House Training


by Georgia Alyce O’Boyle

WHY HOUSE-TRAIN?  Puppies are not born knowing that they shouldn’t relieve themselves on your champagne-colored carpeting.  When nature calls, most will just relieve themselves wherever they happen to be.  If you do not want your dog to use your home as his toilet, it becomes your job to teach him just where you DO want him to potty.  House-training is very important, not only for the obvious reason, but also because it is one of your first opportunities to initiate communication, and establish yourself as “ALPHA”, in your relationship with your dog.

NUTRITION:  First of all, select a high-quality, DRY dog food – and stick with it!  There is no need to add goodies or supplements to a well-balanced dog food (except at your Veterinarian’s direction).  Goodies and supplements often upset Fido’s digestive system and make house-training more difficult.  Next, set your dog up on a twice-daily feeding schedule.  Do not free-feed!  Leave your dog alone in a quiet, enclosed area (preferably a crate) with his food for about 15 minutes.  Then, return and pick up whatever he has not eaten in that time period.  Immediately take the dog outside to relieve himself.  Make sure that Fido has access to water at mealtimes, and at regular intervals throughout the day.  Restrict his water intake at night.

CRATING/CONFINEMENT:  When you are busy, sleeping, or away from home, your puppy MUST be confined to a small area, preferably a crate. Most dogs will not soil where they eat and sleep. But, if Baby Fido has the run of a large area of the house; he will sleep and eat at one end and soil in the other end.  If the dog should have an accident in his crate, clean it up as soon as possible to encourage him to keep his area clean.  Always take him outside to eliminate immediately after removing him from his crate.  If you are at home, and would like to keep the dog with you during your normal activities, you can attach a leash to the puppy’s buckle-style collar, and tie the other end of the leash to you (via a belt-loop).  If you are seated, you may simply sit on your end of the leash.  Now, not only can you have your dog with you for bonding and socialization, but you are also in a position to observe any signs that Fido needs to relieve himself.

SCHEDULE: Regular trips with your dog outside to the area where you do want him to relieve himself.  Fido should always be taken outside immediately after eating, waking, playing, crating/confinement, or anytime he seems restless or begins sniffing the floor.  Young puppies need to go outside frequently.  But as your dog gets older and gains better control, it is important that YOU dictate a liberal schedule for him, discouraging him from making constant, unnecessary demands to go outside.

ELIMINATE ON COMMAND:  Yes, you can teach your puppy to relieve himself when, and where, YOU want.  First, take him to the site that you want him to use, at a time when you know that he needs to relieve himself (after crating is a good time).  Then as you notice him sniffing or squatting, give your command.  I use “GO POTTY!”  (You could say “PEE NOW or FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEES!”)

As soon as he starts to urinate or defecate, praise in a quiet voice.  As soon as he is done, you may reward him with a treat or toy.  Repeat this exercise every time Fido needs to relieve himself.  He’ll soon get the idea.

HOUSE-SOILING:  “Accidents” should be non-existent (or at least, infrequent) because we are preventing them from happening.  However, if you do accidentally allow Fido to urinate or defecate in the house, you should remove the dog from that area as soon as possible, and then clean up his mess using an odor-neutralizing product.  Do not correct the dog!  Just try harder to not let this happen again.

NOTE:  If your dog’s stool is loose, check with your Veterinarian.  You may be over-feeding, or your dog may have intestinal parasites or another physical problem that is making house-training difficult.

SUBMISSIVE URINATION:  This is NOT a house-training problem, but is often misunderstood as house-soiling.  It is actually an involuntary behavior, often brought on by too much physical praise or discipline, or by overly dramatic hellos.  Submissive urination should never be corrected – it should be prevented.  When coming home to the submissive urinater, you should greet verbally (not physically) in a quiet voice.  Look OVER the dog’s head, rather than making eye contact.  Do not approach the dog!  Keep walking and allow Fido to approach you.  Take heart, most submissive urination stops as the puppy matures, and gains confidence and better bladder control.

REVIEW:  Remember that consistency is very important.  Try to keep your dog on as regular a schedule as possible.  Prevention is the key to house-training.  Too many “accidents” in the house may set up a habit that is more difficult to break.  But, it is NEVER too late to house-train your dog.  When house-training is approached properly, it is a very simple task that will lay the groundwork for you to teach Fido a multitude of new things.


Copyright © 1986 & 2012 ~ Georgia Alyce O’Boyle, HAVENLEA DOG TRAINING CENTRE

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