Puppy Housebreaking Schedule Best Practices

Puppy housebreaking can be a challenge since puppies aren't born knowing where to relieve themselves. Through consistency and patience, however, you can teach your puppy not to have accidents in the house.

Eating Schedule

The most important schedule to consider when setting your puppy's bathroom regimen is his eating schedule. Most puppies eat three times daily: once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.

Keep these mealtimes at the same time each day to ensure that your puppy will have to relieve himself at the same time. This will make it easier for you to predict when your puppy will go, anticipate his needs and take him outside before he has a chance to make a mistake.

Remember that puppies shouldn't go longer than 12 hours without eating, so schedule the evening and morning meals accordingly. Plan the evening meal early in the evening so your puppy won't have to relieve himself at 2 or 3 a.m.

Setting a Schedule

The size and age of your puppy will largely dictate his bathroom schedule. A puppy can generally hold it an hour for each month of their life, up to eight months, but smaller breed puppies have smaller bladders and may not be able to hold it as long.

Take your puppy out soon after eating, drinking or playing and repeat that within an hour or so until you figure out your dog's individual pattern. Many puppies will relieve themselves two or three times before they are finished, so don't bring your dog back inside just because he has peed once. Get to know your individual puppy.

Record how often your dog relieves himself, what time and which business he does each time. Keep this schedule for at least a couple of weeks so that you can recognize the pattern. As your puppy gets larger, you will be able to cut out some of these visits. Take your puppy out at least 10 minutes before he would normally go. This prevents him from making mistakes in the house. If your puppy never learns he can go in the house, he never will.

Recognizing Signals

Every schedule has the potential to break down, because your puppy isn't aware that he is on a schedule. Because of this, never leave your puppy unsupervised until he is completely potty trained. Always keep him in the room you are in, tethered to your belt if necessary.

If you can't supervise your puppy, put him in his crate or a small X-pen with a bed, a potty pad and a small room to play. Leave him in the X-pen if you are going to be gone more than four hours.

If your puppy starts sniffing or turning in a circle, even if it's not a time when he usually relieves himself, take him outside immediately. Don't carry him, but run him to the door at which you eventually want him to beg. Take him out this door every time so he's used to going to that door each time he feels the call of nature.

If you stick to your schedule, you will have a potty trained dog by a few months old. You can start to give your dog more freedom once you have gone at least a month accident-free. If he makes a mistake, immediately go back to your schedule and restrict his freedom for a few more weeks.