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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.

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Patricia

I have found that the best thing is that when you bring your new pup home put him in the area where you would like for him to pee, say "go pea" or whatever you prefer "Hurry Up". Stay there until he/she does then load on the praise. We did that with our border collie/yellow lab and every time he had to pee, he would bolt for that spot.

RockinRobin

What about kittens? My daughter took in two recently. Both are from different litters. The first was found and didn't have her eyes open yet. The second was a couple of weeks older. We had to make the first one go using a wet wash cloth. The second one was going on it's own. Now they don't seem to have a clue about proper litterbox use. They will go in the box but also anywhere else they are at the time, including on her bed. She keeps the box clean at all times and have gotten two boxes so they each have their own. Any ideas?

Rachel

I would like to see some information about this regarding cats. Even though most cats don't need as much training as dogs seem to, they still do need some house training.

Tracey South

I was just talking about this a couple days ago.......I have an old book that is so out-dated it actually recommends this craziness ! So glad we have come along with better ways to do it. Another thing, people don't realize is, dogs do not "punish us" by pooping in the house , etc. They don't even think about poop the way we do. think about it ! My biggest problem, though, is my dog will not go to the bathroom (not even to pee) in our own yard ! He will only do it on a walk.

Anonymous

I had a golden and a black retriever for 8 years, whom I got as an 8 week old puppy( he is no more now and miss him), when he was new, he would play out side and poop inside and I read from a book that as soon as they eat they like relieve themselves, so I took him out right after his food and let him play,and every time I saw him doing a poop or pee outside I said poo and poo ( same tone every time ) and pee pee in the same tone, within a week or so he was trained and gradually I could give him the command on these using the same tone every time and he would do it outside , and we had no accident inside.

prema

I had a golden and a black retriever for 8 years, whom I got as an 8 week old puppy( he is no more now and miss him), when he was new, he would play out side and poop inside and I read from a book that as soon as they eat they like relieve themselves, so I took him out right after his food and let him play,and every time I saw him doing a poop or pee outside I said poo and poo ( same tone every time ) and pee pee in the same tone, within a week or so he was trained and gradually I could give him the command on these using the same tone every time and he would do it outside , and we had no accident inside.

Kim

Does anyone have a suggestion on how we can get our puppy to stop eating his own waste. We got him at 6months old from ppl who kept him in a crate for long periods of time. I think he may have done it to clean up his area!? He is 8 months now, potty trained, not crated for long times. We have to be there as soon as he is done to pick it up, otherwise he turns around and starts getting rid of it. Any advise would be appreciated! ....

Doug in Weho

We only adopt dogs and cats from the shelter. Our current dog, Audrey, was rescued when she was about 3-4 year-old. When we first got her, she was so traumatized from being separated from her previous owner and from being spayed prior to the rescue that she would not look at us or move from one spot in the house. Whenever we pick her up to take her outside since she does not want to follow us or move at all, we would get a little surprised present underneath. It took us a lot of coaching and positive reinforcement to conquer her trust. Audrey is a Welsh Corgi (could be a mixed) so she is very intelligent and stubborn. She likes to dig her paws if she does not like to go somewhere. She has a mind of her own. Anyhow, now we got her used to going outside 5-8 times a day that it's now an expectation. She definitely will remind us if we ever forget. She is the boss in the family. Our advice is exactly like what ASPCA suggested: lots of patient, affection, empathy, and understanding. And yes, you certainly could teach an old dog new tricks. Never ever give up.

doggyfan

I absolutely agree with consistency. You need to have them go in the same area again and again so they get the picture. I have potty trained my dog to go indoors on this real grass patch called DoggieLawn. It's amazing, since we just leave it in the same area and she got the picture fairly quickly (with patient training).

- doggyfan
www.doggielawn.com

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