Lucky Chance Rescue

Quick Tips For House-Breaking Your Puppy

House Training A Rescue Dog

It is unlikely that your dog will be perfectly house-trained when you take him or her home. Some of the dogs in our foster program have lived in a shelter for a while with minimal walks or chances to relieve themselves outside, on the streets with no training or come to us with limited information about their previous home life.  At the very least, be prepared for an adjustment period until your dog gets used to your schedule.

Indoor Potty Training Your Puppy

There are so many good reasons to teach your puppy to go to potty outside, but that is not always the most safe option. Until puppies have 2 rounds of vaccinations, it is never safe for them to go outside to go potty. NO PAWS ON THE GROUND rule can prevent many life threatening illnesses such as Parvo. Indoor potty training for puppies is the acceptable way to begin training until they are safe to go outside.

During this time, you can use potty training pads to give a puppy a place to go inside. They are usually scented in order attract dogs to urinate on them. Place your dog’s indoor spot in a low-traffic area of the house for your convenience, as well as for your dog’s privacy. Most dogs prefer some peace and quiet when it comes to doing their business.

Wherever you place the indoor toilet area, be sure that it is where you want it to stay to prevent your dog from having accidents. Also, choose a location with an easy-to-clean floor, such as tile or linoleum, because accidental misses will happen. This can be an aid in potty training. Keep a close eye when your pup goes potty on the pad and give verbal praise to reinforce the behavior.

Keep the area clean and use and enzymatic cleaner, not one that contains ammonia. This will help to get rid of the odor and the dog’s attraction to the area. Urine has a strong smell of ammonia that attracts dogs to smell and mark with their own. For the latter, some training pads are sprayed with ammonia to encourage a puppy to go there.  You can also use white vinegar to counteract the smell of ammonia

Once your puppy is a bit older and has been fully vaccinated, you will be ready to transition him to doing his business outside.

Transitioning To Potty Outside… The Basics!

  • Use a potty command consistently

    Every time you take your puppy outside to their area, say, “go potty” or pick another command. This will teach it to go in that specific location. The dog will begin to recognize the command and understand what you want it to do. This will help the dog to learn when and where it should be urinating or defecating. Use that command only when you want them to go. This will avoid confusion

  • Choose a potty time and zone

    Set up a daily schedule where you walk your dog on lead to the desired elimination spot after meals, after naps, and every couple of hours in between. It is best to pick a certain area outside and take your dog there every time he needs to go. You should pick a spot that is not visited by other dogs and is easy to clean up.  Your dog will remember the smell of urine and start to associate the area as its “potty spot.”  Keep your puppy on a leash so you can teach it to go in a specific location and to know when they are done so you can praise them. To reinforce that the trip has a purpose, he is out there to do his business,you should not play with the dog during trips to eliminate.  

  • Keep an eye on your dog

    Keep your puppy where you can watch it at all times. This will allow you to look for early signs that he needs to go and help to prevent accidents. Signs when he might go are; circling, scratching, and sniffing, whining, barking, or any sudden behavior change. When you see any of these signs, immediately lead your dog outside.

  • Praise successes

    Always praise your dog every time it uses the appropriate area. Use a cheerful, happy voice that lets the dog know he has done a good job. Being consistent with praise, “Good boy/girl go potty outside”  will give your dog an emotional incentive to do their business in the correct place.

indoor potty training puppy

Accidents Happen!

When they do, make a sudden noise such as a clap, and say the word “no.” Then, quickly lead your dog outside.  You want to startle your dog, but not scare him, to get his immediate attention. Be consistent, using the same word and/or noise each time.

Never punish your puppy for accidents

Your puppy does not know it is doing anything wrong. Do not force your puppy to smell or keep reminding them of their actions. They will not remember and could possibly become scared of you.  Your dog could only understand that you get mad when you see them potty and will hide from you when they need to go.

Using Crates for Housebreaking a Dog

  • Start immediately!

