Tips on Housetraining

IMG_0471WE’ve all been there. Just when you think your new puppy or rescue dog is getting the hang of things, you find a nice present left for you on the carpet. As frustrating as house training can be, and as simple as it may seem to you, the idea of going outside doesn’t necessarily come naturally to our pups. Just like with all positive reinforcement, your dog must learn that going outside is more rewarding than inside. This becomes even more tricky when you take into account how rewarding it is to relieve yourself when you’ve really gotta go! That’s why a strict schedule is such an important part of training.

First and foremost, you need to figure out how long your dog can/should go in between potty breaks. A general rule of thumb is up to 1 hour for every month old your puppy is and no more than 8 hours for an adult dog. Some dogs differ in this timeline based on experience, size, how often you feed the dog, and the dog itself. When scheduling meals, make sure that your dog eats no later than 4 hours before bed and that water is no longer available 2 hours before bed. This will help your nighttime routine. Once you’ve established how long your dog can comfortably hold it, make a schedule to take him/her out as often as needed. Make sure to supervise your dog on all trips outside and give him/her a reward for going potty EVERY TIME. Once you head back inside, your dog can have some free time if they succeeded at eliminating outside. This free time to play and roam around can last about half the time in between having gone and your next trip outside. For example, If you are taking your puppy out every 2 hours, they get the first hour as free time. After free time is over, your dog needs to be tethered to you on a leash or in a crate or penned off area until it’s time to go outside again. If your dog didn’t go after 15 minutes the first time, he/she should be leashed, crated or penned for another hour before you go outside and try again. An example of a one day schedule for a 5 month old puppy might look like this:

7 am – Wake up and go outside immediately

7:15 – Free time to play (if dog went potty, otherwise confined and taken outside in an hour)

8 – Breakfast

9 – Leashed to chair while working on computer

11 – Outside

11:15 – Free time to play (if dog went potty, otherwise confined and taken outside in an hour)

1:30 – crate while running errands

3:30 – Outside

3:45 – Free time to play (if dog went potty, otherwise confined and taken outside in an hour)

6 –  Dinner

7 – Long Walk

8 – Free time to play

10 – Supervised in room while watching TV

11 – Outside

11:15 – Put in crate to sleep

*Take dog outside in the night if you hear any whining in crate, otherwise start schedule over the next day

One important factor that people often get use wrongly is punishment. Punishing a dog for going inside is not only unnecessary for training, but often detrimental to the dog’s progress. First off, your dog most likely will not make the correlation between the act of eliminating and you yelling or worse, physically punishing him. Instead he/she will most likely respond to your body language or associate what is on the floor with your anger without actually realizing what he/she did to cause it. Another unfortunate effect of such punishment is that your dog may learn that they shouldn’t go in front of you or where you can see it (Instead of realizing that location is the important factor). This makes training harder as your dog will be likely to go outside on the leash or in your presence and will instead run off and hide when he/she needs to go. Most importantly, any yelling or physical punishment will harm your relationship with your dog. The last thing you want is for your dog to develop fear or anxiety towards you. Instead, use management of the environment to avoid accidents and positive reinforcement to promote going outside! With a strict schedule and lots of encouragement (for yourself and your dog), your dog will be house trained in no time!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *