House Training Made Easy

Watch, Watch, Watch!

The key to successful house training is supervision. Watch your dog constantly. Your first duty is to identify what your dog does right before it eliminates. Does your dog sniff? circle? hold his ears in a certain position? Some dogs provide signals that are easy to spot, while others are more difficult. Watch carefully.

Praise, Praise, Praise!

When you see the signs of an impending puddle, react! Quickly -before he has the chance to squat- ask him in an excited voice, "Do you have to go OUTSIDE?" Lead the way, continuing to praise all the way. Once outside, stay with him until you witness the desired results and praise him as he goes. "Good, go potty outside!" Make him feel that he is the most special dog in the whole world.

Confine When You Can't Watch

By confining him to a small place, like an airline kennel, you will teach him to wait to be let out. He will be more reluctant to soil his crate, because if he does he will be forced to sit and look at it and smell it until you return. When you do let him out, take him directly to his assigned toilet area and praise for quick results. (See Crate Training.) Tethering is another option to keep your little one from pitter-pattering off where you can't see them.

Keep A Regular Schedule

Take him out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and many times in between. Feed and exercise on a regular schedule. Remember, what goes in regularly, will come out regularly. How soon after he eats does he need to go out? Keep track. Free-choice feeding may hamper your house training efforts - what trickles in will trickle out unpredictably! Your dog will probably need to go out soon after eating, after napping, and after exercising. If you can anticipate when he needs to go and hustle him to the appropriate spot at the first sign, you'll avoid accidents.

Don't Just Put Him Out, Stay With Him

If you don't stay, you'll miss the chance to praise and you'll also miss the chance to name the behavior. "Outside" is where he needs to go, "Go potty", "Find a tree", or, "Do your business" (call it what you like) is what he needs to do when he gets there. If you stay with him, you'll also know for a fact that both duties were accomplished before he comes back in. (You'll also be glad that your dog is comfortable eliminating in your presence when you're standing in the rain at that rest stop while vacationing with your pet!)

He Comes Right Back In and Makes A Mess

If you leave him out alone, you won't know if he completed his assigned tasks or was distracted by a butterfly. Many young puppies are distraught about being separated from their owners. They may spend the entire time while outside just sitting on the porch. It's unlikely that your pup will want to ask to go outside if it is a negative experience to be separated from the security of its human family. "He was out for two hours and came in immediately made a mess." He may have spent most of the past two hours napping, awoke to the sound of the door and came running. Now he's finally back inside - is he apt to want to ask to be left out again?

No Punishment

If he has an accident, swat yourself with the rolled up newspaper, not the dog. It was your fault for not watching him closely enough! Rubbing his nose in it (yuck!), scolding or hitting will only teach him to avoid you when he feels the need, rather than come find you. Correcting before the dog learns how to ask only teaches the dog to sneak off down the hall where you won't see him.

Teach Him How To Ask

If you have been a good cheerleader, your dog has probably made the association between the feeling of a full bladder and your excitement at the prospect of going outside. You may notice that he circles and then looks to you like, "Well? I'm feeling it - are you going to get excited?" Now is the time to start playing "stupid". "What? What do you want? Show me!" The more stupid you appear, the more explicit he will be when trying to communicate his needs. Before you know it, he will be asking.

Accidents Happen

Upsets in schedule, changes in food, or illness may contribute to temporary lapses in housetraining. See your veterinarian if it persists. Outside stresses, changes in weather, a new pet or baby in the family, may also upset your dog's toilet habits. Punishing long after the fact will only add to his stress. Back up, give him more structure; confine & supervise. Help him be good!

Stinky carpet? Try the following:

  • Nature's Miracle
  • Anti-Icky Poo
  • Urine-Off
  • Get Serious

Remember, if the pad and floor underneath are saturated, it doesn't matter how clean you get the rug, the smell is still there. You will have to tear out the carpet and scrub the floor to eliminate serious urine damage.

Live in an apartment and would like to set up a deck or patio potty area?
Check out the Pup-Head Portable Dog Potty with K-9 Grass!

This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People