How to paper train a puppy or dog

Housebreaking a new puppy or dog can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you live in a high-rise apartment building or don’t have ready access to an outdoor area. In these situations, paper training can be a useful way to house train your dog until he can hold himself long enough to make trips outside less frequent.

The paper training process

As with the traditional method of housebreaking a dog, you’ll want to keep a consistent schedule for feeding, exercise, and trips to the papers. This will ensure your puppy or dog has fewer opportunities for accidents, which can make paper training easier on both of you.

Prepare a confined area with newspaper or a dog pee pad

Pick an area to keep your dog while training, preferably one with linoleum or tile flooring. Place several layers of newspaper over part of the room. (You can put a plastic sheet underneath to keep the floor clean.) Be sure the papers are kept away from the area where your dog sleeps and eats.

Instead of newspaper, you can use a dog pee pad or the Wizdog, a device consisting of a tray with a grate that keeps your dog from tracking his mess through the house and makes for painless disposal of the newspapers and waste.

Take your dog to the papers to eliminate regularly

Say “papers” and take your dog to the newspapers or pad. Praise him as soon as he eliminates, but don’t be too enthusiastic since you’ll eventually want him to go to the bathroom outside. Do this when he wakes up in the morning, after he eats, naps, and plays, and before he goes to sleep at night. Make trips at the same time each day. If there’s a paper training accident, you’ll need to take him more often.

Change the papers and reduce the area covered

Exchange the papers for fresh ones, leaving a soiled paper underneath to remind your dog where to go. Also, clean under the papers with an odor neutralizer each day. You should reduce the size of the area covered at each paper change until you’re down to one open sheet.

What to do about accidents

Your dog is bound to have an accident or two before he’s paper trained. It’s important to remember not to punish him if he has already made the mistake. It’ll only confuse him and can erode his trust in you. Instead, consider it your fault and figure out how you can avoid problems in the future. Were you consistent with your feeding and watering schedule and with trips to the papers?

If you catch your dog in the act, clap your hands, stomp the floor, or make any commotion you can to stop the behavior. Give the command “Papers!”, then run over, scoop him up, and carry him to the right spot. After he has eliminated, give him lots of praise.
Keep in mind that a paper trained puppy or dog is not truly housebroken because you’ve essentially taught him to go to the bathroom in the house. But paper training can be practical as the first step in a housebreaking process that culminates with your dog eliminating outside.