“Potty Outside! Good job!”

Shiba Inus are very smart and very clean dogs. These two characteristics make house training a Shiba puppy easier than most dogs.

Miko was potty trained before I brought her home. Her breeder house trained all of their puppies prior to sale. The instructions they gave all new puppy parents included an important reminder:

~ It is the owners fault if a puppy has an accident in the house ~

Kishi wasn’t potty trained when I brought her home. She learned quickly what “potty outside” meant and within 2-3 days she began asking to go out (walking to the backdoor) when she had to relieve herself.

Here are my tips for house training a Shiba puppy.

Always remember!

  1. Be consistent.
  2. Do not punish your puppy.
  3. Accidents are not your puppy’s fault.

In the beginning

  • Decide on a command you will use for a verbal reward and positive reinforcement. I use “Yes!”
  • Determine if you will have a bell next to or on the handle of the door for your puppy to jingle, or another way to teach them to tell you when they have to potty. My girls have a whimper that tells me what they need.
  • Use a verbal command to train your puppy when it’s time to go outside. S/he will learn the word(s) and the inflection in your voice. (Reinforce ringing bells or other aid they are to use to tell you they need to go outside.) I still use “Outside” and “Let’s go outside!”
  • **In general, Shibas prefer a bathroom space that is away from their house. I took Kishi (and Miko) to the back fence and would say, “potty outside” or “pee pee outside.” Kishi was usually too busy to potty and would run back to the door. I simply and patiently picked her up, returned to the grass next to the fence and said, “potty outside.” I repeated this routine until she relieved herself.
  • As soon as your puppy relieves him/herself, reward them with your chosen verbal command. I’d excitedly say, “Yes! Good job!”


There are specific times when you should, without question or hesitation, take your puppy outside to potty. Doing so will result in successful house training and few if any accidents.

  • First thing in the morning
  • Every hour to 1.5 hours when they are very young
  • After eating
  • After playing
  • After chewing on toys or bones
  • After they wake up from a nap, even a short nap
  • Right before going to bed for the night

If your puppy asks, respond. Imagine if you had to wait for someone to open the bathroom door for you. Imagine if they told you to “wait” when you had an emergency. You get the idea. When your puppy asks, let them/take them outside.

Refrain from using a rigid predetermined amount of time between potty breaks. Use the activities above as a guide for when to take your puppy outside. Even if s/he just chewed a bone for 20 minutes, take them out!

In case of an accident

  • Do not scold a puppy after an accident. Scolding can result in your puppy hiding where they make a mistake, and they may start running away from you if s/he has an accident.
  • Simply tell them “no” if they have an accident in front of you. Clean the accident with a paper towel. Take your puppy and the used paper towel outside to where your puppy potties and put both on the ground. Kindly coax your puppy to sniff the towel and reinforce with your house training command, i.e., “potty outside.”

~ Rubbing their noses in a mistake doesn’t work. Please don’t do it. ~

  • False alarms can happen. Know your puppy and know if they don’t have to potty. There were times when Kishi and Miko didn’t have to go. I used the outside time for playing if there was a false alarm, which was almost always because I misread their communication.
  • Listen for how s/he tells you they have to potty. When you hear him/her ask, take them out.

In case of an accident

  • I use Natures Miracle to clean up messes. Research and choose a product that works for you and your puppy.
  • My life changed when I got a Bissell SpotBot Pet carpet cleaner. Consider getting one or a similar device if you can. And if not, old towels are always reliable.
  • Remember, rubbing their noses in a mistake doesn’t work. Please don’t do it.

**I know of Shiba Inu puppies who wouldn’t potty in his/her own yard, only to have an accident within minutes of going back inside the house. If this happens, take your puppy for a walk; they may just want to potty farther away from their home. In time, they will use their yard.

~ It is the owners fault if a puppy has an accident in the house ~

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