House training a new dog or puppy can seem a daunting task to the new owner. But understanding your options and the reasons behind the training can go a long way toward insuring a positive outcome.
Dogs are den animals. In the wild, instinct encourages them to keep their dens clean by eliminating somewhere outside of their sleeping place. Because both urine and faeces have strong scents, this scent in or around the den could scare away prey or attract predators. It is this instinct that allows for housetraining.
Keeping your dog or puppy on a consistent schedule for eating, drinking and potty breaks will go a long way toward establishing good bathroom habits. Puppies should be given the chance to eliminate within 15 minutes of eating, drinking, waking, or hard play sessions. Some experts believe that puppies may not be developed enough physically to completely control their bladder and bowels until they are at least 4 months of age. Housetraining can and should begin before that, but don’t expect total control until sometime after 4 months.
Some breeds, especially certain toy breeds, are more difficult to housetrain than others. Patience and persistence are always important. Seemingly stubborn cases may actually be the result of a medical condition. Always speak with your veterinarian if you are having difficulty housetraining your dog, or if a normally trustworthy dog starts having accidents.
If an area smells like a bathroom to a dog, it is a bathroom. Always clean housetraining mistakes with an enzymatic cleaner to reduce the chance of repeats another option is white vinegar.
Below are different ways to housetrain your dog:
Choose a confined location such as a bathroom or utility room. Cover the floor completely with papers or puppy pads. Place the dog’s bed in one corner of the room. Instinct will probably cause the puppy to go to the bathroom in a spot as far away from their bed as possible. Once the dog is eliminating consistently in the same general area, slowly begin removing the papers or pads closest to their bed. Change the remaining papers frequently, but place a small piece of the soiled paper on top of the clean paper in the area you want them to eliminate.
Continue until you have removed all but one or two sheets. If they eliminate on a bare floor at any time, clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner, and recover the area in papers. Once they are consistently using one or two papers, you can begin to slowly widen the area the dog is confined in. Reduce the area if accidents occur.
While many people cringe at the thought of placing their new dog in a “cage”, crate
training is, in fact, a natural and relatively comfortable experience for the dog. As a rule, dogs, being den animals, feel safe and secure in small, confined areas. A crate is simply an artificial den. It makes housetraining much easier, and protects the dog and your home when you are not able to closely supervise your new companion.
Selecting a Crate
Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in her crate. For puppies, it is important that the crate not be big enough to allow the puppy to eliminate in one corner and sleep in another. Wire crates often fold for storage, but may be heavy.
Although instincts encourage them to seek out a den, your dog may not immediately fall in love with their new crate. Introduce it gradually; throwing a treat into the crate and allowing them to go in, eat it, and come right back out. Praise them each time they enter the crate. Feed them in the crate. Don’t close the door until they seems very comfortable. Then, open it immediately. Gradually increase the length of time the door is closed.
Once the dog is used to the crate, allow them to spend longer periods in it while you stay nearby. Never open the door of the crate while your dog is whining, barking, scratching, or doing anything you don’t want to encourage. Do not praise your dog when you let him out. Never use the crate for punishment, or drag your dog over to it. Never allow children to tease a crated dog, bang on the crate, or enter the crate with the dog. This is your dog’s private space. Teach children to respect it as such.
With your dog safely in the crate, you can begin serious housetraining. Anytime you cannot actively supervise your pet, place him in the crate with a Kong stuffed with treats/peanut butter or some other fun toy. Each time you take him out of the crate, take him straight outdoors. Do not play with them until they have gone to the toilet. Praise them profusely, then play.
Anytime you see them sniffing and circling, chances are good that they needs to go to their bathroom spot. If you catch them in the act of squatting in an inappropriate location, give a loud, sharp “NO!” and pick them up, sliding their tail between their back legs. This will often stop the elimination long enough for you to get them to the proper spot. Then praise, praise, praise when they finish it there.
Punishing the dog after the fact will NOT help housebreak him. It will teach him to fear you, and see you as unpredictable. Remember the 3-second rule: praise or punishment will be connected with whatever the dog or puppy was doing 3 seconds before it occurred. Rubbing their nose in accidents will only teach them to leave the scene as quickly as possible.