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How to house train your new puppy

Updated: Jan 22


white golden retriever puppy next to his training crate

Puppies have a strong natural instinct to avoid soiling their own area. If you are consistent and patient, this natural urge for cleanliness makes house training fairly easy. You can begin training any time after five weeks of age. A little extra effort and patience in puppy-hood will make the difference later on between a happy, cooperative pet and one that causes problems for you.

Establish a Teacher-Learner Relationship with Your Pup

Use two types of rewards-praise and petting. When your puppy asks for attention, you probably respond by petting, which is only natural. Begin using these requests to show that you are the teacher and your puppy is the learner. It may sound silly but it's important to establish this relationship early in puppy-hood.


Each time your puppy asks to be petted, respond by holding your hand about a foot above his nose and saying, "(your dog's name), sit." Move your hand back over his ears as you speak. This makes him look up, which is the first part of sitting. Keep repeating "good sit" until he sits. Then pet him on the throat and chest with your other hand for a few seconds as you repeat the praise. If not successful at first, repeat the procedure. When your dog sits from five to ten seconds, release him from the command by saying "OK", then pet and praise him again. Gradually increase the sitting time until you have reached one or two minutes before you say "OK". Be sure everyone who lives with the pet follows this procedure.


Consistent treatment from the whole family makes for a better adjusted, happier pet. Insist that your pet earn praise. To learn about more training your puppy, read our Behavioral Training blog.

Teaching Your Puppy Where To Go

At first, feed at least three times a day. All dogs do not have the same digestive rates. You may need to feed your puppy as often as five times a day in order to avoid overloading his system and causing loose, difficult-to-control bowel movements. When you find the right schedule, the result is a dog that eats and then has a bowel movement within a few minutes.

Feed indoors. Remember, dogs do not like to potty where they eat. If your dog is urinating or defecating in a certain area, try feeding him right at that spot (after clean up, of course.)


Right after your dog finishes eating, take him out naturally (dont carry or force) to his toilet area, ahead of you if possible. Then let him sniff around for a good spot. Do not confuse things by urging him to go. After he goes to the bathroom, crouch down and point at the urine or fecal matter and say "good dog". Look right at the stuff, not at the dog. If your dog sniffs it, praise and pet him enthusiastically.

Take Your Puppy Outside:

  • After waking up, even from a nap

  • After extreme excitement

  • After drinking water

  • After prolonged chewing on a toy, etc.

  • If he starts sniffing around the house for a good spot

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In about four days your pup should automatically head for his proper place after meals or whenever the urge strikes. If it takes longer, be patient.

After this stage of house training, your puppy knows where to go, but not when to go. Do not try to teach self control (the "when" part) until you can be sure he will always head for the door when it's time to go.

Teaching When To Go

To teach self control, you must keep feeding times consistent. Don't feed at 7:30 a.m. on week days and then sleep in on Sunday--you'll ruin the whole program. Dogs can control their urine for as long as thirteen hours when they need to. To teach self control, you should try to let your dog outdoors only at times when you are ordinarily home to do so. Whenever you see signs that your pup wants to go to the bathroom during the forbidden hours, try to distract him by tossing a ball, playing with a toy or doing any activity that will take his mind off the urge.

If possible, have your puppy sleep in a room with people. Because he will be inclined to tune into your sleeping times, there will be fewer accidents and less night time disturbance. Given a little blanket as a bed, most puppies soon learn to sleep through the entire night.

How To Deal With Potty Mistakes

Old fashioned house training methods tell us to grab the puppy, show him the mess and punish him. This is not necessary and probably harmful. Instead, if you discover an accident, just say "ugh" disgustedly and whisk puppy out to his proper toilet area. Leave him there while you clean up the mess. Make sure he cannot see you cleaning up. Strangely, many dogs find it rewarding to watch their owner pick up poop or clean up pee-pee, and often leave another such gift as soon as they can. Because puppies seem to enjoy this game, it is a good idea to have them watch you clean up after they go to the bathroom in the correct place.


To discourage repeat visits, accidents must be cleaned up well enough to completely eliminate odor. After blotting and cleaning as best you can with paper towels, soak the stained area with an enzymatic cleaner. Let it remain on the stain 30 minutes or longer, blot up the liquid, and if still necessary, use regular rug cleaner afterwards. To work properly, the enzyme cleaner must be used before using regular rug cleaner.


Learn about Golden Puppies' Head Start Training Program, a necessary step in ensuring your Golden Retriever or Goldendoodle transitions from playful puppyhood to a well-mannered adulthood.

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