26 answers

Trying to House Break 6 Month Old Puppy with No Luck

We have a now 6 month old small dog, she's a Havanese, and she really is smart, but we're having a problem getting her to either go to the door to let us know when she needs to go outside. We even have little cow bells by the doors, and she's got to where she'll ring it, but sometimes she'll do her job outside and other times she won't. She does this because my husband lets her out without a leash and will give her a treat for coming in. So she knows if she goes outside, she'll get a treat whether or not she does a job outside. Also, we do have the little pads by the doors for her to go on - - - she sometimes gets about 4 inches away from that. We're lucky we don't have carpet or she'd already be outside!

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I'd say the number one thing is NOT to give her a treat if she doesn't do her duty outside. Then she can learn that she only gets a treat when the deed is done, rather than every time she goes outside. Good luck!

I think it is because she is already 6 months old, but it should still be possible. What I did with my maltese, who was only 2 months old was I basically stayed in the kitchen with her for an entire week as much as possible, where the blue potty pad was. When she would try to go elsewhere, I just picked her up and said NO, and put her on the potty pad. It was barely a week and she got it! She still goes on them without fail which is very convenient if you cannot always be home to take them out.

You are going to have to go ouitside with the dog and reward her for actually going potty rather than treats for going outside. Puppies are about as much work as an infant & take a lot of time. Good luck

More Answers

I also have a 6 month old Shi Tsu puppy and he has been hard to housebreak. I hear that small dogs are notoriously hard to potty train because of their small bladders. I've been obsessed the last few months with dog training and dog psychology and did a lot of rsearch, but the best help has been local puppy school. We have been going to Pet Smart for puppy kindergarden classes and Erika, out trainer says that puppys do better with their potty training when they are on a consistant feeding and potty schedule. He has been so much better since I started this. We take him out on a leash at set times during the day and also 15-20 minutes after eating. We also crate him during the day and come home at lunchtime. He has been able to hold it for 6 hours, so I know he is capable of potty trainng despite his small size bladder. I would also tell your husband to only give her a treat while she is outside doing her business...she is getting the wrong message. I was told to treat the dog after they've done a trick or a command correctly, not just because they come to you. I don't know what else to tell you, good luck with the bell ringing thing. That's a great idea. I might try that myself once my dog learns more basic commands. He's still having trouble with sit and stay, I think he might not get bell ringing yet. Dogs like routine, try the schedule if you can. I never had luck with potty pads, my dog seemed confused about if I wanted him to go outside on the grass or inside the house. I'm just trying to be consistant for now and only take him outside and praise him out there. If he has an accident in the house (which he still does on occasion) I don;t make a fuss about it unless I catch him in the act. This morning I wasn't paying close attention and he was about to poop on the rug...I caught him in the act , yelled "No" and immediatly took him outside, then praised him out there. He's still a work in progess. I'm hoping in a few months we'll be able to let him out of the crate while we're gone. Good luck. Have you seen "The Dog Whisperer" on the Nat. Geographic Channel? I LOVE that show!

1 mom found this helpful

We got a mutt when he was about 6 months old. We did crate training & it works! I still put him in his crate at night, but I may be able to stop that too. We fed him inside the crate with the door left open for a while, so he would get used to the crate. When he was comfortable in the crate we would shut the gate on it. After he ate (maybe 20 mins after??) we would let him out and take him outside. If he does his business, we'd let him back in the house - out of the crate. If he didn't, he'd go right back in the crate for a bit & we would try again. I can't remember the whole schedule at the beginning. At our new house (with new carpet!) we had to leave him in the crate at night & when we weren't home during the day. We slowly worked our way up to letting him stay in the house out of the crate when we were gone.

The crate training works because a dog will not do his business where he sleeps. If he is comfortable in the crate & sleeps there, he will keep it clean & learn to hold it until it's time to go outside. You can do a Google search for more info on crate training.

It is hard to potty train a puppy. I never had luck with the crate due to the dog whining would wake up my daughter. I did crate her when I was not home so that she would not potty on anything. I would keep her is a small area if you are not home because they will not potty where they sleep. If I was home, I would take her potty right after she woke up from her nap and I would take her again about an hour after she ate or drank. I did not have her on a leash but I would go out with her and praise her every time that she went and would give her a treat once in awhile but only if she did her business. I would remove the puppy pads as it is telling her that she can go inside the house and she is old enough to know better. Otherwise watch for the signs of her sniffing around to find a spot to potty. Every time that you take her out say the same thing whether it is "out" or "potty" but it needs to consistent with all family members and it needs to be the same word. I have found that it takes time for them to actually tell you when they have to go but if everyone is consistent and follows scheduled potty times the dog will be house broken in no time. If the dog goes in the house, scold her firmly and proceed to take her outside. Tell hubby no more treats for just coming back inside the house because that is giving the dog the wrong message.

