You can housebreak a puppy without using a crate. Simply establish a feeding and potty-break schedule to teach your puppy a routine, and give him hearty praise every time he does his business in the right spot. Some dogs take longer than others to housebreak, so remain patient.
Put your puppy on a regular schedule for feeding and potty breaks, and stick to it. Establish feeding times and count on your puppy needing to evacuate between five to 30 minutes after eating. You may want to take your puppy outside every two hours during the day as you begin training, extending the length of time between breaks an hour each week until you're on a suitable schedule that doesn't change from day to day. Ultimately your puppy will be conditioned to eliminate during these times.
Establish a regular spot outside for your puppy to take care of business. Take him to this spot and wait until he actually gets busy. Your dog will associate the smell of that spot as a place to go to the bathroom. Always take him to the same general spot so he learns this is where he is supposed to evacuate.
Take your puppy outside first thing every morning and after every nap. Also, take your puppy outside every night before bed. Give him some time to go to the bathroom and stay outside for several minutes, as it is likely he may need to go more than once. Allow him enough time to finish and sniff around, familiarizing himself with the surroundings and making himself comfortable enough to get busy.
Reward your puppy for going to the bathroom outside: Praise your dog by petting him and telling him he is a good dog. Give a small treat each time he goes to the bathroom outside as you train. He will associate doing his business outside with positive reinforcement and treats.
Startle your puppy with a loud noise if you catch him in the act of using the indoors or an undesignated outdoor area as a bathroom. Don’t scare him; rather, take him outside immediately to finish. If you scare him, he may associate going to the bathroom as a bad thing to do. Puppies will make mistakes, but focus on praising for going where he should rather than punishing or getting angry or excited when he goes where he should not.
- Clean accident spots thoroughly so the scent does not linger. Lingering scent encourages a puppy to return to the same spot.
- Never get angry with your dog. Not all dogs learn at the same pace. Housebreaking might take several weeks or months, depending on the breed, his personality and your consistency with maintaining a routine.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.