.

Questions about this article, training or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Renee can be reached most days from 9am – 5pm Central Time (Mon-Fri) at 1-800-JEFFERS (533-3377) ext 381 or by email at rsjones@jefferspet.com.
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Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.

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