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Housebreaking: When to Give Your Pup More Freedom in the House

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Owners are often eager for housebreaking to be over so their pup "can have more freedom" in the house. But why? What do they imagine their loose pup is going to be doing in the house that's so wonderful?

When I visit friends whose pups are loose in the house, I very seldom see a calm, well-behaved dog.

young dog having a great time destroying stuff

Instead I see pups with excited, aroused mental states, jumping from sofa to chair, peering out the window for things to bark at, demanding to be let outside or inside, begging for food, shoving their head into someone's lap for petting, or scouting through different rooms looking for things to chew on.

So even if your pup is completely housebroken by 6 months old, he should not be loose in the house.

If you grant freedom too soon, a sudden string of accidents or unwanted behavior can set back his future behavior in a hurry.

But if your pup is at least 10 months old AND has not had an accident indoors for at least a month.... then...

...when he has just recently peed outside and isn't due to poop

...and when you're doing something quiet in one place, such as reading a book, watching TV, or working on your computer

...let him loose in the room with you.

But take precautions!

  • Close the door so he can't wander elsewhere.
  • woman working on computerWhile you're working, look up frequently to see how he's doing. If he suddenly starts sniffing the floor or begins walking in circles, take him out to his potty area right away. You need to learn your particular pup's signs that he needs to go out.
  • After an hour, take him outside. If he at least pees, praise him lavishly and give him another period of freedom in the same room. However, if he doesn't go, put him in his crate or pen for awhile, then try him outside again. Once he has successfully eliminated outside, give him another period of freedom in the room with you.

As you can see, you don't throw your house open to him all at once. One room at a time. One hour at a time. And if he has an accident when you're giving him more freedom, he's not ready! Go back to crating/penning for awhile.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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