House Training Your Puppy or Adult Dog

A Simple yet Comprehensive Guide for Ensuring House Training Success for both Average Families and Avid Rescuers.

House training, like all other behavior, is a learned behavior. Without sufficient time and attention spent on this task, some dogs risk losing their home.

THE 3 R’S OF POTTY TRAINING

  1. Regular schedule and potty breaks
  2. Reward proper elimination
  3. Routine supervision

REGULAR SCHEDULE AND POTTY BREAKS
Identify your puppy or dog’s elimination habits to help you better estimate when your dog needs to go.  For on-going issues start by keeping a chart tracking your dog’s outdoor and indoor elimination.  In general dogs will eliminate first thing in the morning and may have a 10-20 minute delay between peeing and pooping.  Some dogs will urinate multiple times if given the opportunity.  Feeding your dog stimulates intestinal contractions so be sure to let them out to eliminate within 15-30 minutes after a meal.

A dog left unattended for multiple hours that has not eliminated in your absence will likely feel the urge upon your return.  Puppies do well with potty breaks every 15-30 minutes when out in the open and young puppies may have accidents in their kennel if left for more than an hour or two.  If a pup must be left for an extended period is best confined to an area with a ‘potty station’ that is separate from their sleeping space.  Puppies may also require excursions during the midnight hours.

Whether your dog alerts you to his needs or not, an excursion after the following activities will improve your odds at potty training success:

  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Playing
  • Chewing on a toy
  • Before bedtime
  • Sleeping

To help your dog sleep through the night, remove food and water about an hour before bed and allow at least two potty breaks after last consumption.

ROUTINE SUPERVISION

Unsupervised dogs have opportunities to have accidents.  To house train your dog more efficiently block transition spaces to limit your puppy or dog to a manageable portion of the house.  Exercise pens can be stretched across larger openings.  Leashed dogs can be tethered to your body or a stable anchor or simple drag the leash.  Keep the dog in sight so that any sniffing, circling, or inattentive behavior can be addressed with a quick excursion outside.  If you observe the rear end tucking or lowering this is a sure sign that your dog is going to eliminate.  Usher them outside quickly then praise profusely when they conduct their business outdoors.

Confine unsupervised puppies and dogs to a space sized appropriately to their needs that is small enough to discourage elimination naturally.   If you are undertaking an activity that requires you to go out of sight of your dog or even simply turn your back it is best to confine them with a tasty stuffed Kong so they’ll neither suffer your absence nor have an accident.

A raised tail and a tucked rear end are a good sign!

REWARD PROPER ELIMINATION
Choose a desirable potty spot and leash walk your puppy or dog for potty breaks.  Restrict any drifting to a space no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet.  Some puppies are easily distracted so choose a boring spot with visual barriers.  Turn away from your puppy and encourage them to keep moving and sniffing without drawing too much attention to yourself.  Praise gently as they start eliminating then reward your dog with a treat WHILE you are still outdoors.  Insist they pay their deposit before a walk or playtime so you may use real life reinforcers instead of food all the time.  Your dog will quickly learn that going potty quickly outside is great and a fast way to earn a paycheck.

In order to reinforce good behavior you must be present in the moment.  Luckily, potty breaks can generally be kept under 3 minute.  If the pup fails to eliminate at the proposed time simply return indoors promptly and give the dog some bone broth or a small snack to get things moving.  Set a timer for 10-20 minutes to remind you to visit the outdoors.  Keep a jacket and treats by the door to maximize your time and effort.

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN
If you find an accident after the fact, roll up a newspaper and whack yourself over the head. Then use an enzyme based cleaning solution designed specifically for eliminating animal odors.

There are to reasons that dogs relieves themselves in the house:

  1. The dog desires to eliminate and is not properly house trained.
  2. A physical condition or illness prevents the dog from waiting until someone can let him out.

A dog previously house trained that suddenly begins eliminating indoors may have a physical disorder.  Appropriate treatment may resolve the issue.  Routine accidents imply that the dog never fully house trained.  Accidents caught early can be corrected with prompt invention and non-threatening direction to the outdoors.  Then reward him for finishing outside!

THE RIGHTEOUS DOG
Some owners feel that their dog eliminates indoors out of spite. To date no scientific evidence supports this conclusion. Punishing a dog for eliminating in the house may teach him to avoid going in front of you.  This means he’ll look for opportunities to go out of sight which could mean in another room or in your shoes in the closet.  Punishment can also compel some dogs to eat their feces as a means to avoid your displeasure.  Appeasing behavior from your dog is not an acknowledgement of guilt, it’s an attempt to diffuse your obvious displeasure at finding animal waste in your home.

Still having trouble house training your puppy or adult dog?  Bring them to the Canine Solutions DogSchool or DaySchool and we’ll train them for you!

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