How To House Train Your Terrier Puppy

House training isn’t difficult, but it does take time and patience. You need to be vigilant and consistent in teaching your puppy not to eliminate in the house. Terriers need to be taught that it’s not OK for them to go inside the house – they don’t know this automatically, and left to their own devices they’ll go whenever and wherever nature calls.

Even a pup that’s already been housetrained before you get him may be disoriented enough by his new surroundings that he may have a few ‘accidents’ before he remembers the rules. The most important thing to remember during this house training process is that reproach or punishment for indoor accidents will only teach your pup not to eliminate around you at all (even when outdoors) – but it won’t stop him from doing it indoors when you’re not around. Your young puppy won’t understand why you’re upset with him, and any show of anger or impatience on your part will only confuse him, frighten him and set the whole house training process back drastically.

Unless you can monitor your Terrier 24/7, expect a few accidents along the way; the entire house training process will likely last until the pup is at least 6 months old. Puppies are eating-sleeping-pooping machines – in addition, they haven’t yet developed bowel and bladder control, making them unable to ‘hold it’ the way adult terriers can.

You’ll need to paper train your youngster for the times when you’re not home, and outdoor train him for the times when you are. But first things first: give your Terrier his own small, fully newspapered room – ideally a tiled bathroom or laundry room, then take control of his feeding schedule, and choose a designated spot outdoors where you’ll want him to eliminate.

Set up a feeding schedule

You’ll never be able to predict your puppy’s ‘output’ times if you’re not controlling the input times. (Terriers usually need to go after meals, after vigorous play/exercise and after sleeping.) Food should be offered only at set mealtimes each day and should not be left available all day or night. If your puppy hasn’t eaten his food within 20 minutes, pick up the dish and don’t put more food down until the next scheduled eating time. Of course, you’ll need to allow him access to water at all times, but remember that this means you can never be entirely sure when he might need to pee.

Take your Terrier pup outside on a leash as soon as you get up every morning. Take him to the same elimination spot every time and wait there with him until he goes. Once he’s finished, praise him lavishly for being the good and clever puppy that he is, and then take him back inside for breakfast. After feeding, take a few minutes to play with your pup and then take him back outside on his leash, to his same designated elimination area as before.

When you’re home to supervise

After you’ve taken him outside for his after-breakfast elimination, the pup should remain on his leash, either tied to you directly or near you in the same room, so that you can watch for signs that he needs to go again. Every half hour, bring your pup to his papered indoor toilet area in his little room. Stay here with him if it seems that he needs to go. If you’re busy and you can’t actively supervise him at any time, confine him in this room. Have his favorite chewy toys and his bed in the room with him.

Every 2 hours, give your pup the chance to go outside again. Once outside, make sure not to let him off his leash and never combine these trips with walkies or games, or else he’ll beg you for constant trips outdoors. During his initial training phase, just bring him directly to his spot, wait there till he’s finished his business and take him back inside the house. Never miss an opportunity to praise him whenever he eliminates at the right time and place – the more you show him how happy you are that he’s done it correctly, the sooner he’ll be able to master the concept of outdoor-only elimination in his designated spot and become fully house trained. After you come back inside, don’t let your puppy wander freely inside the house – keep him near you on that leash.

At night, keep your young pup confined in his little room. In the morning, put him on the leash but you may want to carry him outside (as opposed to letting him walk) so he won’t accidentally pee as he walks outside.

When you’re away during the day

Until your Terrier puppy is definitely house trained (which means he never goes inside the house), the puppy should never have the run of the house. When you’re not home with him, confine him to his little room with its newspaper-covered floors.

As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred spot in the room for doing his business. When this place is well established and the rest of the papers remain clean all day, gradually reduce the area of the floor that is papered until you’re only leaving a few sheets down in that one area only. If he ever misses the paper, then you’ve reduced the area too soon; add those other papers back in, and be patient with him. He’ll figure it out in his own good time. Put fresh papers down daily, of course, and as soon as you get home each day, you should immediately leash your terrier and take him outside to eliminate.


Buy a modern odor-neutralizing product made especially for these purposes, and use it when cleaning up your pup’s messes inside the house. These enzymatic cleaning products are widely available at pet stores or online.

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