happy family with dog in clean home

Top Housebreaking Tips for a Clean and Happy Home

Housebreaking your dog is a crucial step in ensuring a clean and happy home. It requires consistency, patience, and the right tools. Whether you have a new puppy or an adult dog that needs some training, these top housebreaking tips will help you achieve success.

Key Takeaways

  • Using an enzymatic cleaner can effectively remove stains and odors, preventing your dog from returning to the same spot.
  • A dog crate provides a safe space for your dog and helps establish a routine for bathroom breaks.
  • Baby gates can help you limit your dog’s access to certain areas of the house, making supervision easier.
  • Puppy pads are useful for training your dog to go to the bathroom in a designated area, especially when you can’t take them outside.
  • Treats and positive reinforcement are essential for encouraging good behavior and making housebreaking a positive experience for your dog.

1. Enzymatic Cleaner

An enzymatic cleaner is a must-have for any pet owner. These cleaners are specially formulated to break down the proteins in pet urine, feces, and vomit, effectively removing stains and odors. This is crucial because dogs have a much more sensitive sense of smell than humans do.

Why Use an Enzymatic Cleaner?

Using an enzymatic cleaner ensures that your dog doesn’t start to associate certain spots in your home with bathroom activities. Regular antibacterial sprays might not dissolve all the enzymes, leaving behind traces that your dog can detect.

How to Use It

  1. If you catch your dog pottying indoors, don’t scold or punish them. Instead, prompt them to move outside.
  2. Clean up the area immediately using paper towels to soak up as much urine as possible.
  3. Apply the enzymatic cleaner generously to the affected area.
  4. Let it sit for the recommended amount of time before blotting it up.

Tips for Effective Cleaning

  • Always follow the instructions on the cleaner’s label.
  • For old stains, you might need to apply the cleaner more than once.
  • Make sure to clean all areas where your dog has previously had accidents to remove all traces of the smell.

Using an enzymatic cleaner not only keeps your home clean but also helps in training your dog by eliminating odors that attract them to the same spot.

2. Dog Crate

Dog crates are a fantastic tool to use during housebreaking if used correctly. Dogs rarely soil their own beds, so a crate can help manage their natural instincts. Think of a crate as a den, not a condo! The right size crate will discourage your dog from using one corner as a bathroom and the other as a sleeping area.

Using the Crate

Most crates come with a puppy divider to gradually increase the size of the crate as your dog grows. This ensures your puppy doesn’t have too much space, which could lead to accidents. Most dogs won’t want to mess where they sleep, so being in just enough space to spread out and lay flat is a good way to dissuade them from going in their crate.

Crate Size

When thinking of the size of a crate needed for your dog, think small. The use of too large a crate for a puppy will encourage the pet to use a small portion of it for a bed and the remainder as a relief station!

Getting Your Dog Used to the Crate

If your dog isn’t used to a dog crate, refer to our ‘indoor kennel’ leaflet to help them get used to being left in there for short periods. It’s important to help them feel comfortable, otherwise they may become distressed which can lead to toileting.

We take advantage of a very natural instinct of the dog: his desire to keep his sleeping quarters clean. This becomes his bed that he cannot get out of. If the dog crate is the right size, he will not soil it. Puppies may not initially like it, but within a few days, they will accept it without a problem.

3. Baby Gate

A baby gate is an essential tool for housebreaking your puppy. It helps to limit access to certain areas of your home, making it easier to manage the environment and prevent accidents. By closing off rooms and using barriers like baby gates, you can create a safe and controlled space for your puppy to roam. This is especially useful when you can’t supervise your puppy closely.

Benefits of Using a Baby Gate

  • Prevents free roaming of the house
  • Helps in managing the environment
  • Creates a controlled space for the puppy

How to Use a Baby Gate Effectively

  1. Place the baby gate at the entrance of rooms you want to keep off-limits.
  2. Ensure the gate is securely installed to prevent your puppy from knocking it over.
  3. Use the gate to section off areas with nonporous hard flooring, which is easier to clean.
  4. Gradually increase your puppy’s freedom as they prove to be accident-free.

Using a baby gate can make housebreaking much easier and less stressful for both you and your puppy. It allows you to give your puppy some freedom while still keeping them in a safe, controlled environment.

