Housetraining Your Beagle

In This Chapter
  • Defining housetraining
  • Equipping yourself for housetraining
  • Following five steps to housetraining success
  • Dealing with accidents
  • Knowing when you’ve succeeded
  • Dealing with potty problems

Who can help falling in love with a Beagle? Certainly not you. Your sweet Snoopy-dog’s winsome eyes, long floppy ears, and soft expression had you smitten the moment you first saw her. When you brought her home, you were sure that your love for her would only grow and that nothing, absolutely nothing, could get in the way of that love.

Then she took a whiz in the middle of your white Berber carpet, which is now graced with a big yellow stain. Understandably, you are not happy. After a few more similar doggy downloads, you may not be thinking of your Beagle with a great deal of love. Instead, you may be wondering whether your little hound is anything more than a four-legged pooping and peeing machine.
I’m here to assure you that she’s not. Your Beagle is still the same lovable creature that you believed her to be a couple of days or weeks ago. However, the fact that she’s adorable doesn’t give her the knowledge of where and when you want her to do her business. You must give her that knowledge through the process that’s known as housetraining.
Simply put, housetraining is the procedure you employ to teach your Beagle exactly where and when you want her to poop and pee. When your dog is truly housetrained, she will do just about anything to avoid making a bathroom boo-boo. Impossible, you say? Au contraire! This chapter shows you how to teach your Beagle impeccable bathroom manners.

Going Indoors or Out?

Before you begin to teach proper potty protocol to your Beagle, you need to make a very important decision: whether that potty will be located indoors or outdoors.
The ideal indoor potty operates the same way a kitty bathroom does: You place several layers of newspaper or an open box of specially prepared dog litter in a laundry room, seldom-used human bathroom, or anyplace else that’s away from the main living areas of your home. The ideal outdoor potty is located somewhere in your backyard or elsewhere in the outdoors, so your home’s interior isn’t exposed to dog waste after the dog is housetrained.
Each method has advantages and disadvantages. In the next sections, I outline the pro’s and con’s of each.

Indoor potty pro’s and con’s

Indoor training can be ideal for the owner who’s away from home all day. Instead of having to wait until her person comes home, the dog can take herself to her newspapers or litter box and relieve herself there. With either a litter box or papers, indoor training helps ensure that the returning owner isn’t greeted by a puddle or pile deposited in an inappropriate place in the house.
The mobility-impaired owner may find the indoor potty to be advantageous, too. By keeping the doggy bathroom indoors, the owner need not walk the dog to a potty outside. The dog can take care of her bathroom business on her own.
High-rise apartment dwellers with small dogs also may prefer to rain their dogs to do their business inside. Far better to let the dog do her business in a designated indoor area than to make a mad dash to the elevator and outdoors to a proper potty spot.
And of course, indoor training seems like a great idea on those dark and stormy nights when the last thing you want to do is to take your Beagle out for a bathroom break. The indoor bathroom allows you both to stay warm and dry whenever your dog needs to take care of business.
But lest you think that indoor training is a great idea, consider the disadvantages.
The big minus that indoor training carries for the Beagle owner is that the Beagle’s puddles and deposits may be a little too large, unwieldy, and gross for the owner to handle inside. That’s because many Beagles are just a little too large to use the indoor potty — especially if it’s a litter box. Confining your Beagle’s business to an indoor location may seem convenient at first, but having to clean up that business from within your home day in and day out is likely to get very old very fast. And let’s not forget the smell of Beagle poop and pee: Both stink and are a major downside to indoor training.

Outdoor potty pluses and minuses

The outdoor potty is probably better for most Beagles. When you take your dog outdoors, you don’t have to worry about dealing with the indoor canine bathroom, or that your dog will outgrow her litter box or newspapers. In addition, opting for the outdoor bathroom enables you to multitask: You can exercise your Beagle outdoors during the same excursion in which you take her to do her business.
Still not convinced? Choosing to have your dog go outside frees you from having to keep oodles of newspapers on hand or make innumerable trips to the store to buy dog litter. And when you travel, your dog can poop or pee anywhere outdoors; you don’t need to tote the litter box and dog litter wherever you go.
Of course, snowy days and stormy nights (and vice versa) can cause the most devoted Beagle owner to question the wisdom of locating the canine bathroom outdoors — but proper clothing for you and, perhaps, your Beagle (which you can find at any major pet supply retailer) can mitigate some of that disadvantage. And if you work all day, you can’t expect your full-grown, housetrained dog to hold her water or other stuff for more than eight or nine hours or so. However, hiring a dog walker or enrolling your Beagle in doggy day care can forestall accidents that result from your little hound having to “hold it” for too long.

