House training is one of the first tasks that every new dog owner will undertake in the introduction of their puppy to its new home. There are three categories of house training types:
- Basic house training ; the establishment of an allowable toilet area for your pet.
- Submissive wetting ; urination occurring when greeting, disciplining or high excitement.
- Marking ; upon reaching puberty - some dogs (male or female) will mark their territory.
House Training: House training should only take approximately two weeks to establish as a routine provided;
- you must be consistent and committed
- you are prepared to train your pet from the moment you take possession. Have a leash, collar, a designated area and are prepared to maintain a schedule.
- Retraining a dog that has already established bad habits can take six weeks or more.
As soon as possible get your new puppy to the vet for a complete check-up. This will assure you that you have obtained a healthy pup and alert you to any medical complications that can make house training more difficult. Situations such as intestinal upset, intestinal parasites and urinary tract infections can make house training difficult to impossible.
The designated toilet area can be as general as outside of the house or as specific as a particular corner of the backyard. You must have a specific plan as to what the designated area is going to be. You can not teach the dog what is acceptable if you are uncertain.
Your attitude is one of the most important ingredients in house training your dog. Your puppy does not know what is wrong. If there is a mistake tell him "no" but do not discipline too severely. You only want him to know that you are displeased, you do not want the pup to feel that you are the source of pain. When the pup has done well, pat him, praise him, let the dog know that you are very pleased. The pup will want to do things that please you. House training can be a foundation for all future training. Affection and praise as a reward for proper response - "no" signaling displeasure and guidance to show the dog what you do want.
- Create a schedule that is practical for you to maintain. If you can not stick to your schedule - you can't expect the dog to adhere to it.
- Do not allow your dog to free feed until house training is well established. Be very careful of your dogs diet - avoid foods and/or snacks that can be upsetting to his digestive tract.
- Schedule your dog's bed time and waking-up time. Adhere to these times as closely as possible.
- Young pups will require frequent nap times, be sure that your schedule can accommodate the pup's naps. Remember that the pup will need to be taken outside after each nap.
- Emotional intensity - after intense emotional stimulation (badly scared, frightened, or a particularly rowdy play session) the pup may need to relieve himself.
- Within two to three days, most dogs will be able to "control themselves" for eight hours during the night. You must keep in mind that your daytime schedule will need to be somewhat flexible. By paying attention to your dog, you will learn his nap requirements. Your dog will learn "the routine" and you will both have a schedule that you can live with.
Supervise in the House
- By knowing where your dog is at all times, and what he is doing, you can avoid mistakes. When a pup stops playing and starts to look around for a "good spot", he needs to go out. By observing your dog you will quickly learn to tell the difference between the pup's exploring his new universe and his searching for a "good location".
- If the pup starts to make a mistake, firmly but quietly say "No" and take the dog straight to his toilet area. Do not yell at the dog. Do not chase the dog. At this point it is up to you to be observant of your dog. Any mistakes that are made are due to your not paying attention.
- If you can not supervise the dog for a period of time, put the dog in a confinement area (prepared with papers) or confine him to the room where you are.
- When you are relaxing (watching TV, reading or on computer), have the dog with you. Give the pup some of his toys to play with. Have the dog on his leash or confine him to the room where you are, so that he doesn't wander of and have an accident. Teach him that it can be enjoyable just being with you.
When you can't be with your dog
- Provide a small area confinement area (bathroom with all "chewable" items removed, fenced off area of the garage, or a crate).
- Do not leave food and water with the dog, or fill him with cookies or snacks before you leave. You should schedule the pup's breakfast to be at least 2 hours before your planned departure time. That way the pup can eat, digest his food and relieve himself prior to your departure.
- Ideally, if you are going to be gone for more than eight hours, someone should give the dog a drink and an opportunity to relieve himself.
Taking the dog out (to the latrine)
- Take your dog on leash to the designated toilet area. Stand quietly, so that the dog can find the right spot. Do not distract the dog. Do not praise the dog during his search. If after about 5 minutes your dog hasn't gone to the bathroom, return him to the house (keeping a close eye on him) for about 1/2 hour, then try again.
- As the dog starts to relieve himself; calmly praise him. Use a chosen word or phrase (good potty or wonderful potty). This phrase will only be used for praise in going potty.
- When the dog has finished relieving himself praise him more enthusiastically. Let him know that you are very proud of him.
- Remember your dog's routine. Some dogs will "potty" two or three times per outing in the morning, but only twice per outing in the evening. Urination is often followed by defecation, while other dogs will do the reverse.
- Even. if the weather is foul, do not let your dog know that you don't want to be going outside with him. By teaching your dog that even in bad weather going outside is "the thing to do", to please you, then he will be more willing to convey his needs to you.
- While you are learning your dog's "time table", take him out immediately after he wakes up, after he has eaten and after all play sessions.
Catching the dog "in the act"
- Without yelling, firmly say "No". If you still don't have the dog's attention, clap your hands.
- Get the dog outside, to the designated latrine area. If the dog relieves himself outside praise him. Proceed with the potty routine.
- Clean the mess with a deodorizing or odor killing cleanser. If the dog smells his own scent as having been used as a bathroom area, the dog will continue to use the area.
- If the cleanser is not able to eliminate enough of the scent so that the dog can not detect it, you can help mask the scent over with vanilla extract. Just one or two drops will make it impossible for the dog to smell any lingering odor.
If you find a mess after the fact
- Do not punish the dog.
- Accept the fact that you were not paying attention to the dog.
- Do not show the dog that you are upset. Calmly put the dog on his leash and bring him to the location of the accident. With the dog at your side, firmly scold the potty. Do not scold the dog.
- Blot up some urine, or pick up some stool with a piece of paper. Take the evidence and the dog to the latrine area. Place the paper on the ground and with the dog watching praise the potty for being in the "right" place. Temporarily leave the paper there. (Remove it when the dog isn't watching)
- Clean up the remaining mess in the house as outlined above.
Special thanks to George Jones for writing this article