Six Little-Known Reasons Behind Housebreaking

Having Trouble Housebreaking Your Puppy?
Learn Why!

Professional dog trainers charge from $150.00 to $700.00 to housetrain difficult puppies and older dogs. Before you hire a professional dog trainer, you need to read this!

This article explains the six little-known reasons behind housebreaking problems—and why the “one-size-fits-all” approach to housebreaking won't work for all dogs and puppies. If your puppy or adult dog refuses to housetrain, keep reading and find out why.

  1. Genetics.
  2. Some breeds and temperaments (i.e., genetics) of dogs are simply more difficult to housebreak. An energetic puppy is so happy and excited to play outside that he forgets to do his business. But when he comes back inside and relaxes … you guessed it: He’s got to go right now! Others can be so relaxed outside they just lay down and wait to come back in the house, and when they see you and get excited … you guessed it: Mother Nature calls.

  3. Environment.
  4. Home: The bigger the house, the more difficult to housebreak. To a puppy a large home is an endless maze of potty places. Housebreaking takes a lot of perseverance in this situation, and special training may be required to teach your puppy where he can—and can’t—use the bathroom.

    Food: One of the biggest culprits of housebreaking problems lies in the type of dog food you use, as well as how much, and how often you feed your pet. If your puppy’s food contains a lot of fiber grains (wheat, barley, or corn), your puppy is going to have a lot of stool. Vegetables in the diet have the same effect, being high in fiber. The dog will need to poop at least once for every trip to the food bowl. For puppies fed two or more times a day, that means two or more bathroom visits a day!

    Supplements/medications: Medications, supplements, extra oils, vitamins, etc. can really upset a puppy’s or dog’s digestive system. If your Veterinarian has suggested extra oils or vitamins for your pet, expect the little tot or adult dog to have the urgent need to go N-O-W. If your dog or puppy gets diarrhea from these extra products, this will be a really “crappy” experience for both you and your pet.

    Water: Most people don’t understand the role that water plays in the housebreaking of a puppy. It is critically important that the puppy or adult dog have an adequate amount of water. But, while most parents monitor their children’s intake of water at bedtime, they may not consider the same for their pet. Allowing the puppy to drink a lot of water at bedtime will have the same result as too much water given to a toddler – sometimes they just can’t hold it all night.

  5. Dog's Size/Maturity Level.
  6. The size of the dog can lead to housebreaking problems. Smaller breeds usually mature more quickly than larger breeds. Thus, everything being equal, the smaller the breed, the easier and quicker to housebreak. Generally speaking, the larger and slower-maturing the puppy, the longer it takes to housebreak, especially if two or more feedings a day are needed for his growing body. Here again, the type of dog food you feed him can be critical and can mean the difference between an easy job of housebreaking, or a frustrating, intolerable job, with housebreaking problems that never end.

    However, smaller dogs are usually bred and raised indoors, often in small, closed-off areas. In this scenario, the puppy’s first experiences are pooping and peeing in the house. Now all of a sudden the puppy is asked to go outside – causing problems with housebreaking. Communicating with your puppy in his own language is key to solving this kind of housebreaking problem.

  7. Lack of Pack Leadership.
  8. As a professional dog trainer, this is the most typical problem I see – the puppy or dog knows to go outside, he simply refuses!

    Dogs are pack animals. Just as a young child clings to its mother or dad for comfort and security, the puppy is the same way. Without some training, instead of seeing the human family members as the “parents,” the puppy sees them as litter mates that pee and poop wherever they want – why not? It’s what they have always done and no one got mad. If the puppy looks at their human companions with love and respect as pack leaders (i.e., their “parents”), then it’s “if you want me to go outside, of course! Just tell me when and where (just don’t leave me out there too long).”

    Bold, shy, or skittish puppies will ask to be included in the family in their own unique ways. Gentle guidance from the leader of the family can make a difficult dog to housebreak really easy to housebreak.

  9. Using Force to Housetrain.
  10. As a general rule, correcting a dog or puppy by hitting is always a BAD idea. Similarly, rubbing their nose in it does little or nothing to teach the puppy or adult dog not to go potty in the house.

    In reality, the only force that works is the force of habit – keeping the right schedule and right dog food for your area and climate.

    So, if you’re using “no force,” how do you tell your puppy he did wrong? This is the question that separates good dog trainers from the rest. If you know how dogs or puppies think and how they communicate, it’s easy. The concept is to communicate to the puppy in the way that he can understand – you must show him that he is a good puppy, but that pooping or peeing in the house is bad. Accomplish this and, if you’re the pack leader, all else is down hill.

  11. Some Problems “Appear” As Housebreaking Problems – But Are Not!
  12. One of the ways dogs communicate is by marking their territory (peeing). This tells other dogs or puppies “this is my territory.” But in the puppy’s mind, they think it’s a good place to relieve themselves. “You did it, so I am going to do it.” And the cycle goes round and round. Strange enough, other pets like cats, mice or rats, can cause a puppy or dog to pee where they smell the other animals. To the puppy, it’s “where the toilet is located.” To the adult dog, it’s a warning to those other pets to “get out of this place.”


Every one of these situations presents a unique housebreaking problem where the “one-size-fits-all” approach just doesn’t work. Housebreaking is an individual success for each dog.

I find it strange that people will replace a carpet or get one cleaned at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars, yet not seek help to solve their difficult housebreaking problems. I liken this to “trying out” inferior products. I, myself, have purchased inferior products to save some money. I usually try them out, but then end up buying the better products anyway because the inferior products don’t do what I want them to do.

I personally believe that a pet is a “member” of the family. And a good start with housebreaking can lead to years of pleasant companionship. Housebreaking problems can be frustrating and may undermine your relationship with your pet. Knowing how to do it right is a really good place to start off your dog-human relationship on the right footing.

Good luck with your housebreaking situations. I hope this article helps you understand your pet better. If I can be of further assistance, my expertise and services are available any time.

To Your Housebreaking Success,

Brad Brimhall

Professional Dog Trainer
East Valley K9 Academy
Queen Creek, Arizona 85142
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