House training without a crate: constant supervision

Video: How to Housebreak a Puppy Without a Crate : Puppy Training

House training without a crate - A lab chilling on some stairs

© / tigrakoshka

This is the 8th part of my 13 part series:  House Training – The Ultimate Guide.

There are many reasons an owner may not want or be able to use a crate during house training.

Some people just don’t like them, others may have adopted a dog that experienced abuse from a previous owner involving a crate and some just don’t have the room for one in a small home or cannot stand the look of one ruining their interior design.

The good news is, you can succeed at house training without a crate. Using one isn’t essential, it’s just the preferred option for many.

So what are the alternatives? There’s a few, but they all essentially come down to one thing: ‘constant supervision’.

Contents & Quick Navigation

  • 4 Who Is This Method Most Suited To? Who Should Use It?
  • 5 Is House Training Without A Crate Difficult?
  • 6 Conclusion
  • 7 My Complete House Training Program
  • What Is ‘Constant Supervision’ House Training?

    Constant supervision house training covers a range of techniques that don’t involve the use of a crate. Instead it relies on constantly watching your dog or puppy, 100% of the time.

    Using a crate takes of advantage of the fact a puppy will not eliminate inside their den if it isn’t so large that they can toilet at one end and sleep at the other.

    So when you cannot supervise them, you pop them in a crate.

    But if you’re not using one, no other confinement space will be so small that your puppy is discouraged from eliminating in there.

    Without a crate, you have no opportunity to take your eyes off your puppy with a guarantee that they won’t make a mistake. And every mistake is a missed opportunity to train the right thing, a backward step in training and certainly some deep cleaning to do.

    Therefore, the only quick path to success is constant, and I mean CONSTANT supervision. You must watch them like a hawk to be sure they won’t potty on your floors and carpets. They can never be left unsupervised.

    How Does Constant Supervision House Training Work? What’s The Basic Technique?

    The idea is a dog or puppy who isn’t house trained can never be left alone or unwatched in the home.

    It takes just a few seconds for a puppy to relieve themselves where they shouldn’t and you simply must prevent this.

    So you have to learn to watch for your puppy’s particular behaviors that signal they’re about to relieve themselves and be ready to jump into action to take them to their bathroom spot.

    Some signs to look out for are sniffing the ground, trying to escape to a quiet spot, circling around or squatting.

    You have to be watching so keenly that you either prevent any mistakes, or catch every mistake and correct them, stopping them in their tracks and directing them towards pottying in the right place.

    This sounds a lot of work, and it is, but you can make things a little easier on yourself.

    You can sometimes have your puppy sitting in your lap, or sleeping beside you and they will not toilet on you (although it’s not completely unknown!) so you can relax then a little.

    You can also attach them to a leash and have them walk around the house with you as you go (umbilical cord training). If you’re physically connected, they cannot sneak off and make a mistake.

    But the most important thing is that you always have either an eye on them, or a physical connection, so you always know what they’re doing.

    What Equipment Do You Need? How Do You Prepare?

    As with all methods of house training, there is some equipment you’ll need. But constant supervision training, especially if you are training your puppy to toilet outside, is the method that requires the least.

    With true constant supervision where yourself or a family member is home 100% of the time, you don’t need a crate, a playpen or puppy pads.

    All you need is a leash, collar, some food treats as a reward for doing the right thing and some cleaning equipment for the inevitable accidents.

    But many of you will need to spend at least some time out of the home and leave your puppy alone. So you will likely need puppy pads and a baby gate or play pen at least.

    Some Form Of Confinement Is Almost Always Necessary

    Nobody, but nobody can have their puppy with them and supervise them 100% of the time.

    If you do not have a crate and need to pop out for a couple of hours, you should instead confine your puppy to a larger but fully puppy proofed area, preferably one that is easy to clean.

    The best advice is to create an area in one of the following two ways:

    1. Use a baby gate or pet barrier to restrict your puppy to a single room, usually a bathroom or the kitchen.
    2. Purchase and use a ‘puppy play pen’ or ‘x-pen’ which effectively fences off a small area for your puppy to spend time in that keeps them out of trouble.

    With both options, you must make sure that the space available is large enough for bedding and some water at one end and some paper or a puppy pad for pottying at the other.

    My article on house training products and supplies details what you need and why for all methods of house training.

    After reading the article you will easily be able to decide what equipment and tools you need, without wasting money on unnecessary things.

    Video: House training a puppy without a crate-house training a puppy - common mistakes

    Who Is This Method Most Suited To? Who Should Use It?

    It’s a method best suited to people who can spend all day with their puppy. People that work from home, or the retired.

    It’s also suitable for people who just do not agree with the use of a crate.

    Furthermore, it’s a necessity for people who have a crate phobic dog or have received advice from the rescue center when adopting not to crate their dog.

    It’s worth noting that every owner uses constant supervision in their house training, whether using a crate or not.

    When using one you can enjoy short periods where you don’t have to watch your puppy and know they will not have an accident, and you will enjoy not having to clean up so many mistakes because there will be fewer.

    But when a puppy is outside of the crate, you will be using constant supervision too. It’s the only way.

    Is House Training Without A Crate Difficult?

    As a fair assessment, I would have to say constant supervision is the hardest method to use.

    You have to watch your puppy closely every second of the day. This is VERY hard to do. Life gets in the way in the form of washing, cooking, visitors, phone calls, household chores and more.

    Spending so much time having to supervise without breaks is draining, and when you slip up they can sneak off and potty anywhere.

    Additionally, you have no crate to temporarily confine your puppy during which time they will ‘hold it’. So without crating, accidents in the home will definitely be increased by comparison.

    Furthermore, compared to paper training there’s no paper or puppy pads your puppy can go to of their own accord. So you must always be on high alert.

    But if you have the time, are always home and can get into the habit of supervising your puppy, the method is effective and you will certainly succeed.

    But I would still recommend utilizing paper training and a baby gate or puppy play pen for the unavoidable times where you just cannot be there to supervise. You can pop them in their play pen and at least keep the rest of your home clean.


    Any dog that isn’t yet house trained must be closely supervised at all times. And the second they make moves to potty where they shouldn’t, you have to interrupt them and take them to the right spot.

    This is the be all and end all of this method.

    I recommend and use the crate method myself, but if it doesn’t suit your situation, constant supervision is a method that with patience and consistency will have you find success.

    But constant supervision isn’t only for crate averse owners, it’s a very large part of any house training program. It must be used any time a puppy is free in the home and not in their crate or long-term confinement area. This method plays a large part in my detailed puppy house training article that you can read by clicking here.

    There is another method that uses constant supervision and no crate, one that requires slightly less concentration so is a little less demanding on the trainer. And you can read about that here: ‘Umbilical cord house training‘.

    My Complete House Training Program

    This was part 8 in a 12-part series where I’ve provided all the guidance you could possibly ever need and covered everything I can think of for you to be able to successfully house train your puppy or adult dog.

    Please see the entire series linked to below:

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