House Training Guide

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House Training Tips for Puppies and Dogs

Dogs are eager to please their people. They want to pee in the right place and will be trained quickly if you set them up for success.

  1. Take them out regularly, especially after sleeping, playing, or eating and drinking. Young puppies should be taken out regularly within 30 minutes of these activities. Always take them outside before retiring to bed and first thing in the morning. As the puppy and his/her bladder grow, you can go longer between elimination periods. Take the puppy to a single designated elimination area and give a verbal cue, use the same one every time. For example, “go to the bathroom,” or “make a tinkie”, or even, “hurry up” but try to use the same verbal cue every time and teach it to all the members of the household. Once elimination is completed, lavish praise and give the dog a treat- just a couple pieces of regular dog food works, those Milk Bones are highly caloric. Give the treat immediately, if you wait until you get inside you are too late. Some shelters send dogs home with pet food samples- switching foods all the time is tough on little digestive systems; use these samples as going potty rewards. After the first week do not give treats every time but intermittently. This way you teach your dog the right place to go to the bathroom and it is associated with a reward.
  2. Take them out when you see elimination signs. Pre-elimination signs include squatting, circling, sneaking off, and heading towards the door. If you see your dog doing one of these things, take them out immediately. You will soon learn your dog’s pre-elimination signs. If you see your puppy going to the bathroom indoors tell them, “no!” and take them immediately outside.
  3. Confine your puppy if he/she cannot be supervised. Dogs simply do not want to go to the bathroom in their own crates – they should be happy and cozy in there. Then they can graduate to being left in a room, or eventually the whole house. Make sure your dog has had the chance to go to the bathroom before being confined.

Trouble shooting house training:

Beware: Puppies that are not taken out regularly for elimination but are consistently being punished for going indoors can fear going to the bathroom in front of their people.  They do not associate punishment with indoor elimination, they associate it with elimination. If you find a puddle of urine or fecal matter in an inappropriate place in your home there is no point in disciplining your dog. The dog will only understand if you catch her in the act. If the dog has eliminated in the house it is likely your fault for not supervising or confining properly. By regularly taking your dog to the same door every time and providing, “potty rewards,” your dog should soon start to head to that door when they have to go. Praise your dog when it heads to the doorway. Eventually through positive reinforcement, your dog should begin taking you to the door. Generally wait until the dog has been error free for about a month before you begin to decrease her confinement. Gradually increase the time your dog can roam around the house unsupervised.