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House Training Dos and Don’ts

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:45pm
Brindle and white puppy with red collar on

You’ve brought a new dog into your home—congratulations! Now comes your first dog-training challenge: house training.

House training is not an exact science—there’s no sure-fire formula or timetable that will work for every dog. The important thing is to make it a positive, not a stressful, experience. Being attentive, patient and consistent are the keys to success, along with the following dos and don’ts:

Do: Closely supervise your dog. Limit the dog’s run of the house to the one or two rooms where you are able to see her at all times. Dogs usually show “pre-pottying” behavior such as sniffing, circling and walking with stiff back legs; all signs that you should get her to the potty area ASAP! As the training begins to take hold, you can slowly enlarge her territory as she learns where the potty area is—and that the house is not a toilet!

Don’t: Yell at or spank a dog for a mess she made earlier. If you catch her in the act, it’s okay to startle her by clapping or making a noise (hopefully this will stop her long enough for you to whisk her outside). But a dog will not learn anything by being scolded for a past accident, even one a few minutes old. Just clean it up and soldier on.

Do: Offer big, enthusiastic praise when she gets it right. Whether your goal is for your dog to eliminate on pee pads indoors or to do it outside, you have to really throw a party for her when she succeeds. Lavish her with praise, affection and some yummy treats!

Don’t: Rub her face in it. Ever!!! In addition to this action making your dog fear you, she’s incapable of making the connection that it’s the act of soiling indoors you object to—to her, you just really hate pee and poop. If she thinks that the waste itself is what you dislike, she’ll only get sneakier about hiding it from you.

For more detailed advice on house training specific to your pet, please visit our Virtual Pet Behaviorist articles on Weekend Crate Training, House Training Your Puppy, House Training Your Adult Dog or House Training Your Puppy Mill Dog.

Comments

Comments

Monica Kelly Wright

I've found that the secret is frequent trips outside, no longer than 2 hours between and within 20 minutes of eating. Use commands like "go potty", "go poopy" and don't go inside until they do. Enthusiastic praise and pet after they go outside. Also, use plenty of white vinegar or enzyme on any accidents, so they don't associate the spot with potty. I never, ever, yell at them, it only confuses them about the act of going potty, not the place. They always seem to get it within days.

Doc Crawford

When I'm toilet training a puppy, every time it does its business, I say, "Get it done!" every time, while the puppy is squatting. Within about 4 months, it's simply another command, like "sit" or "stay"--then when I'm traveling, I can let the dog out at a rest area, and instead of having to wait for it to sniff blade of grass within a quarter mile, I simply tell it what to do, it does it, and we get on our way.

Darlene Jackson

We have used this method for years on our new puppies. We bought clear plastic sheeting, put it down in the only room the dogs were allowed. First watch them closely, and right after they eat or wake up take them outside. If they do mess on the plastic sheeting you clean it up. Using a spray bottle with a little bleach and water. Now there is no scent or stains on your carpet or flooring. It works!!!!

Lyn

We lived on an upper floor of a high-rise in Italy. We bought a pup while there. Rather than try to get our puppy downstairs and outside where her choices would have been beach or forest, we used a spare shower stall to toilet train. We lined it with newspapers. For the first 3 years of her life, that was her potty. When we returned with her to the states, she totally adapted to going outside--never having a single accident inside. Good dog!

Darlene Jackson

We have used this method for years on our new puppies. We bought clear plastic sheeting, put it down in the only room the dogs were allowed. First watch them closely, and right after they eat or wake up take them outside. If they do mess on the plastic sheeting you clean it up. Using a spray bottle with a little bleach and water. Now there is no scent or stains on your carpet or flooring. It works!!!!

Amy

We have not had good luck with any of this good advice. We have a 7 year old dachshund rescue, who pees all over the house all the time. I've tried putting down pee pads on the upstairs landing. I have tried having the dog leashed to my belt when I'm home. I have tried spraying lavender near his bed and then expand the area (since I was told they don't pee near where they sleep or eat). I have tried having BarkBusters come to the house for home training (that was an expensive waste of money). Nothing has worked. He is very good about coming and letting me know he needs to go outside. He'll jump up and get agitated and I always let him out immediately. He goes and then might come back in and pee again. Oddly enough he sometimes pees near his food (not on it). And he has peed on his bed, or around it. I even bought a new one so it wouldn't have any other dog smell, to no avail.

D

I have a Jack Russell who was a rescue that was never taught to keep his crate (or anything else) clean. While he does understand to go potty outside, he's unreliable in the house--he's nervous and tries to be dominant, so he'll pee to mark and pee because he gets startled. It sounds like your dog *may* be marking (a lot of dogs will pee near a food dish to claim it).

At his age, you may not be able to change his behavior, but you can change the effects. I ended up buying my dog a bunch of belly bands (strips of padded fabric with Velcro on the ends) and lining them with Depends when he's in the house to keep me from strangling him. I still give him plenty of walks and change the Depends regularly and we're both much happier. You can usually buy a bunch of belly bands on e-bay, relatively cheaply. You'll want a bunch, so you can wash some while he's wearing others.

Good luck!

Amy

Thanks, I am in the process of ordering belly bands. He hates them and tries to wriggle out of them, but it does help when I'm at work and he's at home. And we do have another dog, older, who was here first. They get along great, and both go in and out together all the time. It's a good thing his face is so adorable, because I'd strangle him otherwise! :-)

Cynthia

what the hell are belly bands? sounds barbaric

Margaret

Not at all, basically male dog underwear for the 'unreliable' or the incapacitated. They even make them with suspenders for those who have figured out how to wiggle out of them.

They are really helpful for older puppy mill rescues who just don't understand not going where you live and for handicapped dogs or dogs who dribble.

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