House Breaking Manual for Exercise Pen


Housebreaking is simply teaching your dog/puppy to understand that you want him to relieve himself in a certain spot and getting him to accept the idea that he must wait to be taken to the spot or go there himself. Since this is the first “formal” training which you teach your puppy, housebreaking is the basis for your puppy’s future attitude toward training. This is the beginning of the teaching relationship with your puppy.

Your housebreaking and future obedience training should be based on four important principals:


Becoming angry with your puppy, hitting, shouting or using force may get rid of your anxiety but will cause your puppy to become fearful, resentful, shy or even aggressive. This will make training difficult. A positive, consistent and gentle approach will result in a well-adjusted, friendly and reliable companion.


Before you begin housebreaking, be sure your puppy receives a thorough checkup from a Veterinarian. Illness or worms can cause diarrhea and this can make it very hard for your puppy to control his needs.

Dog Food

Choose a food that agrees with your puppy. On the top of the list of recommendations is a Raw Diet. Especially if your dog is eliminating more than three times per day, in his crate when you leave or if the stools are not firm or if he drinks a lot of water. Kibble will make a dog thirsty, more drinking is more urinating. If you do not want to feed raw, the only other kibble I can recommend is Annapet. Do not buy a supermarket brand of dog food because they are very fibrous and may cause your puppy to relieve himself more than usual. Do not feed Can food if at all possible. Can food is 75% moisture (water!) and will make your puppy have to urinate quite often. Once you pick a food, do not change your puppy’s diet even for one day. The stomach of a puppy cannot handle the stress that a change in dog food brings. If you must change your puppy’s food, change it gradually over a period of time.

Eliminate table scraps if you do not want your puppy to grow up to be a fussy eater. Feeding your puppy scraps off the table could lead to future problems. Many puppies that are fed from the table learn to beg for food, which will always be a hassle.


There are many housebreaking aids on the market. I recommend some but as with everything, something different works with each dog. Of the training aids which I believe work (1) Wee Wee pads – scented pads which you lay on the floor or ground like newspaper and the scent encourages the dog to relieve himself on the pad. These pads can be used indoors or outdoors. (2) Housebreaking Spray – a spray to use either on paper or anywhere outdoors which will scent the area to encourage the puppy to relieve himself on the pad.

The “Restroom”

Have a designated restroom, I use an Exercise pen (a play pen without a bottom). This pen can be used indoors for dogs that go indoors, or outdoors for teaching your puppy to go to the bathroom outside. Leave some feces in the pen or keep a pad with a urine smell/stain on it in the pen and walk your puppy to that pen each time. Encourage your puppy by commanding him to “hurry up” in a calm, quiet tone of voice. Your puppy will smell the feces and the urine and realize what he should do. If you use an Exercise Pen, this in essence becomes your dog’s bathroom; he realizes when he does in there, he must go to the bathroom. Once your dog is trained, you can remove the pen and your dog will still go to the same spot.

If you puppy is ‘missing the pad’ or playing with the pad , take 6 or 8 pads, and tape them together underneath with duct tape; in essence make a big blanket out of the pads. Place the pen on top of the pads and make sure the pads edges are outside the pen so he can’t grab them to pay. Every month, remove one pad and make the ‘blanket’ smaller until you only have one pad in there. If you are training your puppy to go outdoors, you can remove all the pads at one point.

If your breeder used something other than pads for your dog to go to the bathroom on; for example hamster bedding or wood ships, then the bedding they used should go in your exercise pen.

Temporary Use of Paper

If your goal is to have your puppy go to the bathroom outdoors, I do not recommend using wee wee pads indoors because then you must house-train him twice. First you must teach him to relieve himself on the pad inside and then to relieve himself on the pad outdoors. But if you bought your puppy in the winter he may be too young to go outdoors. It is ok to use wee wee pads outdoors as well.

