Having a dog in the house is one of the purest joys a person can have. However, your pup will also need you to teach them the rules and ways of the household. This includes where and when they can eliminate. It is obviously in your best interest to start house training as quickly as possible. You’ll get your pup synced up with your routine and avoid any accidents becoming a long-term issue.
At first, house training will be about laying down the ground rules. Then, you should be keeping a close eye on your dog to make sure they are being followed. It might take a few weeks or even longer for you to get the message across. However, dogs enjoy having a routine to stick to, as they know where they stand and how to behave to get the best reaction (and treats).
Keep Your Schedule
The first thing you need to do is create a schedule to stick to when you bring your pup home. This can be done before even getting a dog, if possible. If you already have a routine regarding mealtimes, sleeping patterns, and work, then it will be easier for your dog to pick up on your activities and get used to living in your home much faster.
- Your morning should begin with letting your pup out to do their business. Depending on the age of the dog, they can go for at least five to seven hours without the need for a trip outside to eliminate. As soon as they wake up, take them outside.
- Pick a particular spot that your dog can go and eliminate outside. Take them out on their leash, to begin with, lead them to that spot each time, and wait for them to go. Once they have relieved themselves make sure to give them a treat and praise them.
- Your dog’s mealtimes should coincide with your own. Fill their bowl in the morning while you make your coffee or breakfast. Take it away once you are both finished eating. Do the same at dinner, so that your dog’s digestive system has its own clock, and they will know when they gotta go.
- Puppies, in particular, have smaller bladders and less of an instinct to tell you when they need to go. Because of this, you’ll want to take younger dogs out at least every hour. The more you pay attention to what time of the day they actually go, the sooner you’ll be able to space out the trips out on the leash more. Your pup will start to understand that going out on the leash is time for eliminating.
Spot The Signs
You should notice when your dog needs to be let outside. There are plenty of signs to keep an eye out for. This is why it is important to have them within your eye line as much as you can. All dogs will exhibit at least one of these traits when they are bursting, so a little attention can save you a lot of aggro if you just let them get on with it out of your sight.
- After a nap, chances are your pup will need to eliminate. This is just the same as they would when waking up from a good night’s sleep. If they’ve been snoozing in their crate through the day (as all dogs are want to do!), then once they’re awake they will more than likely need to go outside. Take them out once you’ve given them some pats and they’ve woken up a little. Going back to the first stage of this training, this lets your pup know that once they’re up from their nap, it’s time to go outside and eliminate.
- Dogs will begin sniffing around their surroundings when they are antsy and need somewhere to eliminate. It’s up to you to notice the difference between investigative sniffing – when they pick up a scent or are just exploring a little – and the need to find a good spot to eliminate. Usually, they will be moving back and forth around the perimeter of the room looking for a place to mark.
- When your dog starts to get agitated: whining, barking, sniffing around, it is a sign that they need something. That something could be some mental stimulation – playtime or just some attention – or it could be that they are asking to be let outside to do their business. The easiest method I have for telling the difference is to engage my dog and see what he does. If he jumps up to me or goes and fetches a toy, he obviously is feeling bored and wants to play. But if he runs away from me – not necessarily towards the door – then he is trying to lead me outside.
- Going to the door is the sign that is most obvious and easy to spot. If your dog has to eliminate, and you’ve trained them well on the leash already, they will start to voluntarily head for the door and wait for you. They might not have learned to get your attention yet, however, so you need to pay attention when they leave the room. If they can’t get outside, they have to go somewhere!
Praise – Don’t Punish
The first mistake many dog owners make when they are trying to train their dog to do anything is to punish incorrect behavior. Whatever discipline you are trying to get across you have you do it with care and love. Dogs are more in tune with good behavior being rewarded than they are with being scolded following bad behavior. When talking about house training, you want to encourage them every time they go outside, and try to prevent accidents before they happen.
- Punishment for eliminating inside can be counterproductive. If your pup has already gone at a certain time before you realize, there is no point in telling them off. They won’t know what behavior has prompted the scolding. You should focus instead on lavishing them with praise when they do go outside. Consider treats!
