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  • Writer's pictureJeryl

Housebreaking Methods

There are many ways to housebreak a dog, different people have different opinions on what housebreaking means and how to define a housebroken dog. To us from the perspective of a trainer, a 100% housebroken dog should be able to fulfill these criteria:

1) Pee and poo on the spot chosen, if it is trained to do business on pee tray, the dog should be able to do it on any pee tray wherever it goes. Same thing goes for grass, pee pads etc.

2) Holding pee/poo when there are no available spot. A healthy dog should also be able to hold between 15 mins to an hour when no pee/poo spot is available. This includes marking.

3) Going back to the designated spot even when there are obstacles. This is especially so for dogs that are trained to do business in crate/room/play pen, a housebroken dog should be able to go back into their crates to do business during free roaming. For those that have a yard with fencing or doors leading to the area, the dog should be able to go back to the designated area during free roaming to do business without requiring any guidance (of course the doors should be unlocked and kept open at all times).

If a dog is unable to fulfill any 1 of the 3 criteria stated above, then it isn't fully housebroken. Housebreaking a dog fully can take an between an average of 2 to 6 months. I personally wouldn't believe any owners telling me their dogs are fully housebroken by them within 3 days, usually these dogs are those that had been undergoing proper housebreaking setup when they are with the breeders/pet store, or their personalities are naturally hygienic which result in fast track towards being toilet trained. That being said, we still consider those dogs as partially housebroken and not fully housebroken, there's quite a bit of difference in these terms.

If you have plans to housebreak your dog, be prepared to work with your family or trainer (we have the perfect course here) to train your dog for about 3 weeks before you see results, and at least 2 - 6 months to housebreak your dog completely.


Getting a dog should always be a family commitment, it is best not to have anyone in your family that doesn't like dogs. Because dogs are pack animals, they treat every single one in the family as a pack, anyone who hates the dog, or distance from the dog is considered breaking away from the pack, the dog might then feel stressed and start to show negative behavior like fear and/or aggression towards that person, it might even lead to depression long term wise. You also should reduce miscommunications within the family as much as possible, always discuss methods as a family and work towards that single goal before moving on to others, methods should also be tried and given at least 3 weeks before deeming it unsuitable.


Every individual dog has it's own character and habit, sure enough some methods might work certain dogs and fail on others, but we still find that it is usually the owners that have issues, not the dog. For example, an owner wanted his dog to be able to do business on grasses and asked why the dog always pee and poop all over the house instead, when asked, "how many times had you brought your dog to the grass daily?", he said once a day because he was busy with work and was unable to bring his dog down often. You see, it is the owner that didn't have the time to bring the dog down frequently, it is not the dog's fault to be unable to hold it's urge. And yet when suggested about adding a crate to help with training, the owner complained it is ugly. Once again it is not the dog's fault that the crate is ugly. You need to understand your personal needs and the willingness to commit your time to guide your dog, a dog is not a vase to decorate your home, a dog is a living thing, a pet, a friend.

List of housebreaking methods

There are many housebreaking tutorials and methods out there that you can easily find online and in books, these are usually methods that work "generally", meaning it works average dogs, but sometimes it just don't work on others. Because all dogs are different, the authors are different, their setups are different, owners are different and even everyone's definition of housebreaking are also different, which is why it can be confusing for you to absorb especially if you have no prior experience to training a dog.

We will list down a list of housebreaking methods below, the pros and cons of each individual method, it will then be up to you to find out your dog's character and decide with your family on the type of housebreaking method you think is best for you and your dog. If things are not working as planned then it will be best to consult a professional before things become out of hand, find a trainer that has dealt with different housebreaking cases to help provide the best solution to you. Try to avoid those that advocate abusive tools like shock collars (aka ecollar), choke chains, slip leash etc.