You gotta choose

If you’ve read the previous two sections and you’re thinking that I’m solidly aligned with those who housetrain their Beagles outdoors, you’re right. I think that keeping dog doo outdoors, even when the weather is less than hospitable to human and canine exercise, ultimately is more convenient and sanitary under most circumstances than doing that business indoors.


Still, you may think it would be great to teach your Beagle to potty outdoors on nice days and spread some newspapers on the ground so your dog can do her business indoors when the weather isn’t to your liking. Unfortunately, though, what’s convenient for you will only confuse your dog — and the result of that confusion will be decidedly inconvenient. (In other words, you’ll be cleaning up accidents.) 

For these reasons, I strongly suggest that you choose to teach your Beagle to do her business outdoors. If your heart is set on having her do the doo inside, though, check out my own book, Housetraining For Dummies (Wiley), which contains extensive information on indoor training.

Getting in Gear

You wouldn’t put on a pair of stilettos before running a mile around the local track, would you? Of course not. Instead, you’d probably don a pair of sturdy athletic shoes. Your decision would be based on the understanding that using the right equipment is crucial to succeeding at whatever you’re trying to do.
That understanding also applies to housetraining. Your Beagle will learn proper potty protocol much faster if you gather the right gear together before you try to teach her bathroom basics.

Don’t hate the crate

First, last, and foremost, you need a crate. It doesn’t matter which kind of crate you use (Chapter Preparing for Your Beagle’s Arrival outlines your options) — but without a crate, you’ll have a much harder time teaching your Beagle where and when to potty. But with a crate, housetraining can be relatively easy. That’s because a crate takes advantage of a basic canine instinct — a reluctance to dirty the den — and helps your little hound learn to hold her poop and pee until you can get her to the designated potty place.
And before you start to fret about what other doggy parents may think, proper use of the crate is not cruel to the dog. In fact, many dogs enjoy their crates because they know they can beat a retreat to their own inner sanctums whenever they feel the need to chill. My own dog, Allie, is taking her afternoon nap in her open crate even as I type this housetraining primer. She often chooses to go into her crate on her own. Your Beagle can learn to do the same. To understand the role a crate plays in housetraining, see the “Following Five Steps” section later in this chapter.

Keeping things clean

No matter how diligent you are in your housetraining efforts, your Beagle will make some mistakes during the learning process. Such mistakes aren’t a big deal, unless you fail to clean up those mistakes quickly and completely.
Why is proper cleanup so important? Because the smell of poop or pee residue is an aromatic come-hither to your Beagle. If you fail to get rid of the odor as well as the stain from your little hound’s bathroom transgression, she’ll feel compelled to go right back to the scene of her earlier crime and become a repeat offender.


However, the right cleanup equipment can help your Beagle make far fewer mistakes than would otherwise be the case. To determine whether a cleanup product will do the job, check to see whether the product contains enzymes. An enzymatic cleaner not only obliterates any stains that result from doggy bathroom mishaps, it also eliminates the odors that such mishaps produce. Examples of such cleaners are Petastic, Nature’s Miracle, Urine Off, Equalizer, and the oh-so-wonderfully named Anti-Icky-Poo. You can order the latter from; the others are available from pet supply retailers. No matter what you buy, though, just follow the instructions on the bottle to get the cleanup done.


Don’t use ammonia to clean up your Beagle’s bathroom mistakes. Ammonia may get rid of the stain, but the smell is almost identical  to the smell of dog pee. That odor will almost certainly promptyour pooch to return to the scene of his earlier anointing and do an encore. Ditto for club soda, which also gets rid of the stain but not the smell.

Let someone else doo it

If you truly can’t stand to pick up your dog’s poop (even after you follow the directions in Chapter Managing Your Beagle’s Day-to-Day Health), never fear — you can hire someone else to scoop it. In many major metropolitan areas and their suburbs, companies dedicated to the removal of canine waste will dispatch technicians to your home on a regular basis to doo their thing. The costs of these pooper-scooper services vary depending on your local area, the size of your property, the number of dogs you have, and how often the company visits.
To find a pooper-scooper service in your area, check out the International Directory of Dog Waste Removal Services at

Other helpful items

A few other items that can help you teach bathroom basics to your Beagle include:

Paper towels: These not only soak up bathroom boo-boos, but create a scent cloth that tells your Snoopy-dog exactly where she should do her business.

Lots of plastic bags: Cleaning up after your dog makes a deposit is a basic component of responsible dog ownership.