Beach Umbrella

Some dogs will not go to the bathroom outside if it is raining. You can buy a top for your exercise pen so it stays dry or use a beach /pool umbrella with a stand to keep it covered.

Crate Training

YOU MUST HAVE A CRATE. Divide your crate so it is only big enough for the puppy to lie down and turn around. Use your crate at night and when you cannot supervise. All other times, keep the puppy on a leash at your side.


If your puppy does have an accident in the house, buy a good cleaner/neutralizer from your pet store that is made especially for removing the smell of urine or feces. Do not use ammonia. Urine contains ammonia thereby encouraging your puppy to relieve himself in the same spot again. If you remove the remaining odors, your puppy will not be tempted to relieve himself there again.

There are many good cleaning products on the market. Call us or stop by our pet store and I will advise you of the best product to clean and to discourage your puppy from visiting that area again.

Feeding & Watering your Puppy

  • Feed at specific times each day (i.e. 9 AM, 12 PM, 5PM). If you miss a feeding time, skip it until next meal. By the time your puppy is 4 ½ or 5 months old, he should be eating only 2 times per day. If you give treats and cookies throughout the day – that could interfere with the times he has bowel movements.
  • Keep food and water down for 5 minutes and then remove EVEN IF YOUR PUPPY DID NOT EAT OR DRINK
  • Give the puppy water only when eating or after extensive exercise if panting.DO NOT LEAVE WATER DOWN ALL DAY LONG FOR THE PUPPY TO DRINK AND DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OR WATER IN THE CRATE WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT HOME. A bored puppy will constantly eat or drink.
  • Feed the puppy in his crate. Clean dogs will not mess where they eat and/orsleep

A puppy will tend to sleep longer if his stomach is full. A hungry puppy (just like a baby) will constantly wake up in the middle of the night. A 10 pm feeding may keep your puppy sleeping until 5 or 6 am. But each puppy is different. Experimenting with different situations will let you know your puppy’s needs.

Log Book

Keep a written daily time log of bowel movements, urination times (even if it is an accident), the times your puppy eats and drinks. After 4 or 5 days, of specific feeding/watering times, you should be able to figure out your puppy’s schedule. Take your puppy outside prior to the scheduled times.

Log book (Example)

Jul 7 6:30 Atook puppy out when I woke upurinated and had bowel movement – yeah
Jul 7 6:45Afed breakfast
Jul 7 7:00Aaccident in houseurinated while playing after eating
Jul 7 7:50Atook puppy outsideurinated again
Jul 7 8:00Apuppy in crate
Jul 7 12:15Ptook puppy outsideurinated and bowel movement
Jul7 12:25Pfed lunch
Jul 7 12:43Ptook puppy outsideurinated and bowel movement
Jul 7 1:00Ppuppy in crate
Jul 7 4:30Ptook puppy outsideurinated and bowel movement
Jul 7 5:45Paccident in houseurinated while playing w/ the children
Jul 7 7:30Pfed dinner
Jul 7 7:45Ptook puppy outurinated and bowel movement
Jul 7 8:50Paccident in housepuppy playing in house


Middle of the Night

Housebreaking will require you to wake up in the middle of the night to ‘walk’ your puppy. But this is not a permanent situation, only until your puppy’s bladder and self control grows. Because your must ‘walk’ him at night, allow the puppy to sleep in your room (in a crate) so you will hear him stir and/or cry when he has to relieve himself. A puppy or young dog cannot go 6-8 hours without relieving themselves, their bladders are too small. So waking them up to relieve themselves will save you cleaning time. If you are a sound sleeper, set your alarm for 2 or 3 am and wake the puppy up to go outside. Again, this is a temporary situation until your puppy can hold his bowels. It is impossible for a puppy to hold his bowels for 6-8 hours.


