Crate and House Training


House training is one of the most important parts of training any dog to be a valued part of the family.  As with many other aspects of dog training, the best way to house train a dog is to use the dog’s own nature to your benefit.

The great thing about dogs, and the thing that can make house training much easier, is that dogs are instinctively very clean animals.  Dogs would rather not soil the areas where they sleep and eat.  In addition, dogs are very good at developing habits regarding where they like to urinate and defecate.  For example, dogs that are used to eliminating on concrete or gravel will prefer to eliminate there rather than on grass or dirt.  It is possible to use these natural canine habits when house training your dog.

Setting Up the Training Area

The first step in house training your dog is to set up your training area.  A small, confined space such as a bathroom, or part of a kitchen or garage, works best as a training area.  This method of training differs from crate training.  Crate training is great for puppies and small dogs, but many larger dogs find a crate too confining.

It is important for the owner to spend as much time in the training area with his or her dog as possible.  It is important for the owner to play with the dog in the training area, and to let the dog eat and sleep in that area.  The dog should be provided with a special bed in the training area, anything from a store bought bed to a large towel to a large box.  At first, the dog may eliminate in this area, but once the dog has recognized it as his or her own space, he or she will be reluctant to soil it.

 After the dog has gotten used to sleeping in the bed, the owner can move it around the house, relocating it from room to room.  When you are not with your dog, the dog should be confined to the training area.

Setting Up the Toilet Area

The second part of house training is to set up the toilet area for the dog.  It is important for the dog to have access to this place every time he or she needs to eliminate.  It is also important for the owner to accompany the dog each time until he or she gets into the habit of eliminating in the toilet area.  This will ensure that the dog uses only the established toilet area.

A set feeding schedule makes the house training process a lot easier for both the owner and the dog.  Feeding the dog on a regular basis will also create a regular schedule for the dog’s toilet habits.  Once you know when your dog is likely to need to eliminate, it will be simple to guide the dog to the established toilet area.

Once the dog has established a toilet area and is using it on a regular basis, it is very important to not confine the dog without access to the toilet area for long periods of time.  That is because if the dog is unable to hold it, he or she may be forced to eliminate in the training area.  This habit can make house training much more difficult.

Continuing the House Training Process

After the dog is consistently eliminating in the toilet area and not soiling the training area, it is time to extend that training area to the rest of the home.  This process should be done slowly, starting with one room and slowly expanding to the rest of the house.  The area should only be extended once you are sure of the dog’s ability to control its bladder and bowels. 

 When you first expand the training area to a single room, let the dog eat, play and sleep in that room, but only when supervised.  When it is not possible to supervise the dog, place it back in the original training area.  Then, after the dog has accepted the room as an extension of the original training area, the area can be extended.

Speeding up the Process

 If this process is too lengthy for your needs, it can be sped up, but it is important to proceed cautiously.  It is easier to take your time up front than to retrain a problem dog later.  One way to successfully speed up house training is to praise and reward the dog each and every time it uses the established toilet area.  It is also important not to punish the dog for mistakes.  Punishment will only confuse the dog and slow down the house training process.

The Do’s and Don’ts of House Training

House training a puppy is very important for the well-being of both the puppy and the owner.  The number one reason that dogs are surrender to animal shelters is problems with inappropriate elimination, so it is easy to see why proper house training is such an important consideration.



It is important to establish proper toilet habits when the puppy is young, since these habits can last a lifetime, and be very hard to break once they are established.  It is very important for the owner to house break the puppy properly.  In most cases, true house training cannot begin until the puppy is six months old. Puppies younger than this generally lack the bowel and bladder control that is needed for true house training.

Puppies younger than six months should be confined to a small, puppy proofed room when the owner cannot supervise them.  The entire floor of the room should be covered with newspapers or similar absorbent materials, and the paper changed every time it is soiled.  As the puppy gets older, the amount of paper used can be reduced as the puppy begins to establish a preferred toilet area.  It is this preferred toilet area that will form the basis of later house training.

The Do’s of House Training Your Puppy:

 Always provide the puppy with constant, unrestricted access to the established toilet area.  

