How to Housebreak a Puppy If You Work All Day

Puppies need boundaries and supervision until they are older.

Puppies need boundaries and supervision until they are older.

Puppies are a sweet and often irresistible addition to a household. But, like all babies, they need to be trained to use the bathroom properly, and in the correct place. While being at work for hours makes the process difficult, consistency is the key to training your new pup.

Create a small, gated area -- approximately three feet by five feet -- where the puppy can be confined. This can also be a crate. The floor should be covered with something that is safe from accidents, such as vinyl in the kitchen. The puppy will not want to soil his living area, so keeping it small will help discourage accidents.

Cover the floor with several layers of newspapers to contain any accidents the puppy has during the day while you are at work. If he does have an accident on these -- and if he is by himself for more than a few hours, it needs to be expected -- take them to his bathroom spot; the smell will help him associate that this is where he is supposed to eliminate.

Place a soft bed in one corner of this area for the puppy to sleep in; it should be made of fabric that can be easily washed and dried.

Begin an immediate routine with the new puppy to avoid accidents. Feed him, walk him and play with him on a regular schedule around your job. Assume that he can only hold his bladder for one hour multiplied by his age; so at two months, he will need to go outside every two hours.

Pick a spot that will be the puppy's bathroom and take him to it every two hours, on his leash, when you are home with him -- especially after he eats, drinks or wakes up.

Do not yell at the puppy if you catch him going to the bathroom in his confined area; instead, firmly say "No", take him outside to his bathroom area, and praise him when he finishes going there. Allow him to play outside with you for a few minutes so that he associates going outside with also getting to play; this can help him avoid going on the floor.

Watch your puppy closely when you are home with him for any sign that he needs to go outside; this could include pacing, scratching at the door or whining. Immediately take him outside and praise him when he uses the proper bathroom spot.

Avoid feeding your puppy right before you leave for work; he will usually need to use the bathroom within an hour of eating.

Items you will need

  • Gate or crate
  • Newspapers
  • Pet bed
  • Leash


  • For young puppies, you will need to expect accidents; or, you can have someone take the puppy out every two hours for you during your work shift.
  • Smaller breeds can be litter box or paper trained; simply take the dog to that area as their bathroom spot, rather than going outdoors.


  • Puppies cannot completely control their bowels until at least three months of age.
  • Training a puppy to use newspapers inside the house can cause him to become reliant on it during his lifetime.

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About the Author

Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."

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