I have seen a multitude of posts regarding housetraining so thought I would construct information that would serve as basic guidelines of how to train and what to expect. We all get excited about bringing that new puppy home but remember, it takes lots of work to help that pup grow up to be a cherished companion. It doesnt happen magically and takes input, time, love and patience from you, the owner.
Generally pups come to their new homes between 8 - 10 weeks. This is quite an overwhelming time in a pups life as they leave their mom, littermates and the only environment ever known to them. They face many challenges as they enter their new home. They have smells they have never experienced, are exposed to sounds they have never heard and are being handled in a different way they ever before. Often times they will go off their food or cry due to such changes. They will also eliminate in your home. This will happen and in no way should this be a surprise for anyone.
Housebreaking is a plan that needs to be in place before the puppy comes home. Crate training is a viable option but depending on how it is used can also delay good housebreaking. The premise of the crate is that a dog will not soil the area in which he has to sleep. With that in mind one must remember the physical ability of the pup that is in this situation. Physically at such a tender age they have little to no ability to control their eliminations. When the urge strikes they go. Keeping such a youngster confined to a small space for hours on end offers them no other option then to soil in their sleeping quarters.
The plan that needs to be in place is a very strict routine of regular outings. The routine that has always worked best for me is first thing in the morning (yes, before you have your cup of coffee) and about once per hour thereafter. For the first few weeks this will teach the pup that outside also signifies time to eliminate. Remember letting them out the back door and not supervising will not be as effective. You need to learn what their elimination pattern is and you need to know if they went. I generally feed dinner no later then six p.m. so they have some digestion time prior to my retiring for the night. Their last outing is generally around 11 p.m.
As your pup grows and you become more familiar with their elimination patterns you will lessen the amount of times they need to go out. First thing in the morning, shortly after a meal and whenever they awake from a nap. A general rule of thumb is a pup has some sort of control for about an hour of each month of his age. ie 2 months, 2 hours, 3 months, 3 hours, etc.
Teach your pup an elimination command such a "go potty, do your business" or whatever. Use this command each time you take them out. Try to bring them to the same place each day as the smell will be a reminder of what happened there before. If they go praise, praise! Do not let a pup out to play BEFORE they have eliminated. He needs to learn to potty first, play later.
Generally pups are able to "hold it" at night before they are able to do so in the day. This is attributed to the much lower activity level at the time and the lack of food/water intake. My pups have always been clean at night far sooner then in the day.
Please be realistic. So many folks think their pup is near housebroken at 3 and 4 months of age. While they may be starting a pattern you can bet this is just not a reality. Most dogs are not consistently solid until they are near a year of age. You will have periods of great success only to be met with a return of soiling in the home. This is a normal part of training a pup.
Remember never to punish or reprimand a dog for soiling inside. If he did so it is a lapse in your training and supervision. Keep a close eye on your pup. When you see him starting to sniff a certain area you can bet he probably is looking to eliminate. Quickly get him outside and give the potty command. Praise, praise.
Potty training is easier when broken down in steps. The first is getting your pup to understand the chosen place of elimination. It is the repetition of going to this place that will get him to understand your desires. The next step is to learn his signal for wishing to go there. Some dogs will go to the door that leads to this place. You must be aware enough to follow through at this time to start a pattern. Once again supervision is the key. If you are not aware it makes it most difficult for a pup to express his desire to you. Some will learn to bark at the door, others have taught dogs to ring a bell.
As a pup reaches 4 to 5 months they usually have a fair understanding of what the routine is if you have been consistent. They are also increasing their ability to control their elimination habits. You may now relax the routine a bit scheduling the outings to after meal and activity times. Good supervision becomes the key now. Do not allow pups to wander off in to other rooms, try to keep them in your general vicinity. This will allow you to notice the sign they need to go.
Some folks try to be helpful and use potty pads. I do not like them and choose not to use them. One reason is generally a pup left alone for longer periods of time will become bored and shred them. Another is this adds confusion to the pup as to the proper surface to eliminate. Generally this makes the potty training process much longer.
Confinement - while I am a big believer in crate training I do not believe a dog should spend all day in a crate while one works then the entire night. I offer my pups freedom at night long before I do in the day time. I am also a big fan of exercise pens which give them more ability to move about. Some folks have rooms in the home that are fairly free of items that can be destroyed. A babygate at this door also serves as a good option. Remember a crate can keep a pup safe and help him learn his good potty manners but is no tradeoff for the human part of the training. I know of dogs that are great and always clean in a crate but will still eliminate in the home. This generally is a failure on the owners part to follow through with the training.
Generally I find my pups relapse at 7 - 9 months of age. I attribute this to a stage that brings them confidence and a strong desire to play. The brain is not thinking of potty training any longer and the accidents will appear once again. This should encourage you to refine your training until your pup gets beyond this stage. They are not being spiteful nor are they choosing to be bad. They are growing and learning.
If a male pup is not neutered early you may find that suddenly he starts urinating or "marking" in the home. This is not unusual as his hormones come into play. I always recommend that youngsters be spayed/neutered prior to reaching sexual maturity if they are to be house pets. This not only helps with potty training but also with many other areas of training as they age.
Most of all patience, practice and know what to expect BEFORE bringing that pup home. Becoming frustrated with a learning pup does little more then upset him and delay the process. To expect a youngster to not have accidents is not realistic. If there is a problem dont blame him but relook at your training routine. Never punish your pup as he learns but use this as a reminder that you need to do a better job with your training and supervision.