- Shouting at your dog or rubbing their nose in their mess will only make them fearful to eliminate in front of you. This will cause issues if you are trying to get them to eliminate when you have them on the lead. They will think that doing so will result in more punishment. They will also be more likely to sneak away to do their business somewhere else in the house when you won’t be there to tell them off.
- Try to catch them in the act and take them outside to finish. Use a pleasant tone and whatever command you have assigned to get them to go outside. Your voice shouldn’t be aggressive. However, you also shouldn’t use the same tone you would when praising them as they are exhibiting the wrong behavior. Be stern. Lead them to their spot outdoors, and praise them if they finish their business there. Again, treats are a good option for good behavior.
Segueing off the points we’ve discussed so far, the next thing you want to keep in mind is that your pup will get up to all sorts of mischief if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. With house training, you have to stay focused on the task constantly. If you consistently slip up and let the dog wander off and eliminate wherever it chooses inside the house, you will find yourself with an uphill battle to reverse those behaviors.
- As I’ve alluded to, you should be letting your pup out first thing in the morning. However, some nights your dog will wake up ready to burst in the early hours. The best way to deal with this is to be focused and to the point. Get up, acknowledge them – but don’t engage in any playful activities. Lead them outside swiftly so they can eliminate before bringing them back to bed. Don’t switch on any lights if you can help it, and don’t deviate from a direct route to the door.
- Combine every part of your pup’s routine in with yours. It is easy to forget to take the food bowl away after mealtimes or leave their water out until bedtime. However, this will cut into your training and prolong the whole experience. Make their routine your routine immediately to cut down on confusion and accidents.
- Keep their walks roughly the same length. If they are a bigger dog and you are taking them on a couple of walks a day, walk the same route every single morning. Your pup will find plenty of spots to mark and eliminate and will return to these areas every day.
Combine With Crate Training
Crate training is a valuable tool in your arsenal that comes in handy when you are house training your pup. Contain your dog in their crate where they won’t want to eliminate if they are trained. This is ideal for the times where you can’t supervise them during the house training process and beyond.
- Make sure that your pup is comfortable and happy to be in their crate by training them with care. Again, crate training is not going to work by shouting and scolding. Your dog’s crate will eventually be a safe space for them. By containing them in that space you are leaving in a place small and familiar enough where they won’t want to make any mess.
- When you leave the house for any reason make sure you have taken your pup outside just before you go. This is so they can eliminate completely. Next, lead them to their crate promptly with no fuss. If you go to work every day at the same time, for example, this will factor into the dog’s routine, and they will get used to it quickly. If you have the time, take them for a short walk at least half an hour before you leave the house.
Thoroughly Clean Any Accidents
By now you know the approach should be kindness over cruelty. But, mistakes will more than likely still happen from time to time – from both you and your pup. Make sure that when they do, and you have a mess to deal with in the house, it is completely cleaned up as soon as you find it.
- Any soiled area of the wall or carpet has to be cleaned thoroughly. A dog’s nose is far more sensitive than ours! If that scent of waste remains in a certain area, they will return to that place again to relieve themselves. This is exactly the behavior we want to see from our pup outdoors on the leash, but inside they will get confused if one spot in the house smells like their litter tray to them. Have some quality odor control and carpet cleaner on hand before you bring your new friend home just to be on the safe side.
- Use your crate training and your own observations about your pup’s behavior to prevent any accidents before they happen. The more you can stop your dog from eliminating indoors, the less you will have to worry about repeat offenses. The clearer it will become to your dog that outside is the place to go when they need to go.
The last thing anyone needs when taking in a new dog is to have them soil the house. It is much easier to repaper a wall or buy new cushions than it is to get the smell of urine out of a carpet! House training is a team effort. You are trying to get your dog to understand how they will fit in with your schedule. Teach them when and where to eliminating, and that doing the right things will gain them a treat or two! This should be one of your very first priorities after you get your pup home.
Most of all, a degree of patience is required with house training. You should accept straight away that the human to dog language barrier is going to mean that mistakes will be made. A new environment is often either exciting or nerve-wracking to dogs. Both of these emotions may result in some initial messes. Clean everything up thoroughly when accidents do happen and make sure to praise and treat your dog every time they successfully eliminate outside. Start off slowly, taking them out constantly through the day, and build up the trust as you go. Before you know it, you and your dog will be a well-oiled machine of elimination efficiency!