“All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them.”
~William F. Halsey
Dogs have no concept of a right or wrong place to use the bathroom. They feel the urge, they do it, then move away from it. It’s that simple. Teaching your dog to go outside takes diligence, consistency, the crate, the leash, and the schedule.
Dogs normally relieve themselves as soon as they wake up and 20 – 30 minutes after eating. A regular feeding schedule will give you a reliable bathroom schedule. Food left down and eaten at will, can cause housebreaking to take much longer.
For a puppy you cannot expect reliable house manners before the pup can sleep overnight without soiling their crate. Usually about 10 -11 weeks old. At this point housebreaking, if done properly, will take 4 – 6 weeks for total reliability.
Keep in mind you should not ask a puppy under 6 months old to “hold it” more than a couple of hours, after 6 months they should be more reliable.
Make sure the crate you are using for housebreaking is the right size, and no bedding until after housebreaking is complete.
If your dog’s crate is too spacious, they will use one corner as a bathroom and lay in another, or soil the bedding and push it away burying the mess.
When loose in the house, during housebreaking, watch your dog for signs of sniffing circling or searching, these are indications that your dog needs a bathroom break. Another indicator is if your dog suddenly decides to leave the room.
If you cannot watch your dog put them in their crate until you are no longer distracted. This will prevent accidents while you are not looking.
If there is an accident do not punish or scold, punishment will not make your dog learn faster, it will actually slow down the process.
Remember controlling an urge does not come naturally to your dog but they can learn it. If they associate the punishment with the urge, they will learn to control it until they can leave your sight but, it will not help them learn where to go.
If they associate the punishment with the action of eliminating they may begin to eat their waste to avoid punishment. This always leads to vet bills due to bacteria infections.
When there is an accident, simply clean up the mess and pay closer attention. If you are paying attention and your dog starts to go, grab the leash and take them to their bathroom spot.
The same bathroom spot every time makes housebreaking quicker. Also use the same door out of the house and the same word or phrase each time you take your dog out. “Potty” or “Go Potty”
Do not take your dog for a walk to find the right spot, housebreaking goes much faster if you separate going to the bathroom from going out for fun.
Once your dog has eliminated, in the bathroom area, praise, praise, praise. Go immediately back into the house. This will teach your dog to go out, eliminate, and come right back in. You will be glad they have learned this on cold or wet days!
If you take your dog for a bathroom break and they do not eliminate in the time you have allotted, walk them quietly back into the house and put them into their crate. Try again in a few minutes.
Your dog will quickly catch on to the happy walk back into the house after a successful bathroom break as opposed to the quiet , no attention walk when they did not eliminate.
Housebreaking an older dog is done in exactly the same manner as housebreaking a puppy. The process will usually go faster with older dogs. Older dogs have better attention spans and you do not have to wait for them to be old enough to control their bodily functions.
Keep in mind that even a reliably housebroken dog may soil improperly in a new environment. If you move to a new home or visit a friend make sure to show your dog where their bathroom is.