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Comment by Sarah, Sadie & Dexter on May 8, 2013 at 10:29pm

My husband and I work during the day, so we keep our 10 week old puppy, Dexter, in a 8-panel playpen during the day. We have a potty pad in there, so he doesn't just pee/poop all over the tile. I have a 4 year old, Sadie, who has been potty trained for a long time and uses the dog door to go outside and "go potty." Ultimately, we would like Dexter to use the dog door to eliminate outside, but he doesn't have access to that during the day while we are at work. What would you recommend doing while he is in his play pen during the day?

Comment by Ken on March 29, 2012 at 3:28pm


Thanks for all of this wonderful information.  I have a question being a newbie Corgi parent...how do you get a Corgi to pee and poop in the same place outdoors?  I have a small "tan bark" area that Mr. Socks knows he should be "potting."  He has no problems in peeing there, but he often poops on the grass area, which is not where I want him to poop.  I'm tempted to use a leash, but I'm not too sure about his pooping schedule that I don't want him to be sitting in the "tan bark" area for a extended time and never poop.    He's pretty consistent with peeing on command, which relieves me tremendously, but it's only 1/2 of the equation.  Any advice?

Comment by Carry Mackenzie on March 2, 2011 at 12:32pm

Hi this article was very helpful, our little guy is lucky because I am here to take him out all day long, he is 3 months old now... 

Also if you have time for a question...  Our older dog is so so passive- not barking-not assertive she came out of a puppy mill & we have had her almost 1 yr...

Daisy is just 6 in another week & has never played as such she has started to like toys, treats & enjoys him in small doses but seems to like her space to just lie still...


My question is why does he go up to her & bite her face as she walks???  She does not really respond so now today I am telling him NO & he got the picture pretty quickly...  But why does he try to get her attention in such a way & is it right that I correct him not her, she will let him know- one time she started to bark at him- how did they train her in the puppy mill??? Its like they wanted her to become invisible... One other thing is if Daisy has a chew toy he wants the other end even if there are plenty more around- she will lick him & I think in general she likes having him here!!!

Comment by Rebecca Marie O'Bryan on January 23, 2010 at 12:28pm
this is wonderful information. i have potty trained my dachshund (which took 3months) but now he knows. and now that i have my corgi, i found that his bathroom habits are different and im still learning and watching for when he had to go. hes on a good schedule which helps so much. but not to sound dumb, i didnt know that u were not to let them play before they go, i did let him play hoping that him running around would make him go but it still takes forever. i will be out there for 20mins sometimes but its ok, hes still a baby:) thanks again for the info!
Comment by Jessica Good on December 22, 2009 at 5:58pm
This is great information. I'll have to remember it when I finally get my corgi puppy one of these days. =)
Comment by Sam on April 5, 2009 at 4:33pm
She acts like she doesnt know because she doesnt. My advice would be to start as if she was an 8 week old put. Put her on a very regular schedule of outings. Always after eating, when she wakes up from a nap and if you see her starting to do the tell tale sniff. Do not yell at her as that just causes fear and she will run. Scoop her up quickly and take her outside. Leash training would be a very big help. Put her on lead and tie her to you. This will help you keep your eye on her at all times and have the ability to get her outside immediately if she starts to go. This will also help you learn what her typical potty pattern is. It also has the wonderful benefit of adding to the bond that you are in the process of gaining at this time. When you leave the house she should be crated. Also good to take her out to do her business on lead so she does not have the ability to go exploring and play. Take her to the same spot each day so the familiar smell will be there. She can have play time after she goes. Good luck!
Comment by Destiny/Mini on April 5, 2009 at 1:42pm
thankyou for this info, but what if i got the pup at 4 months old and never had any potty training at all. She was in a house full of people that never had any schedule at all with going outside. She is now 6 months old and still just goes on floor right in front of me with no shame. Her ears don't even go down , it's like she doesn't think she's doing anything wrong. I yell "no not in the house!"...& put her outside but she'll ususally chase leaves or anything else that catches her eye till she lays in grass. I really need help.
Comment by Corgibyassociation on April 2, 2009 at 8:31am
Thanks, Sam.
Comment by LaVerne & Shirley on March 6, 2009 at 11:41am
I agree Sam. About the only accidents LaVerne has had in the house have been my mistakes. I let my guard down. One time in particular my son came home from school while she was napping. He came in and immediately started playing with her, racing and tearing around the house. I sat and watched them thinking to myself that I really should take her out to potty but they were having so much fun I would just wait. Well....about as soon as I thought that, she was running by, stopped dead in her tracks and peed. A look came across her face like Oh my Gosh.......I wet my pants! Poor thing knew she goofed but it was my goof. I took her outside w/o a word while my son cleaned it up. I felt bad to have inadvertently set her up for a failure. Live and learn.
Comment by Talula the tabby slayer on February 23, 2009 at 11:37am
Thanks for the advice-- we are doing all the right things, we just need to be patient. Talula's only 3 months old and it looks like we have some time to go! Amy

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