Crate training that is how we trained our english mastiff.


she only went a total of i think 2 times in the two years we have had her and she hasn't done that in over a year

Good luck

You are going to have to go ouitside with the dog and reward her for actually going potty rather than treats for going outside. Puppies are about as much work as an infant & take a lot of time. Good luck

When we got our puppy she was 7 months old & had just been spayed. We completely pad trained her so as not ot have to let her out or worry with it. Firstly, right after her surgery might take a week or so. It might have her off. But if she is getting a treat whether she does her business outside or not then she will have you up and down several times a day when she gets bored or thinks about wanting a treat. Make sure if you want her to go outside that she is actually going before you give her a treat. Verbal praise works really well with my little doggie.

hi R.,

i know every puppy is different. what has worked for us(my husband is a veterinarian specialist) is not necessarily waiting for the puppy to 'tell' us he needs go out -but instead, we set the times. meaning, around 7a.m. we let 'em outside; again at 2ish; and again in the evening around 6. it takes some time to adjust, but it's always worked eventually. also, the dogs begin to expect it -they seem to have these cute internal clocks.
good luck with this - i know it can be frustrating! and congrats on the new addition - i'm sure your son is excited!

I have heard that after their spayed that it could affect thier bathroom patterns for a little while until they get bac on track. maybe that is it?

hi R.,
this is light at the end of the tunnel!!- i have a lab who will be a year old in october, there was times i wanted to give her away, glad i didn't. your puppy will get to the point where she will let you know she needs to go out, however do not give her a treat until she pottys, when she pottys tell her "good potty let's go get a treat. she will be off schedule for about a week or so after being spayed( that is normal, it happened to my puppy also) vet said that is normal after the operation.do not scold her if she does have accidents, this will cause her to sneak to potty inside because she will be afaid-
good luck!!!-- it does get better

R.. Don't lose heart. Puppies are extremely time consuming, but she will grow up and she will get this. Some dogs get it by 6 mo. and like children being potty trained, some it just takes longer. I have a friend with a Havanese and they still have accidents every once in a while. You might keep a pencil and paper by the back door and just keep track of the last time she's been out and whether she did her business. Feed her at about the same time everyday. Do not let her "free-feed" (have unlimited access to food) until your potty issues are solved. If you kennel her each and EVERY time you leave the house and let her out immediately when you come back, she'll know when it's time to go. We say, "do your business" and they get the idea. Hang in there. Oh, one more thing, if you have time, start taking her for a walk a few times a day -- not just letting her out. Most dogs love to leave their scent everywhere. It doesn't have to be a long walk (although she'll love that), 5-10 minutes should be plenty.

We crate-trained our puppy when he was 6 weeks old. We only did this for potty-training, he was not kept in crate after that. The puppy should sleep in crate and be in crate when you are not there. When you wake up/get home, carry her immediately outside. Then, give rewards and verbal praise when she does the "job".
We did this for 2 days and our 6 week old puppy was at the door when he had to go from then on. He never went in the house! The pads are bad, bad, bad...this teaches that it's OK to go in house. She needs to learn that outside is where she "goes".

Oh and when I say crate, I don't mean pet carrier (although it works for some). We had a folding fence-like crate that was open on top, like a playpen for puppy.

Remember: everytime you remove pup from crate, carry her directly outside.

Good Luck.

Dear R.,

I know just how you feel as I have 4 little puppies of my own. Training puppies is a lot of hard work as I'm sure you know. I would suggest limiting your dog's food intake throughout the day. When you put her food out only leave it down for about 20 or 30 min at a time, even if she doesn't eat it (trust me, she'll catch on and eat when she's hungry enough). After 20 or 30 min, put the food up and just leave water or a few ice cubes in the bowl in between feeding times. What this will do is limit her food intake which in turn limits her potty times. The ice cubes work great because they will still quinch her thirst but at the same time it will slow her drinking so her bladder doesn't get so full and cause her to have to wee in the house because she can't hold it. Take her out on a leash immediately after she eats and do not give her treats or praise unless she does her business outside. You are right about your husband giving her treats to come in...that's good, but it's confusing your dog. Also, it is vital to your dog that she gets atleast 2 walks a day. I know how difficult that can be, especially when you have a little one to take care of too...trust me though, if I can do it with 4 dogs, you can do it with one. 2 walks a day will relieve any anxiety she may have and give her time to do her business outside as well, other than the typical "letting her outside 1000 times a day". I also suggest getting Victoria Stillwell's training books..You may have seen her show on the animal planet.."it's me or the dog" She is absolutely wonderful and you can learn many things watching her show or reading her book. I have had my doggies for 4 years now, at they used to wee and mark everything in the house a long with constant the barking and other bad habits...after learning some techniques from Victoria's show, I worked with my bad heathens for about a week and was able to break them of almost all their bad habits. Still working on some things but so far I have had great luck with it...Good luck and I hope I was able to help in some way. P.S. It is imperative that your husband and you work together on the puppy's training otherwise it will all be in vain and pointless to even go there. That was the hardest thing for me..getting my husband to stick to the SAME training and not his own thing...that only confuses the dog in the long run.

