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Puppy Crate Training & Housebreaking

A puppy is one of the most exciting gifts you can get during the holidays. Since there are many families who may have gotten one themselves, now is probably the perfect time to talk about training. Even if you don’t have a new puppy, I frequently get asked to provide some tips and advice for a training refresher. While each puppy is unique in the behaviors and traits and I prefer to develop a custom routine for each one of my puppies, this is a baseline generalization, I hope this guide provides you with some helpful tips.

Bringing a new dog into the home is always a serious adjustment – but not just for you. The little one is entering a completely new environment, full of strangers, by themselves… wouldn’t you be a little nervous, too?

When it comes to training your new dog, the dynamic duo of crate training and housebreaking are going to set the foundation for your lives together. Achieving both of these early on will ensure your dog is feeling comfortable as soon as possible, It will also establish a schedule for you both to get used to.

Crate Training

Dogs have a natural den instinct, so providing a place that’s just for them will help make them feel at home early on. A crate will make them feel protected and provide a space of their own to curl up in. The best way to introduce the crate is by including some treats the first few times they go in. Once they’re inside, that natural den instinct is likely to take over. But stick around for a few minutes to make sure they’re comfortable.

The key to successful crate training is size. You definitely want them to be able to comfortably stand, sit and lie down – but, you don’t want one that’s too big. It’s important, especially for younger puppies, not have too much room that they’re not encouraged to use it as an indoor bathroom! Many crates have dividers that allow you to increase the crate size as your puppy grows.


This brings us to our other top priority in puppy training: housebreaking. This is by far one of the hardest milestones for new dog parents, but it comes with the territory. Consistency and routine are key here.

Establishing a daily schedule is the first step in successfully housebreaking your dog. I always recommend journaling the bathroom schedule throughout the day to establish a baseline. It will also help you get to know your dog’s normal routine.

To make things easier for yourself, be sure to always let your puppy out through the same door to the same area that you want her to use to go to the bathroom. Doing this ensures they will know where to lead you when they need to go in the future. Repetition, repetition, repetition…

Accidents are going to happen – there’s no use ignoring it. But there are definitely ways to cut down on the number of accidents. The first piece of advice is to take them outside frequently for potty breaks. Puppies need to go often and frequent visits outside allow you to catch them before they go inside the house. A good rule of thumb is to take your puppy, if its 8-12weeks out, every hour to an hour and a half.  Overnight should be the longest the puppy stays in the crate. 

Speaking of overnight, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of water your puppy can drink after dinner. I pick up the water after 7pm to ensure we have a good night sleep. If your dog seems really thirsty after you’ve picked up the water, you can offer her a piece of ice.

When your dog is not in its crate, don’t give them too much free range of the house. Keeping your puppy near you will help you keep an eye out for common signs your dog needs to go: circling, sniffing the floor, whining, or heading to the door. I’d love to hear if you have any tips and tricks of your own that have worked for you in the past!  

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