A puppy or confused dog should be walked every hour (night and day). It is better to prevent an accident than to correct it. I recommend that you give your puppy a lot of exercise prior to bedtime in order for him to sleep through the night. REMEMBER – A TIRED PUPPY IS A GOOD PUPPY


Before you leave your home puppy, take your puppy to the pen and encourage him to relieve himself. When you leave, do not give him the run of the house but confine him either in a cage. A puppy (unless raised in unsanitary conditions or taught to eliminate in a cage) will not relieve himself where he must sleep. Dogs are den animals and will adjust to being left in a cage or small room. You should also confine your puppy when you cannot supervise him or if he didn’t relieve himself outside. If you are working around the house confine him so he will not run off to some corner of your home and relieve himself. However, if your puppy is confined for more than 8 hours a day, he will become nervous and excited if you confine him when you are home also.


Keep an eye on your puppy, especially after he wakes up, plays, eats or drinks. Feed and give him water the same time each day. Take him out immediately after eating or drinking. Most pups have to go to the bathroom after playtime, eating, sleeping, excitement, etc. It is up to you to write down his schedule and understand your own puppy. Each puppy is different, each puppy has a different metabolism and the size of his or her bladder is different. KNOW YOUR PUPPY!If you play with your puppy or walk him outside, allow him time to go to the bathroom again before your bring him inside.

The Act

Use a command in a quiet tone while he is going to the bathroom (i.e. “Hurry up”) and do not play with him before hand. Play after he has gone to the bathroom. Encourage him w/ quiet praise after he relieves himself. Do not give treats or your puppy will always be thinking about the food and not relieving himself completely;only use calm praise. If your puppy will not go to the bathroom or wants to play, place him inside his crate for 5 minutes and then try again.


If you catch your puppy in the act of an accident, do not charge him or shout. This will teach your puppy to not relieve himself in front of you and that will hurt your housebreaking because he will not relieve himself in front of you outside either. Instead, clap your hands and distract him or pick him up. Immediately take him to his ‘bathroom’.

Read Your Log Book

Play with your feeding schedule alsosome pups have a bowel movement immediately after eating some do not. Try and feed the last meal to get you through the night. Whether that means feeding early so he has a bowel movement before bedtime or later because he sleeps better on a full stomach.Some pups do not relieve themselves completely when taken out. YOU MUST KNOW YOUR PUPPY. Some puppies urinate, play and then have a bowel movement. Or need to have 2 bowel movements. If they urinate and then come inside and go again, you need to wait for your puppy to urinate two times before giving him free range. Or if you bring him in, place him in the crate, wait 3-5 minutes and bring him out again. A puppy’s attention span is small so you must learn his habits.If you are on a tight feeding/watering schedule and your puppy still is not on a bathroom schedule, be sure no one is giving him extra food or water. Check with your Vet to be sure he is worm free and that he is healthy. Initially, you are the one being trained.


Try to learn your puppy’s signals. He may let you know he has to relieve himself by sniffing, whining, pacing, acting restless, walking away from you or running towards the door. When your puppy gives you a signal, encourage him and give him recognition immediately. Talk happily and keep his attention on you, but hurry he is not going to be able to hold it for long.

Leash Control

It is important to keep your puppy next to you at all times. Keep a leash on your puppy and keep him at your side. This way your puppy cannot escape to a quiet corner and relieve himself. Pay attention to your puppy, if you must leave him for a second, remove his leash so he doesn’t get caught on something or better yet, place him in a crate. Most puppies will not go to the bathroom on leash because the leash is new to them; make sure you remove the leash in the Exercise Pen or his “bathroom”.

If your puppy has completely relieved himself, allow him the freedom of the room that you are in without the leash. If your puppy has not completely relieved himself, keep him on a leash at your side or confined in his crate.

If your puppy signals but refuses to relieve himself, keep him on a leash at your side in your home until he signals again.


1. Your puppy will not relieve himself in front of you.You might have corrected him for relieving himself in front of you in the house. Leave him in his pen and walk away, do not stare at him and remember to praise when you find it.

2. Your puppy is nervous or frightened because of training.You might have over corrected. Reread the introduction and praise sections.