T. B

If no one is with her that can take her out every hour for a while. Try crate training her. Usually dogs will not go in their bed. If you put her in a crate and when you take her out take her outside first, she will soon learn she can only stay out when she goes out to the bathroom. Then do not give her a treat until you know she has gone to the bathroom.

F. A.

The crate and and the timed going out are the best thing to do. It is alot of work at first, just like a new baby. I would go much more frequently at first. and you take them out, let them do their business and put them directly back in the house. . when they are in the house, never out of your site. then when you see them circle or sniff around. back out, with you to do their business and immediately back in. IF you let them play around, they will forget why they where there in the first place and pee when you get back in. we have had many dogs, always crate trained, always in house dogs, big and small. As with most things with our kids, this isn't a puppy issue, this is a mommy/daddy issue, lol.

Hi R.,
The only thing that I can tell you is that to make sure you take her out every two hours and make sure you or your husband or kids see her go. You just have to be very consistent. You also don't have to give her a treat every time. Give her a whole lot of attention when she goes. They like that just as much. If you give her a treat every time she will get fat. I give my dogs a treat in the morning and a treat at night. Mine are very small and one is on the puffy side. Also I have to tell you that I put in a doggie door and boy that is the best thing I ever did. It is not hard, I have put two in all by my self. I work at Home Depot and you can get one there. Let me know how it is going. I love dogs very much. I used to be a horse trainer and still train a little. But I use a lot of the same training methods only just on a smaller scale. So if you have any other questions just ask and I will try and help you out. Oh and I am NOT a big fan of crate training. I saw my Mom do it and she left the dog in there all the time. It was sad. I only use one when I take my dogs to the vet. I can't hold all three even tho they are small. And you should have already had her crate trained when she was a lot younger. It might be a lot harder now.


I worked for 15 years as a vet tech, and THE best nethod of house-training a dog is using an airline crate. The puppy sleeps in it at night, and stays in it when you're not home. Her food and water go in the crate with her.
Mama Nature gives them a natural instinct not to soil the place where they eat and sleep.
Puppy pads and newspaper teach them that there are places in the house where it's acceptable to relieve themselves, then you have to undo that training to get them to go outside.
Done properly, crate training is not cruel. In fact, once my dogs were house-trained, I left the crate, with a blanket in it, open in a corner of the living room. It became their refuge. When they were tired, they would go into the crate to nap. They would even take their toys in there to chew on them.
DON'T lock the dog in the crate as a form of punishment. That will only make her afraid of it. Dogs seek approval from the alpha members of the pack - in this case, human beings. When she misbehaves, tell her no, stop the misbehavior, then completely igonore her for about 15 minutes.
When she goes outside, praise her. She will know from the tone of your voice that you are pleased. Also, don't just let her out. Take her to a spot that you would like her to use. Take her to the same spot each time. If she has an accident in the house, when you clean it up, take the soiled paper towel and the puppy outside to the spot where you want her to go. Put it on the ground and let her smell it. She won't go right then, but it will plant the idea in her brain that "This is where I should do that." When she smells that she's gone there before, she will be more likely to go there again. (That's why it's also a good idea to use an odor neutralizer when you clean up messes in the house - you don't want them to go back to the same spot. It's also another reason that puppy pads and newspaper are a bad idea - the scent can be absorbed by the floor underneath and encourages her to revisit the spot once the pads and paper are taken away).
If she has an accident in the house, DON'T rub her nose in it. That does not teach her that it's wrong to relieve herself in the house. She will understand that you're angry at her, and she will understand that you're angry for some reason associated with the mess, but she does not have sufficient higher thinking skills to figure out that you're angry at her because she made a mess in the house, and that only going outside will make you happy. She may, in fact, start going other places in the house, and even going in harder to get to places in an attempt to hide it because she thinks that will please you.

she knows she gets the treat whether or not she does the job outside.

poor dog is confuse. why do u give her a treat if she does not due her job outside?

i am no dog trainer, suggest you go on line to ceasar milan he may help you or you could buy one of his c ds.

i am sure your son will really enjoy the puppy, if train right.