A urine detector: If your Beagle keeps anointing the same spot in your home, even though you think you’ve cleaned it up, plunking down $20 or so for a urine detector can be a worthwhile investment. Among the products available are Simple Solution’s Spot Spotter, which uses ultraviolet light to reveal urine spots that you can’t see.

What you absolutely don’t need

Pet supply companies offer a plethora of products designed to aid the housetraining process. In reality, though, a lot of these products really aren’t necessary. Some of the stuff you don’t need includes

A housebreaking aid: This is a fancy name for a bottle of drops that show your Beagle where to do the doo. A scent cloth is a heck of a lot cheaper (see the “Step 2: Pick a potty place” section later in this chapter for more about scent cloths).

A pooper-scooper: You really don’t need this item. It’s unwieldy and tough to use precisely. Why bother? Use plastic bags instead (Chapter Managing Your Beagle’s Day-to-Day Health tells you how).

Training pads: These are designed for indoor training, which generally isn’t a good housetraining option for a Beagle. And even if you do decide to go the indoor route, using newspapers is cheaper and using dog litter is neater.

Doggy diapers: Diapers can help an incontinent dog, but they do nothing to help your Beagle learn her bathroom basics.

Following Five Steps

To housetrain your Beagle, you need to take advantage of her desire to have her own den; her equally strong desire to refrain from dirtying that den; and her awesome sense of smell. The task is easy when you break it down into five steps.

Step 1: Create the den

Before you do anything else, get a properly sized crate and make sure your Beagle is accustomed to it. Chapter Preparing for Your Beagle’s Arrivalgives you the lowdown on how to buy a proper crate; Chapter Welcoming Your Beagle Home tells you all you need to know about introducing the crate to your four-legged friend.
The benefit of using a crate in housetraining is that your Beagle will do everything she can to avoid dirtying her den, which is how she views the crate. She’ll hold her poo and pee, just waiting for the instant that you open up her crate and usher her to the spot where she can relieve herself. See “Step 4: Follow a schedule” for a timeline of when to put your dog in her crate and how long she can wait for the next potty break.

Step 2: Pick a potty place

Find a spot in your backyard or elsewhere on your property where you can take your Beagle whenever she needs a bathroom break. Then, show your dog where she should do the doo by creating a scent cloth and place that cloth on the designated potty place when you take her out for a pit stop.
As Chapter Welcoming Your Beagle Home explains, a scent cloth is a piece of cloth or paper towel that you use to wipe your Beagle’s urinary area immediately after she’s peed. Because dogs are drawn to the smell of their own urine, any place you put that cloth will lure your Beagle there, at which point she will almost certainly proceed to open her floodgates.

Step 3: Be vigilant

Yes, your Beagle will mess up (literally) during the housetraining process, but your objective is to keep those mess-ups to a minimum. The only way to achieve that objective is to watch your Beagle like a hawk — in other words, do not take your eyes off her — when she is out of her crate. If you can’t watch her that carefully, put her back into the crate until you can.
Why such vigilance? Because you want to make sure that if she shows signs of needing to go, you can whisk her outdoors to the potty spot to unload.


Common signs of needing to use the little Beagle’s room are:
  • Pacing back and forth
  • Trotting around in circles
  • Suddenly sniffing the ground intently
  • Suddenly stopping whatever she’s been doing
If your dog performs any of those maneuvers, get her to her potty spot pronto — and praise her lavishly when she poops or pees there.
If she starts to unload while she’s still in the house, distract her. Try saying “No!” in a loud voice. The sound may startle her and cause her to stop her bathroom operation. That’s your cue; scoop her up and get her out to the potty spot immediately. If she completes her offload there, praise her to the skies for doing a good potty and tell her what a good girl she is.

Step 4: Follow a schedule

The whole housetraining process goes a lot easier when you and your Beagle follow a schedule. That’s because dogs thrive on predictability — and when you create a potty schedule for your little friend, she’ll learn to expect a bathroom break and hold it the rest of the time.
The number of potty breaks you take depends on your dog’s age and degree of housetraining prowess. A very young puppy may need to go out hourly. A slightly older pup needs bathroom breaks when she first wakes up, after every meal, after every playtime, after every nap, and just before bedtime. A housetrained adult generally needs no more than three or four breaks each day.
Table 14-1 shows a possible schedule for a 3-month-old puppy.
Table 14-1
Training Schedule for 3-Month-Old Puppy
7:00 a.m.
Get up.
Take puppy outside.
Put puppy in crate.
7:30 a.m.
Feed puppy.
Offer water.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for 15 minutes.
Put puppy in crate.
Offer water.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for 15 minutes.
Put puppy in crate.
Feed puppy.
Offer water.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for 30 minutes.
Put puppy in crate.
Offer water.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for 15 minutes.
Put puppy in crate.
5:30 p.m.
Feed puppy.
Offer water.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for up to 1 hour and/or let puppy hang out with family in the kitchen.
7:00 p.m.
Take puppy outside.
Play with puppy for 15 minutes.
Put puppy in crate.
Before bed
Take puppy outside.
Put puppy in crate.
During the night
Take puppy outside if necessary.
For an adult Beagle, you can skip the midmorning break, the midday meal, and the midafternoon break. Then you do what’s left: the 7:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., noon (minus the meal), 5:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and before-bed breaks.


The housetraining schedule for a 3-month-old puppy or even for an adult Beagle assumes that someone will be home during the day to provide the frequent potty breaks the canine housetrainee needs. If you’re not home during the day, though, you need to provide alternative arrangements.

If your Beagle is less than 4 or 5 months of age, you’ll need to do one of two things: arrange for someone to come to your home during the day to take your little one out, or temporarily allow her to potty on newspapers during the day. If you choose to allow your Beagle to use newspapers in the early stages of housetraining, you train her to go indoors, all the while keeping an eye on the calendar.
Start by spreading out several thicknesses of newspapers in a corner of your kitchen or laundry room. Place a scent cloth on the papers so your puppy knows that’s where she’s supposed to potty. Then, start counting the days until she’s 6 months old. At that point — or when you come home to dry newspapers for at least a week, you can switch to the outdoor potty.
Keep your puppy in the room where her newspapers are while you’re out, and make sure that the room is enclosed by a door or baby gate so she can’t wander elsewhere in the house.
For the adult housetrainee, have her stay in her crate during the morning, and have someone come to your home at noon to give her a potty break and some playtime. She should then stay in her crate until you come home. And until your dog is completely housetrained, don’t work late or go out for some after-work drinks with your colleagues. Your Beagle needs you to come home and give her that potty break!

Step 5: Be patient

Time’s on your side when you housetrain your Beagle, but you still need to be patient. You’re asking her to learn something that’s not easy to learn: to not poop or pee except when she knows she’s allowed to. A healthy dose of patience, humane use of the crate, constant vigilance, and a consistent schedule will all help your Beagle become a housetraining ace.
How do you know when your dog is fully housetrained? Check out the “Declaring Victory” section later in this chapter.

Addressing Accidents

No matter how hard you try, your Beagle housetrainee will have at least a couple of accidents while you’re teaching her basic potty protocol. Those accidents won’t necessarily be a bad thing, though — if you use those occasions to show your Beagle what not to do and to improve your skills as a bathroom manners instructor.

Catch her in the act

You may have the good luck to catch your Beagle in the middle of a bathroom transgression. If you see your dog start to squat, distract her any way you can. A loud “No!” or clap of the hands are just two ways to interrupt the offload. After you’ve got her attention, pick her up and get her to the potty spot as fast as you can. If she completes the offload there, praise her for going in the right place — and vow to keep a closer eye on her next time so you’ll get her outside before she starts her potty maneuvers.

Clean up without comment

You’ve just come home to find a puddle or pile in your hallway. Then you see your Beagle: ears back, tail between her legs, looking away from you. You think, “She knows what she did, and now she feels guilty.” But you’re wrong.
Beagles, like all dogs, have short memories. She has no idea that you are unhappy about the little present she left you; she doesn’t even remember creating it. What she does see is your tension and your expression and she hears your loud voice. She knows you’re angry. She’s nervous, even scared — but she feels no guilt at all.


The lesson here: Don’t scold your dog or otherwise attempt to discipline her for having made a bathroom mistake. If you come upon the mistake, you’re too late to do anything other than clean it up. Do just that: Lay on the enzymatic cleaner and say nothing to your Beagle. Your bad temper will only frighten her, and a frightened student isn’t likely to learn as much as a student who likes her teacher. Plus, you’re getting angry at the wrong individual: If your Beagle has an accident, it’s your fault, not hers.

Troubleshoot the accident

Your Beagle’s misplaced puddle or pile should prompt you to conduct a thorough investigation at the scene of the “crime” to figure out why that “crime” occurred — and how you can prevent a recurrence. But you need not be a work-obsessed criminologist like William Petersen’s character on CSI to conduct an effective housetraining crime scene investigation. Just examine what you were doing when your Beagle goofed. Here are some housetraining boo-boos, and possible explanations as to why they occurred:

Did she pee when your back was turned? Never let her out of her crate unless you can watch her every second.

