German Shepherd Dog

Tips for Housetraining Happiness

By Gene R. Sower


How old should your puppy be before you begin housebreaking? Start as early as you can but don’t expect results until the pup is about 14 weeks old. Before 14 weeks your pup cannot physically hold it in. Then why start early you may ask? Well, even though your pup may not be physically able to hold it in, she’ll at least begin learning what’s expected of her. Consider any training before 14 weeks to be “pre-school”. When her physical abilities catch up with what you taught her, it will make it that much easier to put the lessons into practice.


As I’m fond of saying, “what goes in must come out”. To help you figure out the best times to get your dog to go to the bathroom it’s important to feed your dog at the same times every day. This is the ideal time to practice the housebreaking lessons. For your dog’s comfort it’s also a good idea to feed your dog in the same place every day, a place that they will identify as their eating spot. With your puppy, there’s a very short time between eating and eliminating. Figure around 15 – 20 minutes. When feeding your dog, give her 15-20 minutes and then pick up the uneaten portion (if any). This will also teach your dog to eat when fed. Again, these rules can be relaxed once your dog is housebroken but for now it’s key to establish a routine.


Until your dog is housebroken, also avoid treats and in-between meal snacks. The whole idea is to feed your dog, observe them constantly for the 15 -20 minutes after they eat and then bring them to the place where you want them to do their business. Do it like clockwork and you’ll be putting your puppy in a position to succeed. This is all about setting expectations and teaching your eager learner to do what you want. And when they do, praise them wildly. Make it seem like that little pee or poop that they did is the greatest and most magnificent thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Your friends and neighbors may think you’re crazy, but I can’t stress enough the power of praise. It’s what your puppy craves. Give it to her in generous amounts.


If you’re considering crate training your dog as a means of housetraining, keep in mind that the size of crate you choose is very important. A good rule of thumb about size is: the crate should only be big enough for the dog to comfortably stand up and turn around in. You don’t want the crate so big that the dog will mess at one end and sleep at the other. For large-sized breeds that will continue to grow substantially, you may need to buy a larger size later on if you intend for your dog to continue using the crate after it is housetrained.


Have you tried getting rid of pet odors in your home but for some reason the smell continues to linger? Not only is the odor unpleasant but unless you completely remove it from wherever it’s coming from your dog will think that that smelly spot is an OK place to keep soiling. After all, it smells like somebody peed there, right?

That’s probably because you missed the spot.

The problem sometimes is that you can’t see pet stains. And if you can’t see them you can’t clean them.

Using a blacklight will reveal those hidden stains. Here’s how:

DIRECTIONS: Simply shine the BLACKLIGHT on the surface where you are trying to locate sources of odors. The BLACKLIGHT shows these stains as greenish/yellow.

TURN OFF ALL THE LIGHTS : Best to use the BLACKLIGHT in the evening. Works best in a COMPLETELY DARK or VERY dimly lit room. Hold the BLACKLIGHT 1 to 2 feet above the surface. DO NOT USE IN A WELL-LIT ROOM!


Urinating on the floor when you come home and greet your dog is called SUBMISSIVE URINATION and is NOT related to housebreaking. This is an entirely different topic with it’s own set of problems and solutions. The point of mentioning it here is so that you recognize the condition if it exists and not confuse the two as they are completely different and separate issues. You can find additional free information here:

Remember to be generous with your praise and use lots of positive reinforcement. It’s all about putting your dog in a position to do the right thing and then observing them in the act of doing the RIGHT thing and praising them wildly. Because remember: dogs don’t know from spite. They want nothing more than to please you. You just have to show them the way!

Happy Housetraining!

Gene R. Sower
Gene is the author of Happy Housetraining, an ebook aimed at housetraining your dog easily and effectively.
Happy Housetraining E-Book – Train your Dog Easily and Effectively

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