God Bless

I think it is because she is already 6 months old, but it should still be possible. What I did with my maltese, who was only 2 months old was I basically stayed in the kitchen with her for an entire week as much as possible, where the blue potty pad was. When she would try to go elsewhere, I just picked her up and said NO, and put her on the potty pad. It was barely a week and she got it! She still goes on them without fail which is very convenient if you cannot always be home to take them out.

Hi R.,

I am by no means a dog expert, but I have had a few! The easiest and quickest method I have found is crate training. Dogs really do like their "dens", so it works out well. At first, they may accidently go in the crate. After a few mistakes it shouldn't take long. I crate my dog at night or any other time that I can't be close by to watch his signals. I currently have a 7 month old Lab that is completely house trained. From the first night we got him we made him sleep in a crate. I still do not trust him to sleep outside the crate. I am thinking maybe at a year old we will try. I have never really had any success with the puppy pads or newspaper method. I read somewhere that dogs will consider the crate their "den" and they do not want to use the restroom where they sleep. Another tip, I do not keep food or water in the crate. If I was going to be gone an extended period of time I might consider leaving a little bit, but I would hate to make the puppy uncomfortable. At first I felt like I was taking my dog out every 5 minutes. Good luck with your house training! Don't give up...your dog is still a baby!

We had good luck with crate training. We bought a crate for our dog when he was a puppy. Dogs will not go in their bed. So take him out of the crate, and outside and wait for the dog to go, then reward it, saying "good dog" and a treat, and don't leave it just roaming your house until the dog learns.

I agree 100% with Shea R. I have had great success with just being very aware of the dogs needs, she'll get it in a few more weeks. Then try to move her to a schedule that works with your family so she knows when the morning, afternoon and night opportunities to do her thing are - my adult golden (female and 14 yrs old) won't eat or drink much until she knows we are home for the night, because then she knows we are there to let her out. I didn't have as much success with crate training. Also a stern tone of voice, and a 'time out' away from you are all the punishment needed for accidents of all sorts. Be clear on what was wrong by showing her, then send her to her bed or where she sleeps and I loudly grumble while I clean up so the dogs know I am mad. The excile works because they are pack animals and they want to be with you. Good luck its hard in the begining but once your friend is trained it is wonderful to have such love as dogs give.

Jen A

I'd say the number one thing is NOT to give her a treat if she doesn't do her duty outside. Then she can learn that she only gets a treat when the deed is done, rather than every time she goes outside. Good luck!

Potty training puppies has got to be the hardest thing in the world. First off, (Just my opinion) I would remove the inside pads, to me that is just teaching them it is o.k. to do their business inside. When you notice it sniffing around jump up very dramatically and say no, and grab it and run outside - this should scare the poop out of it - lol, seriosly though it works, get a spray bottle with ammonia in it, decide where you want your dog to use the bathroom - side yard, back yard etc. walk it to the area and spray a spot, but be mindful of the wind and don't let the ammonia spray fly in her eyes, remember she is lower to the ground than you are. The ammonia will attract her to that area and she will do her business. When she does - pet her, love her, baby talk her and jog back to the house and tell her how good she is.

the best way to train a puppy is to use a kennel big enough for her to fit in but not a lot of room left over then fix her a bed in there then keep her in it except when feeding her make her sleep in the kennel cause they normally will not go potty where they sleep she should bark when she needs to go but you might take her out about every three hours and when she goes praise her I have trained several dogs cause I use to be a breeder so I had lots of puppies to start potty training went real well she might fuss when you put her in the container just ignor her or cover her with a towel or sheet also use the word potty so she gets use to hearing it also it is important to make her sleep in the crate cause she will leasrn to hold it all night first good luck

Crate training is what we use. I think you said it best when you said dog is getting treats without doing any 'business'. We told our pup to go outside and get busy and to get the message across we had to see him get busy. Then lots of praise and good boy snack. And you cannot scold or shame a dog into house training (they don't have a sense of irony either, they're dogs). A firm NO and take them outside. No treat. Pretty basic and simple. Best of Luck!
Some people think the crate is cruel. I had a trainer explain it to me because I thought it was just mean! Canines are instinctually "DEN" animals and that is where they find efuge and comfort. Makes sense if you look at all canines in the wild. We call it 'the camper' since we travel with it as well. He loves his camper and the camper should not be used as a punishment, yes put them in there if they misbehave but without any yelling or scolding, we just give him a firm, get in your camper and no problem. He knows by the tone. Also don't make it a large camper for a small dog, too much room to misbehave (going to the bathroom in the back corner) and we use a small soft blanket because he likes to burrow!!

I am hoping to track down the author of this question. I got a Havanese puppy from someone in Searcy July 2009. I meant to register my dog, but lost his papers. Do you happen to know anyone in Searcy who may have had Havanese puppies then? The puppies were born March 19, 2009, if I remember correctly. ____@____.com

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.