Housetraining is at the TOP of the priority list whenever you bring home a new dog! Use the below 5 tips to successfully housetrain a dog of any age:
1. Know the general triggers for pottying. A young dog that just woke up, drank water, ate or finished a fun play session needs to potty soon. A dog that is sniffing may also need to go out!
2. Teach your dog to potty immediately when going outside. With your dog on leash, stand in same spot for several minutes until your dog potties. If you’re impatient, listen to some good music with your headphones while you wait. When your dog potties, praise your dog and reward with a treat, walk or play session. Be sure that only “empty” dogs get rewarded with walks – otherwise you may be teaching your dog that the longer he “holds it,” the longer walk he gets!
But what if your dog doesn’t potty outside and you’re sure he needs to go? Take him back inside and crate him for 15 minutes. Crating will likely prevent your dog from having an accident indoors before you take him outside again. Dogs are less likely to have accidents in their crates because of den instinct – dogs generally do not like to potty where they sleep or eat. However, if the den area is too big, the dog may potty in one corner and then sleep in the other! After the 15 minutes, take him outside again.
3. Set a timer so you do not lose track of time. Start with every 15-30 minutes (when the dog is awake). As the dog becomes successful by being able to “hold it” between let-outs, increase the time between let-outs. For older dogs, you may be able to begin with longer increments between let-outs.
4. Interrupt accidents that do happen in the house with a non-angry, verbal “eh,eh.” Then immediately take your dog outside to finish his business. When he does, shower him with praise and a reward.
You’re too late to help the dog understand that he needs to potty outside if you do not discover the accident until after the dog is done doing his business. Showing the dog his potty spot or acting grumpy after the accident will NOT teach your dog to go outside next time. It might actually cause your dog to be afraid of you!
How can you avoid being too late? Monitor your dog by keeping him near you. Use baby gates to keep your dog in the same room with you or tether your dog to your waist – you can use the leash and attach it to a belt! When you cannot watch your dog, restrict his access to the house with a kennel, baby gate or exercise pen.
5. Regulate water. Take up the water bowl a couple of hours before bedtime each night so your dog can “get empty” for the last potty break of the day.
If you’re really struggling with housetraining, consider a trip to the vet to rule out a urinary tract infection or other medical issue that may be impeding your success.