    Using a crate is very effective for teaching bowel and bladder control. However, if you’re planning on crate training to housebreak, you should start this process as soon as you bring your new puppy home.

  • Confine the puppy to the crate when you are home

    Every 20 minutes or so, take your puppy outside. Give her time to go to the bathroom. If she doesn’t use the bathroom outside, return her to the crate. If she does, immediately reward the puppy with extreme praise, treats, love, play, and perhaps the ability to run free about your house for a little while.


  • Schedule Potty Breaks

    Assuming you have a regular feeding schedule for your puppy, he’ll also have a regular bathroom schedule. Once you know the times at which he actually goes to the bathroom, you can begin taking her out of her crate at those times rather than every 20-30 minutes. When the timing is completely consistent, you can let your puppy run supervised around your house for most of the day.

  • Phase Out The Crate

    Always praise your dog every time it potty’s outside. Eventually, as your dog learns to go outside, you can work towards eliminating the crate altogether and just take your dog outside regularly.

Umbilical Cord Housebreaking

Umbilical Cord Training is a housebreaking method that’s pretty much what it sounds like – your dog is attached to you with his leash throughout the day. It’s a supervision-based program that requires vigilance but yields excellent results with just about every dog or puppy. This method works well in conjunction with other methods and is a great alternative if you are struggling with housebreaking using crate training or indoor potty training.  This method is the perfect choice for preventing accidents, while giving you the opportunity to correct him if he tries to have an accident.

  • What To Use

    Use a 6-foot leash for umbilical cord training. This gives your puppy a bit of room to move around, but he can’t get so far away from you that you lose track of what he’s doing.  You can hold it, put the loop around your wrist, sit on the end of it or tie it to your belt loop.

  • Set A Schedule

    When you start your umbilical cord training program, your dog may just hang out with you and choose to wait patiently to relieve himself when you take him to his potty area. You’ll need to pay attention and keep him on a reasonable schedule for his age and level of experience


  • Supervise your dog

    If your dog is allowed any unsupervised free time and has an accident in the house in the early phases of umbilical cord training, you’re teaching him a very bad lesson. He’ll learn to hold it until you get distracted and stop watching him, then he’ll go potty in the house. When you’re hanging out with your puppy, don’t let him out of your sight!

  • What if you have to leave?

    If you need to leave the house or are unable to supervise your dog for a period of time, he must either be left in an area where he won’t have accidents, such as a crate or indoor containment area, or in an area where it’s OK for him to potty. Under no circumstances should he be left in the house alone and unsupervised,

  • Phasing out the umbilical cord

    Once the dog is going potty regularly when you take him to his potty area, you can start to allow him a bit of freedom. After he has gone potty outside, give him a short period of supervised free time in the house. Supervised free time means you’re not holding the leash and the dog isn’t tethered to anything, but you still need to keep him in the same room with you and keep your eyes on him so you know what he’s doing and you can catch him if he starts to make a mistake. Start with 5 minutes for puppies under 6 months and 10 minutes for dogs over 6 months, then gradually increase the length of time as he proves himself to be responsible by not having accidents when he has free time.

    After your dog is able to reliably handle supervised periods of 30-60 minutes on a regular basis without any accidents or attempts to go potty in the wrong spot. Allow him more freedom gradually as he earns your trust. If your dog starts having accidents at any point after you start allowing him more freedom, you may be trying to progress at a faster rate than he can handle. Don’t panic. Just immediately go back to having him under your direct supervision so he doesn’t get into the habit of having accidents.


crate training your dog

Bell Training Your Dog

Hang a bell from the door through which you take her out to potty, use a treat to lure her nose to it, or take her paw and hit the bell and then say outside and take her out. When you get out side say go potty. It’s important she be let out on a leash, so she learns ringing the bell is only for potty time. Once she realizes it gets her outside, she will go through a brat phrase where she rings it constantly to go out, so until she learns it’s only for that, she must go out on a collar and leash. It also give you control of her choices outside.

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