How do I Paper Train a Dog?

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When you get a young puppy, the best method for promoting good bathroom habits is to paper train the dog. Most puppies will not be considered reliable in this area until they are about six months old. They are rather like young children, and should never be blamed or scolded for the inevitable puppy mistakes that will occur all over your house.

To reduce accidents, you can reasonably count on the puppy needing to “go” about every half hour to 45 minutes. They will especially need to go after playing, eating, and sleeping. Therefore, the first step to train your puppy is to establish an area in the home, perhaps without carpeting, where the puppy can go without causing a mess.

Once you have established a puppy safe, paper training area, perhaps a laundry room, be sure access to the room is blocked off. This can easily be accomplished with a baby gate, which is preferable to shutting the door, because you can still see the puppy. Line the entire area with several layers of thick paper. Newspaper is best, but remember not to recycle soiled newspaper.


To make the process easier, some puppy toys, food and water, and a puppy bed should be kept in the papered area. When at home with the dog, if you are playing with it in other areas of the house, be sure to return it to the training area about every half hour. Don’t punish mistakes, but instead lavishly reward the puppy with attention whenever it is able to urinate or have a bowel movement on the paper.

To avoid accidents when you cannot keep close watch, always put the puppy in the area before bedtime or if you have to leave the home. Don’t be surprised in the early stages if the puppy chews, rips or moves the paper. It is in the nature of puppies to explore. You might consider co-training the puppy, by only allowing chewing in the paper training room, as this will help reduce the urge of the mature dog to destroy your furniture.

With close attention, the puppy will soon begin to associate elimination on the paper with positive reward. When the puppy consistently is able to go on the paper, and generally chooses a specific location for its bathroom activities, it is time to move forward with the paper train process. Choose the area farthest from the puppy’s favorite elimination spot and remove about 1 inch (2.54 cm) of the paper. The goal is about 1 inch a week.

If the puppy uses the unpapered area, you have worked the process too quickly and should repaper. When the puppy understands and does not eliminate in the unpapered area, you can continue reducing the paper bit by bit as the weeks continue. Rewards should be given each time the puppy is successful to continue to associate paper with elimination.

As the puppy matures, stagger positive reinforcement. The puppy needs to learn elimination should not only occur when one expects a result. If the puppy begins to err, add more praise, but as it consistently eliminates on the remaining paper, praise can be reduced.

Once the paper is gone, you may want to paper a small section of yard to reinforce that outside is really the best place for elimination. You may wish to introduce paper earlier on walks so the puppy does not always consider your house as the best bathroom site. Again, the dog should be well praised during the outside training process.

By about six months, your puppy will have completed the paper training and be fairly reliable and less prone to accidents. The more active your role in the process, the quicker your puppy will learn, and the less your home will suffer. One proviso, however, is to not leave newspapers on the floor after you have completed the training. These are too much of an invitation to a paper trained dog.


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Post 9

@cafe41 – I think letting the dog outside often to eliminate is fine, but what about those times when you will be gone for hours at a time? I had to paper train my puppy indoors, because he had to be in there for eight hours while I was at work.

Also, I couldn't get up every forty-five minutes at night to let him out. That's why it's good to do at least some paper training. If you want him to go outside in addition to going on the paper when indoors, you could do a combination of both.

Post 8

@DylanB - My friend taught me how to paper train puppies when I had two that were a brother and sister. However, the pee and poo always leaked through the paper, even though I used several layers.

I switched to puppy pads, and I laid out one pad for each puppy. They did have a few mishaps, but for the most part, they went on the pads. Eventually, they would even pee and poop on the same pad.

The pads are super absorbent, so you don't get a puddle of pee beneath like you would with newspaper. They are also easier to pick up than soiled newspaper, which can fall apart in your hands before you reach the trash can.

I would say that after about five months, they were fully trained. I couldn't understand why they would occasionally just go off the pad for no reason, but that behavior declined with age.

Post 7

I have heard good things about those puppy pads that look like diapers. Instead of putting them on the dog, you lay them on the floor, and they learn to go on them. Which works better, newspaper or puppy pads?

Post 6

Some people just don't have enough patience when paper training a puppy. I have known several people who believe that rubbing the puppy's nose in his waste is the best way to discourage him from going off the paper.

This does nothing to help matters, and it probably just makes your puppy afraid of you. Also, spanking him does not work and just makes him see you as mean.

Post 5

my puppy is not quite three months old. She is paper trained but will not pee or poo outside in the yard even though she has been out in the yard frequently. I have placed a couple of soiled soaker pads out in the yard and she smells them but does not accordingly go pee! What to do next?

Post 4

my shih tzu always pees on the floor. he doesn't give any warning when he pees. i wanted to paper train but can i paper train him when he is still three months old?

Post 3

My little chihuahua just can't seem to get the poo-poo on the paper. Sometimes she gets it but most of the time she doesn't. What can I do to help her figure it out? Help! --Jen1

Post 2

Cafe41- You asked a good question. I know a lot of people prefer to train their puppies that way, but remember the writer suggested that the puppy will need to relieve himself about every forty-five minutes or so.

This does not allow the puppy to go as often as it needed to and might cause accidents in your home. I feel that paper training is the best method, for that reason.

Post 1

I just wanted to ask. Is house training a puppy as effective as paper training if you simply let the puppy outside in the backyard every hour or so? I ask this because a lot of people have success with this method.

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