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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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Gisela

I tell my dog the same thing - it works every time!

Gisela

I tell my dog the same thing - it works every time!

D

Just furthering your idea a bit, Bill: I use separate commands for peeing ("Go potty") and pooping ("Hurry up"), so the dogs know which one I want them to do. If I know a dog hasn't pooped all day, I want to make sure it poops before I go to bed so I don't wake up to a mess.

Another important tip: While potty training, NEVER take your dog right back inside as soon as business is done. Always let the dog have at least 5 minutes to sniff/play/explore when they're done so that they don't get the idea that they should linger in their task, just to extend the walk.

Lyn

I have 3 dogs. One of my dogs was a puppy mill pup. Having never seen grass, she didn't know what a yard was for, and she's also very easily distracted. She responds to separate commands as well (her choice). "Go potty" works for pooping; "P P" works for urination. She was without a doubt the hardest pup to house break that I have ever seen. I have a bit of experience, as dogs have ALWAYS been a part of my life and I'm in my 60's. ASPCA's article is right on. The biggest secret to potty training is basically learning what works for your individual, companion animal and being consistent. Separate commands, bells on the door, pads--whatever works.

Mary

I also have a puppy mill Yorkie. I has her for 8 mo and she is still not house trained. She sometimes pees outside inside on the pea pad nothing consistent. I'm trying the commands and she just doesn't seem to catch on. I even walk her with my other dogs that pee on command but still no getting 100 %. Anymore tis?

Lyn

Mary, my puppy mill dog is a gigantic Standard Poodle. She came to live with us when she was around 10 weeks old. Puddles aren't fun, but at least your Yorkie's not as large, so she doesn't pee a river or a lake like my pup did. The good news is that most females don't scent-mark. (You didn't mention if you live in a house or apartment. My daughter's female scent-marked while they lived in an apartment and her toilet was at the park. Same dog, things changed when they moved into a house with their own yard. She no longer feels the need to mark her territory multiple times.) Females will often go in one spot for urination and another spot close by for poop. If you're going to be out for a while afterwards, wait until both are done.
My advice is just to keep trying and never give up. Using the same area as the toilet helps. (Be sure to keep the toilet area free of solid waste. Believe me, she will recognize the area because of the strong smells.)
Have you had her checked out medically to make certain that there's nothing wrong with her urinary tract or bladder? Have you purchased something to neutralize the urine smell inside? Have you spoken to your veterinarian? He/she might have some good free advice for you.
I, also thought that my 2 housebroken dogs would be a good example. Instead, they were a distraction. My poodle, now almost 7 years of age, still chases dragonflies and butterflies. She is so easily distracted. Still, it's been many years since her last accident.
Take your pup out alone on a leash and walk her until she goes. Praise her and tell her what a "good dog" she is. Keep things really simple and don't be discouraged when she seems to forget. Clean up her messes without making it a big deal. There might be some accidents occasionally, even after she does housebreak, but she will eventually understand what you are asking of her, and remember that she really, really WANTS to please you!
You will someday realize that it's been a LONG time since her last accident. Patience and perseverance.

Mary

I also have a puppy mill Yorkie. I has her for 8 mo and she is still not house trained. She sometimes pees outside inside on the pea pad nothing consistent. I'm trying the commands and she just doesn't seem to catch on. I even walk her with my other dogs that pee on command but still no getting 100 %. Anymore tis?

Mo

Wow... all great ideas and I've somewhat incorporated bunch of them with my 3 dogs (2 rescues), but wish I could get MY body to cooperate like that! Wouldn't it be nice if *before* the meeting you could just give yourself a command and then give a presentation in comfort! ;-)

Good job all.

Dee

Great reminder about poop then walk. Am bringing a rescue home this weekend and I had all but forgotten that.

Dee

Great reminder about poop then walk. Am bringing a rescue home this weekend and I had all but forgotten that.

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