House Breaking and Nipping

As the proud owner of a new puppy you are probably dealing with two very common “issues” that are typical of young dogs. Cute little puppies can easily test your patience as you are trying to potty train them and teach them not to bite everything in sight, including you! Raising a puppy takes work, but with a little knowledge and some specific rules it can be much easier than anticipated.

Potty Training

When bringing a new puppy into the home it is important to know two facts. First, an eight week old dog cannot hold his bladder for a long period of time and second, he doesn’t know that he is expected to! When the puppy lived with mom, he was allowed to walk two feet from his bed and pee and then walk back and lay down. Now he is in a new environment where people get mad when he follows the rules that mom set up for him. You now need to teach the dog a new set of rules; don’t go to the bathroom in the house and go to the bathroom outside in a timely manner. Keep in mind that to a dog the house is just a place, carpet and rugs are meaningless to him. Your bedroom is not special and anywhere may seem like a great place to do his business.

You should take a young dog (8-10 weeks) out about every thirty minutes to relieve himself. Teach a word for going such as “go outside.” When he finishes going, immediately praise him, give him a treat, and repeat his command for going. Once your puppy learns the process you can begin to teach him to go every time you take him out. If the dog refuses to go after a reasonable amount of time because he wants to walk around and sniff simply take him inside and put him in a cage for fifteen minutes. This is not meant to be punishment. This prevents the dog from coming inside and peeing on the floor immediately. After fifteen minutes take him out of the crate and back outside, tell him “go outside”. Repeat the praising process if he goes. If he does not go, you can repeat the crating process.

The dog should now know that you like when he goes outside, so now you need to teach him that you don’t like when he goes inside. The key to this is NEVER letting him out of your sight until you trust him. Use gates, playpens, etc. or just follow him when he wanders off. If he goes and you don’t catch him, it is too late to correct and your potty training will be set back. Every “accident” should be a learning experience for you and the dog. If you see him going in the house, say NO in a firm voice, rush him outside, and praise him if he finishes out in the yard. This is a system that works very well, but a lack of consistency will undermine your efforts. The first month will not always be fun, following you dog constantly and always watching, but it is very attainable to have a fully potty trained dog by three or four months of age.


Nipping is a very common behavior exhibited by puppies. Young dogs nip each other constantly throughout the day as they play, and they learn certain rules. They learn not to nip too hard, or the other dogs get mad and not to nip “mom” when she isn’t in the mood. When you bring your puppy home it is time to teach him to never nip humans. A nip is one of two things, a rough type of play or an expression of frustration, neither of which should be used on humans. When the dog is eight weeks old you can gently correct the nips by pushing the dog away and saying “no”. Don’t yell the word, but it is equally important not to use baby talk as you tell him no. Keep in mind that every dog is different, and some puppies may start to nip harder if you push them away. If the puppy is in a rambunctious mood you can find a toy and start playing with him. It is important that the dog doesn’t learn to nip to encourage you to play with him, so always correct first and then find a toy to play with. If the puppy gets worse each time you correct him there are many different ways to address the issue. A leash and collar can be left on him so that he can be walked until he is calm.

In Conclusion

As you progress in training your dog and teaching him manners it is very important to keep in mind that dogs do not learn like humans. You cannot rationalize or negotiate with a dog! Make sure that you have clearly defined rules and that everyone in the house is 100% consistent! If you work hard during the first two months after you bring your puppy home you will enjoy the benefits of having a gentle and potty trained dog for years to come.