How to Housebreak a Healthy Hound

Dear Alex,

I'm pushing the daylights of becoming closer to 90, in reasonable good shape, and a former dog owner. I live in a second floor apartment. I'm thinking about rescuing a dog, as one we lost three years ago was such a sweetheart and got me to go out and take the pooch for walks. What's the best way to housebreak a dog of any age?



Hello Eric,

Thanks for writing in, and thank you for considering the adoption of a new family member!

When it comes to potty training, keep in mind that dogs need one option when it comes to doing their business. Choose ONE area for your new dog to go to the restroom. Your place can be outside, on potty pads, etc., but only choose ONE. I happen to be a huge fan of crate training. Contrary to popular belief, the crate is not “doggie jail.” It can actually provide a much needed den space for dogs, and give them comfort when they’re being left alone during the day. Crate training is a very successful way to potty train, and if done correctly, can help get your puppy be potty trained in about one to two weeks.

Here’s how to properly crate train:

  1. Size matters. When it comes to finding a crate to use for potty training, make sure your crate is the correct size for your new dog. The crate should be just big enough for her to go in, turn around herself, and lay down. If it’s any bigger, she will be able to have an accident on one side, and lay down on the other. The idea behind the crate is that if she has an accident, she’ll be forced to lay in it. She won’t want to do that, so she’ll hold it.
  2. Put her in the crate any time you are not home, and at night when you’re asleep. It’s also a good idea to put her in the crate when you’re home, and can’t watch her. Putting her in the crate will eliminate the opportunity for her to have an accident.
  3. Take her outside/to the potty pad to use the restroom right before you leave for the day, and right before you go to sleep at night. If you’re going to be gone more than seven to eight hours, have a family member or friend stop by your house to let her out to go potty.
  4. The moment you get home or get up in the morning, take her out of the crate, and take her outside/to the potty pad to go to the bathroom. Give her lots of praise when she goes, and put a command to it, like “go potty.” This will teach her to go on command.
  5. These steps should be repeated every day, and remember to STAY CONSISTENT! If you’re consistent, she should be potty trained in about a week or two.

Remember, dogs need to be given only one restroom option. Whether it be outside, or the potty pad, choose one, and stay consistent. Good luck! WOOF!


Alexandra (Alex) Macias has been a certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist since 2008, and is the owner of Alex Macias Dog training, a Long Beach-based dog training company. To ask Alexandra questions for a future article, leave them in the comments below, or email her