Did she eliminate in her crate? Make sure that your puppy’s crate is just large enough for her to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. And don’t leave your housetrainee for more than two or three hours if she’s a young puppy, and no more than four hours if she’s an older pup or young adult.

Did she pee or poop without warning? Start watching your puppy to see what she does just before she unloads. You’ll probably see that she does the same thing almost every time she does the doo (see the “Step 3: Be vigilant” section earlier in this chapter for a list of behaviors your Beagle is likely to perform when she needs to go). If she behaves that way in the house, that’s your cue to get her out to her potty spot — fast.

Does she have an accident on the same place every day? If so, you need to do a better clean-up job. Use a cleaner formulated especially for pet stains. See the “Keeping things clean” section earlier in this chapter for more details.

Declaring Victory

Housetraining a Beagle can seem like a tedious process. You may wish you could bag the whole business of schedules, cleanups, and vigilance. You’ll wonder when you can consider your Snoopy-dog fully housetrained. Here’s how to know when your little hound has mastered Housetraining 101:

She’s at least 6 months old. I don’t care how much of a housetraining prodigy you consider your Beagle to be — the fact is, most dogs can’t hold their poop or pee for an appreciable length of time until they reach this milestone.

She hasn’t goofed for at least a month. If your Beagle hasn’t made a bathroom boo-boo for a month or more, you can be pretty sure she’s got the housetraining thing down pat.

She asks to go out. If your dog finds a way to tell you that she needs to do the doo (for example, going to the door and whining, tapping her leash with her nose), consider yourself to be a successful housetrainer. (If you want to teach your dog to tell you that she needs to go, see the “You can ring my bell . . .” sidebar.)

You can ring my bell . . .

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your Beagle could tell you when she needs to go potty? Guess what: She can! Some dogs figure this out on their own — I once had a dog who would tap his leash with his nose and stare at me when he needed a bathroom break. But if your Beagle isn’t telling you when she needs to go out, you can teach her how. Here’s what to do:
1. Get something she can communicate with.
Find something that you can hang from a doorknob and that your Snoopy-dog can reach with her paws or nose. A good choice would be a set of Christmas bells, because they make a pleasant noise with just a slight touch.
2. Show her what to do.
Each time you take your dog out for a potty break, ring the bells. That way, she’ll associate the ringing bells with going out to do her business.
3. Let her try.
Sooner or later, your Beagle will want to investigate the bells herself. Encourage her to do just that: If she even sniffs the bells, praise her lavishly and give her a treat.
4. Heed her call.
The first time your dog actually taps the bells with her nose, paws at them, or otherwise causes them to ring, respond immediately: Take her out to her potty spot. If she goes, praise her lavishly — and pat yourself on the back for teaching her how to communicate with you.

Addressing Bathroom Issues

Some dogs ace their housetraining lessons, only to develop problems later. Often, such issues have nothing to do with housetraining, but reflect another problem. Here are some examples.

She pees on her back

The Beagle who rolls over onto her back and dribbles some urine when you approach doesn’t have a housetraining problem. Instead, she’s telling you that you’re the most wonderful being on earth. This behavior is submissive urination, and it’s easy to fix.

Start by ignoring your deferential doggy when you enter a room. After a few minutes, get down to her level by squatting or sitting on the floor. And don’t look directly at her, because she may feel intimidated by a direct stare, and she’ll piddle some more. Finally, speak to her softly. Don’t hug or kiss her, because she’ll get excited and pee.
By making yourself less intimidating to your Beagle, she’ll become more confident and the behavior will stop.

He christens everything

If your male Beagle is lifting his leg and spraying vertical objects, he doesn’t have housetraining problems. He’s got turf issues. Dogs of both genders use their urine to mark their territory, but the problem is more prevalent among males than females.
The best way to end a dog’s attempts at marksmanship is to neuter him. A neutered male is much less turf-conscious than his intact counterpart. Expect to do some follow-up housetraining after the neutering, though, just to make sure he breaks his bad habit.
Make sure, too, that you clean up any canine christening thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner. Failure to clean up completely will bring your dog back for encores.

She strains to pee


The dog who tries to pee, only to produce a wee bit of wee-wee, may have stones in her urinary tract. Take her to your vet pronto. Untreated urinary stones can be fatal.

She pees all the time

The housetrained dog who suddenly starts peeing all the time in all the wrong places probably doesn’t have housetraining amnesia. Instead, she may have a urinary tract infection or other medical condition. Get her to her vet as soon as possible. The vet may do urine tests, blood work, and/or X-rays to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Regardless of the cause, it’s a good idea to take your Beagle out as often as she needs to go, and encourage her to drink lots of water so she can flush out her system.
by Susan McCullough