House Breaking 101

July 23, 2015

Having a new puppy is an exciting thing. But teaching your new puppy to "go potty” outside, not inside can be a stressful task. Fortunately, we can learn how to house break a puppy, helping him or her to understand what behavior is acceptable, and what behavior is not. Here are some house breaking tips to get you started.

 

1. Routine is everything. Dogs are very routine-oriented. They actually want structure. It makes them feel more secure and safe. And, here’s the big one: it helps them learn faster, as well. Here are some suggestions on creating a routine for your puppy.

  • Create a food and water schedule for your puppy to establish an elimination pattern. Free feeding and watering makes house breaking more difficult by unpredictable elimination. At Crimson K9 Dog Training, we encourage our clients to feed in the morning and in the evening. Do not just let them eat whenever they wish. We encourage our clients to let their dog drink water a few times more each day than just when they eat.

  • Take your puppy out regularly. He should be let out to eliminate when waking up, after eating or drinking, and after playing.

  • At the beginning, be consistent with the location you want your dog to eliminate.

  • Tell your puppy to "go potty” or whatever command you want to use, WHILE he is eliminating. The "go potty” phrase linked with the action of going to the bathroom will help him understand to eliminate on command later.

  • Praise your puppy when he is done.

 

2. Supervision promotes consistency. While your puppy is learning, he needs to be supervised. Don’t allow him to roam the house at will while he is still learning. Here’s some more tips:

  • Watch your puppy at all times.

  • Look for your puppy’s elimination signs (sniffing, spinning, squatting, etc).

  • If you catch your puppy in the act, startle him and bring him outside immediately and tell him to "go potty”.

  • If you cannot watch your puppy closely, put him inside his crate. Most puppies will not eliminate in their crates, provided that the crate is not too large for the puppy.

  • If you find an accident, that means you weren’t watching your puppy close enough. Do NOT rub his nose in the mess as he will not link the ACT of the elimination to the actual mess. He will only see the mess after the fact and become afraid.

  • Be sure to clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaning solution.

 

3. Troubleshoot your mistakes. Notice I wrote "your mistakes”. Most puppy accidents are the fault of the owner, not the dog. Your puppy is still learning, so be patient, and realize that you can correct your own mistakes, thus correcting your dog’s mistakes. Here are some common mistakes and how to correct them:

  • Your puppy eliminates in his crate:Make sure that the crate is not too large for the puppy. It should be large enough so that he can turn around, but not so large that he has roaming space. Most dogs will not go potty where they sleep and live.

  • When catching the puppy "in the act” you take him outside and he will not eliminate.Put your puppy back in his crate for a few minutes, then take him outside again and give him the command "go potty”. You may need to do this several times until he eliminates. Do NOT let your puppy play before eliminating – use play time as a reward for proper elimination.

  • You find a mess on the carpet and your puppy looks as if he "did something wrong”At this point it’s too late to show him where he should eliminate, so clean up the mess with a proper enzymatic solution. If you have scolded your puppy in the past for eliminating in the inappropriate place, he knows that the elimination itself is wrong, but does not know that the ACT of the elimination is the source of your disapproval. Start over and keep an eye on your puppy for future "signs”.

  • Teaching your dog to go within a boundary.  If you want your puppy to go to the bathroom in a certain spot in your yard, you must keep him on a leash and take him to the appropriate area that you want him to eliminate. Give him the command "go potty” and wait until he complies. If he does not eliminate, put him in his crate for a few minutes and try again. Be consistent and wait until he complies every time before removing the leash.

If you follow these tips, you can have a happy, housebroken dog. Be consistent and be patient.

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