4. Puppy Pads

puppy using training pads in a clean home

Puppy pads can be a convenient option for housebreaking, especially in the early stages. However, it’s important to use them wisely to avoid long-term issues.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
    • Convenient for apartment living
    • Useful during harsh weather
    • Helps with initial training
  • Cons:
    • Can be unsightly and smelly
    • May confuse your puppy about where it’s okay to go
    • Potential for spills if not used correctly

Tips for Effective Use

  1. Place the pad inside a lowered storage bin or cat litter tray to help your dog differentiate between the pad and the carpet.
  2. Consider using a substrate that’s vastly different from indoor flooring, such as grass or recycled paper.
  3. Gradually transition your puppy to outdoor potty training to avoid long-term dependency on the pads.

While puppy pads can be an easy option at first, they can become a hindrance for long-term housebreaking. Use them wisely and always aim to transition your puppy to outdoor potty training as soon as possible.

5. Leash and Collar

When it comes to housebreaking your puppy, a leash and collar are indispensable tools. They help you maintain control and guide your puppy during training sessions. Consistency is key when using these tools, as it helps establish a routine and reinforces positive behavior.

Types of Leashes

There are various types of leashes available, each serving a different purpose:

  • Leather Leashes
  • BioThane Leashes
  • Long Lines
  • Slip Leads
  • Prong Collar Leashes
  • Leash Accessories

Types of Collars

Similarly, collars come in different styles to suit your puppy’s needs:

  • Leather Collars
  • Prong Collars
  • Remote Collars
  • Slip Collars
  • Fur Savers
  • Collar Accessories

Using the Leash and Collar Effectively

To make the most out of your leash and collar, follow these tips:

  1. Always supervise your puppy when they are on a leash.
  2. Use the leash to guide your puppy to the designated potty area.
  3. Reward your puppy with treats and praise when they follow commands.
  4. Avoid using the leash for punishment; it should be a tool for guidance and safety.

A leash and collar are not just for walks; they are essential for the introduction to housebreaking a puppy for a cleaner home environment. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and realistic expectations are key for successful training. Establishing routine and using proper cleaning methods are essential.

6. Treats

When it comes to housebreaking, treats are your best friend. They serve as a powerful motivator for your dog to learn and follow commands. High-value training treats are particularly effective because they are irresistible to dogs.

Types of Treats

There are various types of treats you can use, including:

  • Freeze-dried liver
  • Green beef tripe
  • Hot dogs
  • Leftover chicken or steak
  • Cheese

How to Use Treats Effectively

  1. Always reward your dog immediately after they perform the desired behavior.
  2. Use small, bite-sized treats to avoid overfeeding.
  3. Keep a bait bag or treat pouch handy for quick access.

Benefits of Using Treats

Treats not only make training sessions more enjoyable for your dog but also help in building a positive association with good behavior. This can speed up the housebreaking process significantly.

Remember, consistency is key. The more consistent you are with rewarding good behavior, the quicker your dog will learn.

Choosing the Right Treats

Opt for treats that are healthy and easy to digest. Avoid treats with too many artificial ingredients or fillers. High-value treats like freeze-dried liver or leftover chicken are excellent choices.

7. Clicker

A clicker is a small, handheld device that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. It’s an essential tool for clicker training, a popular method for teaching dogs new behaviors and reinforcing good habits.

How to Use a Clicker

Using a clicker is simple and effective. Here are the steps:

  1. Press the clicker the moment your dog performs the desired behavior.
  2. Immediately follow the click with a treat to reinforce the behavior.
  3. Repeat consistently to help your dog associate the click with positive outcomes.

Benefits of Clicker Training

Clicker training offers several benefits:

  • Precision: The click sound is unique and consistent, making it easy for dogs to understand exactly what behavior is being rewarded.
  • Speed: The immediate feedback helps dogs learn faster.
  • Positive Reinforcement: This method focuses on rewarding good behavior, which can lead to a happier and more confident dog.

Clicker training can be a game-changer in your housebreaking journey, making the process smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

Tips for Success

  • Start with simple commands and gradually move to more complex behaviors.
  • Keep training sessions short and fun to maintain your dog’s interest.
  • Be patient and consistent; every dog learns at their own pace.

8. Timer

A timer can be an incredibly useful tool when housebreaking your dog. Setting a timer helps you stay consistent with potty breaks, which is crucial for training success. Some parents like to set a timer and put their child on the potty every 20 or 30 minutes. This method can be adapted for your pup as well.

How to Use a Timer

  1. Set a schedule: Create a daily routine that includes regular potty breaks. For example, take your dog outside first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime.
  2. Use the timer: Set the timer to remind you of these scheduled breaks. This ensures you don’t forget and helps your dog learn when it’s time to go outside.
  3. Adjust as needed: If the two-hour rhythm works well, switch to a three to four-hour rhythm for another week or so and then switch to a flexible schedule suiting you.