In the past, there were no such thing as a pee tray or pee pads, people had not even thought of using newspaper to housebreak a dog yet. And since in those times most lived in houses instead of flats, most owners knew nothing much about housebreaking except to let their dogs pee and poop on grasses. Training a dog to pee and poop on grasses is the easiest and most hassle free method compared to others, dogs are naturally attached to grasses, they love the texture and smell of it and will not hesitate to pee, mark and poop on grasses even without any training. Why we categorize this as a type of housebreaking method is because once you get your dog used to doing business on grasses, it will most likely be doing this for the rest of it's life, housebreaking commands can also be incorporated if you like. With walking your dog on grasses, you will risk bringing unwanted pest and germs like fleas, ticks and poops of other dogs, so yearly vaccination and frontline plus (or similar) is a must. Dogs that are used to doing business on grasses will also have a lot of trouble doing it elsewhere, if you want to use this method, be sure that you are very free to bring your dog out at least 3 times a day.

The Pros It's free Easy to train even for beginners Won't dirty your home Save your time on housebreaking training The Cons ♥ Risk ticks & fleas (frontline plus or similar is a must) ♥ Risk picking up bacteria from foreign grasses/stepping on other animal's poop ♥ Needs to be consistent in bringing dog out for walks at least 3 times daily for life


A very traditional method especially in Asia, whereby housebreaking a dog on newspapers have proven to be very effective and cheap. The smell of newspapers (recycled papers) are so strong and unique that once you get your dog to doing it on the newspaper, you can probably bring a piece of newspaper wherever you go and your dog will be able to do business whenever it needs to. Training a dog to do pee and poop on newspapers is much easier than training it to do on pee trays, because in nature dogs learn to pee/poop on the same area by tracking with their nose, they would be trying look for a spot where they had pee/poop previously and will then attempt to do it on the same spot again. By training a dog to do business on newspapers, you are simply telling it to track for newspapers instead of their pee/poop, and knowing that newspapers are very common objects, placing them around the place can accelerate the training process much faster that pee trays. Also, pee trays have literally no smell/odor at first and it can be quite hard for your dog to locate compared to newspapers.

However, training housebreaking commands is no easy task for newspapers, as the dog is too dependable on the smell of newspapers instead of listening to commands, it would require much more time compared to other methods. One also need to understand that newspapers are made from recycled papers, they are very thin and can get torn easily. Newspapers together with inks can be very toxic to dogs especially in the past, though these days the inks are made of soybean oil. When newspapers are torn, the small particles that is not noticeable to human eyes may get into their lungs when breathed in, this can cause breathing problem especially for dogs and breeds with breathing issues. The ink, when mixed with liquid like pee and saliva, will dissolve and stain onto dog's feet, causing them to be dirty.

The Pros

Cheap Relatively easy to train  Newspapers are convenient to bring along The Cons

♥ Unhygienic - low quality, dirty ♥ Dangerous when inks were swallowed (in the past) ♥ Makes a mess - doesn't absorb pee well, gets torn off easily, dog's feet gets dirty when stepped on ♥ Housebreaking commands are harder to train ♥ Doesn't look presentable

Pee tray

There are more and more owners switching to pee trays when housebreaking their dogs and there are a lot of good reasons. Pee trays are usually made of durable plastic that should be easy to clean compared to other housebreaking tools out there, most pee trays come in two parts, one which is the base for you to insert pee pads and the other is the top cover, which is usually made of plastic and has holes for urine to drip through. Pee trays are very useful and hygienic even if you don't wash them every day, though changing of pee pads are a must. Because the pee tray is designed in such a way that urine goes through the top cover and gets absorbed by the pee pads, your dog will probably have cleaner feet even after urinating. Pee trays can be harder to housebreak a dog in the beginning, that's because the plastic smell is neutral and some dogs can't get used to stepping on it initially. Even so, once you manage to fully housebreak your dog on a pee tray, teaching housebreaking commands will be a piece of cake. You can bring your dog to any places with a pee tray and it will probably just do it there, and from time to come, just say the housebreaking command and your dog will do it on any spot you like even without the pee tray present. Good pee trays does not come cheap, be prepared to fork out about $40 for a Yogi Pee Tray. Pee pads are also needed to absorb pee properly, which cost about 10 to 20 cents per piece. If you have decided to train your dog on a pee tray, be prepared to encounter a lot of mistakes initially, it will be good to have someone around to monitor your dog for at least 2 weeks.

