Relieving | House Training | Bedtime
At regular intervals, take your puppy or dog outside, on leash, to a pre-selected area that is quiet and easily sanitized so he can relieve himself. Allow up to 20 minutes, if necessary. Most dogs need to eliminate after a meal, when they wake up in the morning and after naps, after they finish playing, after drinking water and before bedtime. Other signs that your puppy or dog is about to eliminate include sniffing the floor, turning in circles, or squatting. Take him outside immediately whenever he gives you these signals. Stay with your dog and encourage him by using words such as “go potty” or “hurry” so he will associate these words with relieving himself. Always reward him when he has finished with a hug and “good dog,” then immediately take him back inside. Do not extend this period into an outdoor play session or your dog will become confused about the purpose of the visit outside.
During housebreaking, when the puppy or dog is out of the crate, he should not be allowed to have the run of the house unless you are there to supervise. If you are not able to watch him, put him back in his crate or confine him to one room that can be easily cleaned if he has an accident. If you find your puppy or dog has an accident in the house, do not rub his nose in it, yell at him, hit him or throw him outside by himself. If you don’t catch your puppy or dog in the act of doing it, then don’t punish for it. Delayed punishment will only confuse the dog. If you see your puppy or dog has left a mess on the floor, take him to the spot and say “No!” in a low-pitched, firm voice. Then clean up the mess with a paper towel and take the dog and the wet or soiled paper towel outside to the designated toilet area. Place the paper towel on the ground and let the dog sniff it. The scent will cause the dog to want to eliminate there next time. Immediately remove all traces of the accident with a disinfectant and/or odor remover. This will discourage the dog from going to the same spot and eliminating again.
Be sure to take the dog out to relieve himself prior to his bedtime. Ideally, the puppy or dog’s bed should be close to yours so that you can hear when the dog wakes up. Until the puppy is housebroken, you will have to get up and take him outside. The dog can sleep in either a crate or on a tie-down. Be sure the tie-down is not too long; this will prevent the dog from moving away from his sleeping spot, doing his business, and going back to sleep. If your dog whines or is otherwise disruptive during the night, he can be corrected by asking him to “settle.” If the dog persists in being restless, he may need to relieve himself. If so, immediately take him directly to the pre-designated spot and give him a chance to relieve himself. Remember to praise him if he has done it correctly. Quickly take him back to his bed. This should not turn into playtime with the dog. Remember the dog will also need to go outside soon after they awake in the morning.
The newest addition to your family may have already received some basic housebreaking before his arrival to your home, but if not, it is up to you to specify where and when he should do his business. Housebreaking or potty training is your first and most important training lesson, and should begin the moment you bring a puppy or dog home. In the beginning, especially with puppies 12 weeks or younger, they are not physiologically capable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements for any great length of time. Therefore, accidents will occur and should be expected. Probably one of best housebreaking tools is a crate. A dog's natural instinct is not to soil his den and by confining your puppy/dog to a crate, you teach him to be responsible for keeping his den clean. For information on crate training.
Proper diet and scheduling are the first steps in housebreaking. The key word is consistency. You must be consistent in both the food and time of feeding. A puppy/dog's stomach is sensitive to changes in food, so you should not vary his diet during the housebreaking period. By feeding your puppy/dog at the same time every day, you train his digestive system and he will need to eliminate after each meal.
After feeding, take him outside to the same spot each time. Your puppy/dog may also need to eliminate when he wakes up in the morning, after naps, after he finishes playing, after drinking water, and before bedtime. Stay with him and give him plenty of time. Encourage him by using a happy voice with words such as "go potty" or "hurry" so he will associated these words with relieving himself. Reward him when he is finished with petting and praise. Then take him inside immediately and have supervised playtime in the house before putting the dog back in the crate or in his confined area. Do not extend his time outside into a play session or your puppy/dog will become confused about the purpose of the visit outside. Use the same door each time you go outside. He will learn to associate this door with going outside to relieve himself, and he may scratch or sniff at the door to tell you he needs to go outside to eliminate. If the puppy/dog does not eliminate, even after staying outside for 15 minutes, return back inside and put him in a crate or supervised area. Wait 15 minutes and then go back outside and start from the beginning.
During housebreaking, your puppy/dog should not be allowed the run of the house. If you are not going to be using a crate, keep your dog on a short tie down or in a confined area or room that is easily cleaned - kitchen, laundry room outdoor run or kennel. You must supervise and catch him before he eliminates in the house so he will learn he must go outside. If he shows any signs that he is about to relieve himself (sniffing the floor, turning in circles, or squatting), startle him by saying "No!" and carry or move him outside immediately and then praise him for eliminating outside. If accidents are frequent, he needs to be watched more closely and taken out more often.
You should never punish your puppy/dog if he relieves himself in the house. Contrary to popular belief, you should not rub his nose in it, yell at him, hit him, or throw him outside in the yard. He won't understand why he is being punished and it will only confuse him. If he looks guilty, it is because he knows you are angry with him (by your body language and tone of voice), not because he eliminated in the house. If you did not catch him in the act, take him to the spot and say "No!" in a low-pitched, firm voice. Then clean up the mess with a paper towel. Take the puppy/dog and the soiled paper towel outside to the designated potty area. Place the towel on the ground and let him sniff it. The scent will cause him to want to eliminate there next time.
Clean accidents thoroughly by using an odor neutralizer. If the puppy/dog has an accident in the house and the odor is not eliminated, he will return to the same spot later. Most pet stores carry special pet odor neutralizers that are very effective in removing the odors.
Housebreaking is an all or nothing behavior. If your puppy/dog occasionally eliminates in the house, he is not housebroken. The key to housebreaking is very simple - prevent accidents and praise correct performance. Be patient and persistent in your housebreaking training. If you are having trouble housebreaking your puppy/dog, see your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing or adding to the problem.
Following is a simple relieving schedule that works for puppies or adopted older dogs that were never housebroken. The easiest way to train a dog for housebreaking is to get him onto a relieving schedule that he can keep and word upwards from. Remember your dog is an individual, and while some will achieve housebreaking quickly, others can take months to learn reliable behavior.
|TIME OF DAY||ACTIVITY|
|7:00 AM||Take puppy / dog out of his crate or confined area|
|12:00 PM||Take puppy / dog out of his crate or confined area|
|5:00 PM||Take puppy / dog out of his crate or confined area|
He can play inside while you etc., if he has been fully relieved. Or he can play outside (try to document whether he relieves while he is outside).
He should sleep through the night.