House training puppies and adult dogs is a matter of helping them develop a strong preference for eliminating in the appropriate place or places. Dogs naturally avoid eliminating in their living space. However, they need to be taught what their living space is and where the appropriate place to eliminate is. Dogs can be trained to eliminate outside on grass or rocks, on a potty pad, or in a litter box, although I prefer to teach them to eliminate outdoors unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Put this check list on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or other place where you will see it several times a day. Read down the check list every time you pass it to be sure you are house training correctly.
* Be Realistic! It will take time, house training is a process, much like teaching small children to use a potty, it doesn't happen over night. Accidents will happen, be prepared to clean them up with a good enzymatic cleaner to eliminate odors.
* Be Consistent! Take your dog/puppy to their elimination area frequently so that their bladder/bowels are never full, this makes it difficult for accidents to happen.
* Be Constant! Tether your puppy to you or to something solid within eye sight. Watch for signs he needs to eliminate, including trying to walk away, sniffing or scratching at the floor and circling. When you can't have the puppy under direct supervision, use a crate but limit the time in the crate to short periods of time, like when you are showering.
* Reinforce (with a food treat - praise just doesn't cut it) EVERY TIME the dog/puppy eliminates in an appropriate area, RIGHT AFTER THEY GO!
Check List - take your dog to their elimination area -
- First thing in the morning
- After eating
- After play
- After naps
- Last thing at night
- Any time she looks uncomfortable – Shows signs of sniffing, circling, scratching at the floor, arching her back, and/or squatting
- Go with your dog to be sure she eliminates in the appropriate place?
- Reward your dog with praise and treats for eliminating in the right place?
- If your dog doesn’t eliminate when you take her to her spot, bring her back in, set a timer for 5 minutes, and supervise her until you take her out again!
- Avoid rushing your dog when you take her out to eliminate.
- If your dog likes to be outside, once she's eliminated, give her time to play! If she isn’t allowed to do something fun after she eliminates, she may be reluctant to eliminate outside next time.
- Avoid punishing your dog if she has an accident. Punishment, even a few moments after an accident will not teach her not to eliminate inappropriately. Just clean up the mess and plan how to avoid accidents in the future.
- Try keeping track of of the W's, to better understand your dogs natural patterns. When did it happen, Where..., What (#1/#2), Who was with the dog, What happened just before - this piece of information can help you predict when it's going to happen in the future!
- If you continue to have difficulty house training your dog, talk to your veterinarian. Some medical conditions can interfere with house training. If it is not a medical problem, talk with an experienced dog trainer or behavior expert.