Housebreaking Your Labrador Puppy

Your new Lab puppy looks to you for structure and guidance.
labrador image by JEAN-MARC MEDINA from

Upon bringing your new Labrador puppy into your home, your first order of business is to housebreak him. It is a task easily accomplished with a little knowledge, a lot of patience and most of all, consistency. Lab puppies are creatures of habit, and as his new pack leader, it is up to you to establish good habits and avoid the formation of bad ones. Lab puppies are very trainable, as they aim to please their master. So, setting up a regular elimination schedule, and sprinkling in tons of praise, will put you well on the road to a house-trained puppy.

Step 1

Place your Labrador puppy in the crate for a couple hours at a time. This will help him become accustomed to spending time in the crate. Cygnet Labrador Retrievers suggests placing a towel inside the crate instead of heavier bedding to speed the clean-up of any initial accidents. Upon letting him out, give him love and praise for being brave.

Step 2

Set up your Labrador puppy's elimination schedule. He will likely feel the urge to go first thing in the morning, after every meal and drink, and every two hours or so in between. Plan to take him to the designated outdoor area, or place him on puppy pads or newspapers at these times.

Step 3

Insist that your Labrador puppy remain in the designated area until he's done his business. As soon as you see signs he is about to relieve himself, use a decided-upon command, like "Go potty," "Go make" or "Hurry up," and continue saying the command calmly and quietly until he begins to go. Hold still and quiet until he's finished.

Step 4

Praise your Labrador puppy robustly when he has completed his business, putting the word "Good" in front of your chosen command. Have a short and excited play session once you have removed him from the potty area.

Step 5

Scold your puppy, or keep silent altogether, after any indoor accidents. According to Ashtone Labradors, ignoring the Labrador puppy and cleaning up the accident has more effect than scolding, as the puppy is hoping for praise and excitement when he's done relieving himself. If you must scold, a gentle shake of his scruff and a harsh tone are sufficient to get your point across.

Step 6

Get up once in the middle of the night for a potty break, at least for the first couple of weeks. A puppy never wants to mess his sleeping quarters, but when he must go, he must go. Be sensitive to this and work with him to form good habits.


  • Never scold or punish a puppy for an old mess. Unless caught in the act, he won't understand why he is being punished, and it can hurt the bond of trust between you.

  • Do not rub your puppy's nose in the mess. He does not understand this method, and it can also destroy his trust in you.


  • Carrying your puppy to his area, be it indoors or out, is recommended to avoid "on the way" accidents. This is especially true after extended periods of crating, such as overnight.

Items You Will Need

  • Large crate
  • Towel
  • Puppy pads or newspapers
  • Designated elimination area outdoors