How to Housebreak a Puppy If You Work All Day

Accident again? He's probably trying his best!
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How do you teach your dog to do something when you're not there to give directions? Tricky question. The good news? There's hope. The bad news? It will take some weeks and some practice before your puppy learns the rules of going potty. Think of it as potty training a child -- it's not going to happen the first few times you try it. And yes, accidents will happen.

Step 1

Go hard on the training while you're home. In the morning and right before bedtime, take doggie outside for a potty break. If he needs to go again -- especially on days while you're off work and at home -- teach him how to use pee pads. Ideally, you want doggie to always go outside, but if you can't take him out, you also can't expect him to magically guess what the pee pads are. You need to show him the next time he starts circling around for a place to pee.

Step 2

Confine Fido to a small space before you go out. This could be a crate, the kitchen -- unless you have a huge kitchen -- or the bathroom. If the space is small enough, he will "hold it," since dogs don't want to go to the toilet near the area where they sleep or eat. This can work for a few hours, but you cannot expect it to work if you're gone for half the day. Puppies have small bladders and they won't be able to wait forever.

Step 3

Ask somebody to come around at least once -- twice is better -- during the day to take your pup outside. The younger your dog is, the more times he has to pee in a day. A young pup can't hold it for 9 or 10 hours while you're at work, so you'll either end up with "accidents" or you'll have to get a dog walker or a very committed friend who doesn't mind being on potty duty.


  • Don't punish or scream at the dog once you get home and find a little accident -- or three. Yelling will only cause confusion and create an anxious dog. Take a deep breath and be patient.