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House Training

Housetraining fills many hearts with dread and foreboding. So many ideas, so many techniques, it’s amazing that as many dogs end up housetrained as there are!

First off, let’s just say that there are some good ways to train your dog to be housetrained that don’t involve:

  • You losing your temper
  • Your Dog having a bad experience
  • Newspapers (except maybe as a place to potty)
  • Physical Correction
  • Accidents
  • Noses

With that out of the way, let’s get in the dog’s mind about housetraining. Dogs, by nature, do not choose to eliminate where they sleep and eat. This seems to arise out of the desire to keep their scent away from animals, like prey and predators, since stealth is an important part of the hunting done by Canids. So, even your dog has a natural inclination to stay clean and not to potty in the spot where they sleep or eat. Puppies, like small children, generally do not have the urinary or bowel control that allows them much warning, as such, it falls to us to make sure they get out and go frequently before they feel urgency. So, now that we know this, it is simply a matter of communicating to the dog that the entire house is the-place-where-we-eat-and-sleep.

Posters and picket lines have proven ineffective in these methods, so we suggest a crate. No, a crate is not absolutely necessary. Some homes are militantly anti-crate, and if you are among them, that’s fine, it just means you will have to be the shadow of your dog essentially 24/7 in the effort to prevent accidents (see, accidents cause more accidents that result in habits… which means your dog isn’t housetrained). It can be a challenge.

If you aren’t familiar with introducing and using a crate, you will definitely want to review the section on crate training. If you are, off we go then!

Let’s start by reiterating that preventing accidents will be the secret behind helping your dog be housetrained quickly. PREVENTING ACCIDENTS. And the sooner your dog is housetrained, the sooner they get house privileges. That thing that we all dream of when we dream of bringing our bundle of joy home. Reading a book with them next to us, having them trot up while we are watching TV, watching them play or wondering what they are up to or groaning as they bring us the leash… they can’t do any of these things until they have house privileges and those need to be earned or you will be finding “love droppings” in many magic and secret places all over your home for eternity.

So, as honestly as you can, keep your dog, otherwise known as beloved, crated except when you can focus on them. This means they are not out while you are fixing dinner or while you are getting ready for work or reading the paper with your coffee. Yes, for a week or two (this is all it would really take even for puppies to get the hang of it) you may want to get up early if you want to spend time with your dog in the house before you leave for work or you may have to rearrange the schedule to have play sessions at other times of the day (but you considered all this prior to getting your dog right?).

Now, when you get your dog out of the crate, straight outside (or to the potty spot) we go! For all but the little puppies, a dog will be able to go every couple hours. For little puppies it can be even more often. If your dog doesn’t reward your efforts with some evacuation, then back in the crate they go. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be for more than 5 minutes or so, but then, we go back outside. This is how we help emphasize that going outside is very very good. Also by only allowing them loose in the house once your dog has gone, means there is little need or likelihood, that they will eliminate in the house. Creating habits can be a good thing!

But your dog is such a good dog, that they went right away! And you jumped and sang and danced and your dog jumped and sang and danced with you rejoicing and praising over what a good dog, your dog is! Seriously, praise is VERY important in helping your dog understand that this is desirable behavior (so no sending your dog outside into the fenced yard without supervision at this stage!) Now we can go back into the house for a wonderful play session. After 20 minutes or so, did your dog go get a drink of water? Well, let’s go back outside! Drinking and eating both stimulate the need to go (drinking more quickly than eating) so as more prevention, we will give the dog more opportunity. As a help, more reasons and cues that your dog needs to go a listed below.

Cues that Your Dog NEEDS TO GO

  • Sniffing the Floor
  • Whining
  • Going to the Door (or in the direction of where your dog potties)
  • Just had something to eat
  • Just had something to drink
  • Gas
  • Your Dog may have individual cues, watch to see if you can recognize them

Well, dogs aren’t machines, and sometimes they don’t get the idea right away or sometimes we miss the cues or forget the schedule… and end up with “a mess”. We were hoping for 100% compliance, but this isn’t always the case. First, if at all possible, get your dog outside to let them finish whatever they need to do. Then back into the crate, which also helps to get them out of the way while you do clean up.

Lots of suggestions exist out there for dealing with messes, especially as clean up isn’t always a simple endeavor on surfaces like carpet. If it is in an out of the way place and its urine (and still wet). Try scooping some cornstarch on it. Do NOT blot it first (that just forces the fluid down into your pad and floor.. ugh). The cornstarch will absorb the liquid and let the water evaporate over a day or so then you can just vacuum it up all dry and clean! Obviously this is why it needs to be an out of the way place to work. Vinegar/water can also work to help with discoloration and odor, which is critical since the odor can attract your dog back there if they ever need to go while in the house in the future.

That is the system, it’s that simple. If you have an accident, and can’t find where you did anything “wrong” just try to up the supervision a bit.