Can I Housebreak a Puppy Without A Crate?

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If you think that confining your puppy to a crate seems cruel and mean, think again. When used correctly, a crate is your pet companion's safe haven — you can have him sleep, play and travel in it, all while keeping him from getting in trouble and destroying your home.

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A crate is also the fastest route towards housebreaking your pup. However, if you haven't gotten your pup a crate yet or you're adamant that you'd like to try alternate housebreaking methods, there are other things you can do to keep your pup from leaving wet and smelly surprises all over the house.

Tip #1 - Put your puppy on a schedule so it becomes predictable when you walk, feed and play with him. Regular feedings result in regular elimination. Walk him at least every two hours, including after waking up in the morning, after playing, after eating and before and after confining him.


Tip #2 - Supervise your pet companion while he's roaming the house. Watch him like a hawk and when you catch him circling, sniffing or pacing, bring him to his designated potty area outside, because these are signs that he's about to go potty. Say "go potty," and wait so he can do his business in the designated area. Give him a treat and hug immediately after he eliminates. Repeat this tactic each time you suspect that he needs to go potty. Alternatively, use an indoor potty area, such as a puppy pad or newspapers, if you're trying to paper-train your pup.

Tip #3 - Stop your puppy in his tracks when you catch him eliminating in an unwanted area indoors. Clap your hands or stomp your feet and firmly say "na-ah." This will stop him from further eliminating. Immediately bring your puppy to his outdoor or indoor designated bathroom area and tell him to "go potty." Reward him after he finishes eliminating.


Tip #4 - Confine your pet companion to a small pet-proof area of the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room when you can't watch him for a short period of time. Use your puppy's age in months as a guideline -- a 2-month-old puppy can hold his bladder for two hours; a 3-month-old puppy can hold his bladder for three hours. Use a baby gate to block off the area and ensure that the space you confine him to is large enough so he can stand upright, lie down and turn around. Alternatively, use a large box.

Tip #5 - Confine your puppy to a larger pet-proof area, such as the kitchen, if you're going to be away for a long period of time. Spread several layers of newspaper on the floor on one side of the confinement space to act as a potty area. The area has to be large enough so your puppy can sleep and play at a distance from his potty area -- dogs dislike soiling the area that they eat, sleep and play in.


By Kimberly Caines

Paws: The Benefits of Crate Training
Hilltop Animal Hospital: A Practitioner's Guide to Housebreaking Puppies
The Humane Society of the United States: Housetraining Puppies

About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well-traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.