Housebreaking (American English) or house-training (British English) is the process of training a domesticated animal that lives with its human owners in a house or other residence to excrete (urinate and defecate) outdoors, or in a designated indoor area (such as an absorbent pad or a litter box), rather than randomly inside the house following its instinctive behaviour.

A dog trained to urinate outdoors rather than in its human owners' house

Around 840 million cats and dogs alone are owned as pets around the globe[1] along with seventy percent of households in the United States owning a pet[2] meaning that housebreaking is something that the majority of people around the globe experience. The process of housebreaking or house-training requires patience and consistence from the human. Accidents are a part of the process and reacting negatively could discourage the animal, and slow down the training as a whole.


The first step in housebreaking or house-training a new puppy is creating a routine or schedule. Young puppies aren't able to control their bladder as well as older dogs and should be taken out frequently. A general rule of thumb to follow is that puppies can hold their bladder one hour for every month; if a puppy is two months they can hold their urine for around two hours.[3] When taking the puppy outside their owner should take them to a designated spot every time. Using a word as they excrete, such as "outside" or "bathroom," can be used as a way to remind the puppy what to do in the future once they are trained. Rewarding the puppy after they are done excreting helps the puppy recognize outdoors is the proper place to urinate and defecate. It is also important to note that older animals, dogs in particular, can require just as much training and attention as puppies whenever they are introduced to a new home.[4]

Crate training should be used when the human isn't able to take the dog out within its scheduled time. The crate should be big enough for the puppy to be comfortable, but small enough for them to not want to excrete inside of the crate.

One important part of housebreaking a pet, and dogs in particular, is to make sure that you have made plans for when you are away.[5] Many pet owners focus a lot of their energies into housebreaking their pet just to have their hard work undone while being away from their pet. Making sure your pet has another person to look put for them or a specific place in the home designated for using the bathroom can help reduce the chances of housebreaking being undone.


The process of housebreaking or house-training a kitten is vastly different from doing so for a puppy. Rather than a designated area outside, the designated area is indoors within a litter box. A cat's instinct is to excrete within a substrate, and then scratch and dig to hide the excretion; litter boxes support this natural behavior.[6] There are a variety of options for what substrate (or litter) to put within a litter box but most veterinarians agree a scent-free clumping clay substrate is what cats prefer.[6] It is important to pick the right litter box whether it be smaller, bigger, have high walls, or if there should be a lid. In addition to what kind of litter box, location of the litter box matters. The litter box should be located in a quiet area so the kitten feels comfortable enough to use it whenever it pleases.

A cat prefers its litter box to be in a quiet, undisturbed area of the home

In the beginning, the kitten should be placed in the box, to learn where it is and what the substrate feels like. The kitten should be placed in the box again after it has eaten as that is when the urge to excrete is the strongest.[6] Most kittens take to litter boxes immediately if the substrate is to their liking. All cats have different preferences and some may prefer separate litter boxes for urine and feces.

It is also important to note that while many people chose to train their cat to use a litter box you may find it more fitting to housebreaking your cat like a dog. [7]While this is entirely feasible the process requires more attentive work. When teaching a cat to use the bathroom outdoors, unlike a litter box, it’s imperative to make sure your cat is the proper age.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Dog and cat pet population worldwide 2018". Statista. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  2. ^ "Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics". American Pet Products Association. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  3. ^ "How to housetrain your dog or puppy". The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  4. ^ PAWS. "Re-Housetraining Your Adult Dog". PAWS. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  5. ^ "How to housetrain your dog or puppy". The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  6. ^ a b c says, Lorraine chaussee. "Litter Box Training Your New Kitten | Feline Behavioral Health". TexVetPets. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  7. ^ "7 Steps to Housebreak a Cat". 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  8. ^ "7 Steps to Housebreak a Cat". 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2020-11-11.