 When you are at home, take the puppy to the toilet area every 45 minutes.

 When you are not at home or cannot supervise the puppy, you must be sure the puppy cannot make a mistake.  This means confining the puppy to a small area that has been thoroughly puppy proofed.  Puppy proofing a room is very similar to baby proofing a room, since puppies chew on everything.

 Always provide a toilet area that does not resemble anything in your home.  Training the puppy to eliminate on concrete, blacktop, grass or dirt is a good idea.  The puppy should never be encouraged to eliminate on anything that resembles the hardwood flooring, tile or carpet he may encounter in a home.

 Praise and reward your puppy every time he eliminates in the established toilet area.  The puppy must learn to associate toileting in the established areas with good things, like treats, toys and praise from his owner.

 Always keep a set schedule when feeding your puppy, and provide constant access to fresh, clean drinking water.  A consistent feeding schedule equals a consistent toilet schedule.

 Using a crate can be a big help in helping a puppy develop self-control.  The concept behind crate training is that the puppy will not want to toilet in his bed area.

 And finally, it is important to be patient when house training a puppy.  House training can take as long as several months, but it is much easier to house train right the first time than to retrain a problem dog.

The Don’ts of House Training Your Puppy:

 Never reprimand or punish the puppy for mistakes.  Punishing the puppy will only cause fear and confusion.

 Do not leave food out for the puppy all night long.  Keep to a set feeding schedule in order to make the dog’s toilet schedule as consistent as possible.  Do not give the puppy the run of the house until he has been thoroughly house trained.

House training is not always the easiest thing to do, and some dogs tend to be much easier to house train than others.  It is important, however to be patient, consistent and loving as you train your dog.  A rushed, frightened or intimidated dog will not be able to learn the important lessons of house training.  Once you have gained your puppy’s love and respect, however, you will find that house training your puppy is easier than you ever expected.

Dealing with House Training Your Dog

House training is one of those issues that every dog owner must grapple with.  In most cases house training is the first major milestone in the relationship between owner and dog, and it can sometimes be difficult and confusing for owner and dog alike.

The best house training procedures are those that use the dog’s own instincts to the owner’s advantage.  These strategies take into account the dog’s reluctance to soil the spots where he eats and sleeps. This is the concept behind den training and crate training.  Dogs are very clean animals, and in nature they always avoid using their dens as toilet areas.

These kinds of natural training methods generally work very well, for both puppies and older dogs.  Naturally, older, larger dogs will need a larger area for their den, and crate training is generally best used for puppies and small dogs.  

When house training a dog or a puppy, however, it is important to pay close attention to the signals the dog is sending.  It is also important to be consistent when it comes to feeding times, and to provide the dog with ready access to the toilet area you establish on a regular basis.

It is important as well to never try to rush the process of house training.  While some dogs are naturally easier to train, most puppies and adult dogs will experience at least one or two slip ups during the house training process.  When these accidents occur, it is important to not get mad and punish the dog.  Accidents during house training usually mean that the owner is trying to move too fast, or that the dog has been left alone for too long.  In this case, it is best to just take a step back and start the process again.

It is also important for the owner to reward the dog enthusiastically when it does its business in the appointed area.  The dog should learn to associate doing its business in its toilet area with good things like treats, rewards and praise.

During the house training process, the den area starts out very small, often as small as half of a small room in the beginning.  As the dog learns to control his bladder and bowels better, and the owner learns to anticipate the dog’s toilet needs, the den area can be slowly expanded.  It is important not to make the den area too large too soon.  The den area must be expanded slowly in order for the house training process to move along smoothly.

It is important for the dog to be properly introduced to its den.  Many dogs, particularly those who have never been confined before, such as those who have spent their lives as outdoor dogs, may react to the den area as if it is a prison, and constantly whine, cry and try to escape the den.  It is important that the dog learn to accept its den as a home and not a cage.

One problem many dog owners overlook when house training a dog is that of boredom.  Boredom is actually the root cause of many behavior problems in dogs, including chewing and other destructive behaviors.  Boredom can also be the root cause of problems with house training.  

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