The Pros Hygienic Easy to clean Housebreaking commands are easy to teach Looks presentable The Cons ♥ Hard to train ♥ Costly - pee tray, pee pads

Pee pad

Training a dog to do business on pee pads are more for people who don't want to get a pee tray due to certain reasons like saving space and money. Using pee pads are also hygienic as it won't wet your dog's feet when it is stepped on, and you have the option to combine as many pee pads as you like. Training a dog to do business on pee pads more or less depends on the strength of the dog's housebreaking command. Unless owners rarely change the pee pad so that the dog can track the scent, it very, very hard to fully housebreak a dog on it. Some people may think that their dog is already housebroken on pee pads when the fact is that they actually lie pee pads all over the place and the dog has no choice but to do it on one of them.

The Pros

Hygienic Relatively cheap Lightweight - Can be brought anywhere

The Cons

♥ Hard to train ♥ Dependable on housebreaking commands


Housebreaking a dog using a crate is easy, hygienic and good for owners who are busy most of the time. Instead of using the crate as a room, it is usually used as a large 'pee tray' instead, therefore it is very easy for dogs to locate it. Commands are easy to teach once the dog knows how to use the crate for business. Having to get a dog used to go inside the crate will need some practice, owners will need to introduce the crate well and be prepared to let their dog stay inside the crate for the first few days, just like how you want a dog to love its crate/play pen. Some dogs may have been traumatized before and may have anxiety when left in the crate, if you have trouble getting your dog to stay in it's crate then it would be advisable to consult a trainer (click here for more info). The smallest crate is about 2x1 feet, these crates are usually made of metal grills so that pee can pass through. Whenever a poop gets stuck in-between the grills, it will hard to pick and clean as most grills are built in together with the crate, thus having to bring the whole crate for washing is a fuss. The grills are also very dangerous especially for small dogs as their feet can get stuck in there with high chance of causing fractures. It cost about $60 for cheap one crates but we recommend investing in better quality ones that are much more durable.

The Pros

Relatively easy to train Hygienic Housebreaking commands are easy to teach

The Cons

♥ Costly ♥ Needs monitoring initially ♥ Those with metal grills can be dangerous ♥ Hard to clean


Training a dog to go to the toilet can be very helpful for owners, they can save a lot of money from buying things like pee trays, pee pads and crates. This is good for owners who like to let their dogs free roam around the house 24/7, cleaning is also easy as toilets have drains and durable flooring. The initial training can be challenging especially if the toilet is further away from the dog's sleeping area. When dogs are allowed to free roam, they tend to try peeing and pooping on areas that is not desired, this can be eliminated if the owners are able to monitor their dog closely at least for the first few weeks. When dogs are housebroken in the toilet they can also wet their feet, either by water or by their own pee. Do be careful of things like tub, toilet bowls and detergents that can hurt your dog, you might want to consider covering and blocking these objects for safety.

The Pros

Free Easy to clean

The Cons

♥ Can be dangerous ♥ Unhygienic for your dog ♥ Initial training can be challenging

We have come to an end to this guide, have you got an idea how you want to housebreak your dog? Sometimes you might try a method and it seems to be failing, think through again, how long have you tried, are you consistent enough? If you have tried for months and things still doesn't go well then we will recommend you to find help as there are some things that you have already done wrong without knowing. I always hear owners saying that certain methods doesn't work but when we go over and demonstrate, they then understood that what they were doing before was actually wrong. This is the importance of 1 to 1 training, most of the times what you read and watch on videos can actually differ from what you are doing, that's because no one is there to explain to you what you have done wrong and how to improve on it.

Always remember the 6 criteria to training a dog well: Time Patience Discipline Consistency Exercise Love Feel free to contact us at if you still have any questions!

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