Benefits of Using a Timer

  • Consistency: Regular breaks help your dog understand when and where they should go potty.
  • Reduced accidents: Frequent potty breaks can minimize the chances of indoor accidents.
  • Stress reduction: A predictable schedule can make housebreaking less stressful for both you and your dog.

Allow for plentiful potty opportunities around potty-stimulating activities. Provide bathroom breaks within 15 minutes of waking, eating, drinking, or higher excitement activity, including play.

9. Cleaning Supplies

Keeping your home clean while housebreaking your puppy is essential. A well-stocked cleaning arsenal can make this task much easier and more efficient. Here are some must-have cleaning supplies to consider:

Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners are a lifesaver when it comes to removing pet stains and odors. These cleaners break down the proteins in urine, feces, and vomit, eliminating the smell and discouraging your puppy from soiling the same spot again.

Stain and Odor Removers

In addition to enzymatic cleaners, having a good stain and odor remover is crucial. These products are designed to tackle tough stains and leave your home smelling fresh.

Paper Towels and Rags

You’ll need plenty of paper towels and rags for quick clean-ups. They’re perfect for blotting up messes before applying your cleaning solutions.

Disinfectant Sprays

Disinfectant sprays are essential for sanitizing areas where your puppy has had an accident. They help to kill germs and keep your home hygienic.

Rubber Gloves

Protect your hands with a sturdy pair of rubber gloves. This will make the cleaning process more comfortable and hygienic.

Mop and Bucket

A good mop and bucket are indispensable for cleaning up larger messes. Make sure to use pet-safe cleaning solutions to avoid any harm to your puppy.

Regular cleaning not only keeps your home looking great but also contributes to your puppy’s overall hygiene and well-being. Housebreaking a puppy involves regular exercise, mental stimulation, grooming, hygiene, vet visits, and nutrition for a healthy and well-trained companion.

10. Dog Bed

A dog bed is more than just a place for your pup to sleep; it’s their personal sanctuary. Choosing the right dog bed can make a significant difference in your dog’s comfort and overall happiness. Here’s our guide on how to choose the best dog bed for your dog! We cover factors to consider like types of dog beds, bedding material, size, and sturdiness.

Types of Dog Beds

There are various types of dog beds available, from standard cushion beds to orthopedic and heated beds. Each type serves a different purpose and caters to different needs.

Bedding Material

The material of the bed is crucial for your dog’s comfort. Options range from memory foam to cotton and even water-resistant fabrics. Choose a material that suits your dog’s needs and your cleaning preferences.

Size and Sturdiness

Make sure the bed is the right size for your dog. A bed that’s too small won’t be comfortable, and one that’s too large may not provide the security your dog craves. Sturdiness is also important, especially for dogs that like to chew or dig.

A good dog bed can help your dog feel secure and comfortable, making housebreaking easier and more effective.


Housebreaking your dog might seem like a daunting task at first, but with consistency, patience, and the right approach, it can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Remember, every dog is different, and what works for one might not work for another. Stay positive, celebrate the small victories, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a clean and happy home. Happy training!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best type of cleaner for pet accidents?

Enzymatic cleaners are the best for pet accidents as they break down the proteins in urine and feces, effectively removing stains and odors.

How can a dog crate help in housebreaking?

A dog crate can help in housebreaking by providing a confined space where your dog can learn to control their bladder and bowel movements. Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area.

Why should I use a baby gate during housebreaking?

A baby gate helps to limit your dog’s access to certain areas of the house, making it easier to supervise and prevent accidents.

Are puppy pads useful for housebreaking?

Yes, puppy pads can be useful for housebreaking, especially for young puppies or when you can’t take them outside frequently. They provide a designated spot for your dog to relieve themselves.

What role does a leash and collar play in housebreaking?

A leash and collar are essential for taking your dog outside for potty breaks, ensuring they stay safe and close to you while they learn where they should go.

How can treats aid in housebreaking my dog?

Treats can be used as positive reinforcement to reward your dog for going potty in the correct spot, making them more likely to repeat the behavior.

What is the purpose of using a clicker in housebreaking?

A clicker can be used to mark the exact moment your dog does something right, such as going potty outside. This helps them understand what behavior is being rewarded.

Why is it important to have cleaning supplies on hand during housebreaking?

Having cleaning supplies on hand is important to quickly and effectively clean up any accidents, preventing stains and odors from setting in and discouraging your dog from soiling the same spot again.