Housebreaking is not difficult but it does require time and a commitment from you to be vigilant and consistent in teaching your puppy or dog not to eliminate in the house. While most dogs will not soil their bed or living quarters, it is important to remember that this area is only small portion of your home. To a dog, your kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. is not automatically part of its bed/living quarters. Dogs must be taught that it is not acceptable to you if they eliminate inside.
If you are adopting an older puppy or dog, keep in mind that while the dog may have been housebroken already, it is not uncommon for a dog to have a few mistakes in its new home. Following the guidelines set forth below will make the transition much smoother and faster for both you and your new companion.
There are two methods of housebreaking which work well when you are at home with your dog or puppy. These methods can both be used depending upon your schedule.
The first method is crating your dog or puppy when you cannot provide direct supervision. Crating a dog is ideal at night when you are asleep.
The second method is tethering the puppy or dog. You can use a six foot leash to attach the dog to either yourself or to a piece of furniture in the same room where you are working or watching TV.
With either method the following steps will make housebreaking easier.
Set Up a Schedule:
1. Put the dog on a feeding schedule. Food should be offered two or three times a day depending upon the age of the dog and should not be left available at all times. If the puppy or dog has not eaten the food in twenty minutes, pick up the dish and do not re-offer until the next scheduled eating time.
2. Take your dog or puppy outside (on a leash) as soon as you get up in the morning. Take the dog to a preselected spot where you want the dog to eliminate. Praise your dog when it has performed and take it back into the house for breakfast. If your dog doesn’t go after ten minutes, go back into the house with the dog. Keep the dog on a leash while feeding it breakfast to prevent it from going to another spot in your house and eliminating there.
3. After feeding your dog, take a few minutes to play and then take your dog back outside, on a leash, to the same area as before.
4. If you are using a crate to housebreak, when you come back into the house, the dog should go into its crate, along with a toy or chew. If you are tethering the dog, the dog should remain tethered, either to you or in the same room, so that you can watch for signs that the dog needs to go back out again.
5. Dogs and puppies should be taken out immediately when they wake up from either a nap or first thing in the morning. They should also be taken out immediately after they eat and after a long play session.
6. In addition, every two hours (set a timer if necessary), give your dog or puppy the chance to go outside again. Initially, these trips outside are solely for the purpose of elimination. Therefore, it is important to keep the dog on a leash and take it directly to the spot where you want the dog to eliminate.
7. Have a short play session with the dog or puppy when you bring it inside again before crating or tethering.
When You Are Gone:
Until your dog is reliably housebroken (which means it never goes in the house), the dog should not have run of the house. It is your responsibility to make sure the dog doesn’t have the opportunity to eliminate in the house. Therefore, when you are not home to supervise, the dog needs to be confined. If you are using a crate, the dog can be crated when you are not home. (Remember not to leave the dog crated for long periods of time.)
If you are not using a crate, you will need to confine the dog to a small area – a tiled bathroom or laundry room is ideal. While you are housebreaking, do not allow unlimited access to food or water. You can put newspapers down initially, but as the puppy or dog begins to understand that elimination is done outside, the area with newspapers should become smaller and smaller.
As soon as you get home, you should immediately leash your dog or puppy and take it outside to eliminate.
1. If you just open the door and let your dog or puppy out you have no way of knowing whether it “did its business” while it was outside and you are losing a golden opportunity to praise it for eliminating outside.
2. Housebreaking is time consuming but if you are consistent about following a schedule, your dog or puppy should understand the routine within a few days.
3. While your puppy may understand that it needs to “go” outside, it may not be old enough to physically control its urges to eliminate. Make sure your pup has plenty of opportunity to do the right thing outside.
4. Finally, accidents do happen. If you miss the signs that your dog needs to go outside, DO NOT punish it. Hitting your dog or pup will only reinforce that it shouldn’t eliminate in front of you – not that going inside is bad. All you have taught here is that the dog should sneak off to another room to do its business.
5. Purchase an odor neutralizer and use it when cleaning up inside. Dogs have very sensitive noses and can smell areas where they (or other animals) have previously eliminated even if you can’t.