With all the new puppies finding homes in the greater Memphis area this time of year, Dog Obedience College has been getting a lot of inquiries about housebreaking / potty training. And understandably so, after all nobody wants their dog relieving themselves inside. As with everything in dog training there are varying opinions on how to best handle housebreaking a dog. I’m going to wade through and debunk a few of those methods as well as leave you with a proven time tested approach that is highly recommended.
Approaches to AVOID for Housebreaking
- Using a Pee Pad. Over the years I have seen many people try to take this approach and it usually goes the same way. At first it seems great, if they don’t get to their pup in time, then the dog goes on the pee pad instead of on the floor. This slowly progresses to letting the pup use the pee pad when it’s rainy or cold outside. And eventually it happens, the dog starts refusing to go outside to relieve himself and instead will only do it on a pee pad. This may be fine if your dog is going to stay very small but if your dog is going to get to a good size, this means trouble. Now there are ways to wean your dog off the pee pad and get him/her going outside again but it takes just as much effort as doing it right the first time.
- Rubbing their nose in it. This poor approach has been around since before I was a child, and I’m no spring chicken. Some how it continues to keep surviving despite all the evidence against it working. If you are unfamiliar with this approach, it involves rubbing your dog’s nose in their mess while shouting “no” or “bad dog” every time a housebreaking error is found. On top of this method just being mean, it is very flawed. The biggest flaw being your dog has no idea why you are rubbing his nose in his mess and yelling at him! So what generally happens is your dog starts to hide his messes assuming the reason he got yelled at before was because you found it. After all he didn’t get yelled at for the mess behind the couch you haven’t yet noticed.
Approach to USE for Housebreaking
- Schedule and Patience. Being successful at housebreaking a dog comes down to having a schedule and a lot of patience! When your pup is really young, he will need to go out often. How often is going to depend on his age and the progress you’ve made. To start out with take your pup out every single hour and be sure to give enough time for him to do his business. Once you have been successful with no accidents in the house for a week or so, try every two hours, then three, and so on. The biggest thing to keep in mind here is to give your dog every opportunity to relieve himself outside instead of inside. And don’t be in a hurry to see how fast you can increase the time between breaks! Be patient and take it slowly! If you push the pace too fast, then your more likely to end up with accidents in the house and that can set you back. A simple rule to remember for puppies is for every month your dog is old that is how many hours he can hold it. For instance, if you have a 3 month old dog, the max you should go between time outside is 3 hours.
- Routine. In addition to having a strict schedule get your dog use to going out at certain times of the day. For instance, as soon as you wake up or get him out of the crate, a half hour before and after meal time, just before bed, before playtime, as soon as you get home from work, and so on.
If you have followed a strict schedule and you are still having issues, then here are a few things to consider:
- Take a step back. Go back to the time frame that was working for your dog. The months to hours rule is only a guideline. If your dog is taking a little longer, then so be it.
- Go to the Vet. If your dog keeps having housebreaking issues regardless of the short time intervals between breaks, then you may want to check with your Vet to see if there are any medical issues going on.
- Enroll in Dog Training. It may sound a bit strange but for some dogs it takes getting into a whole learning mind set. I have seen it many times where once a dog starts learning obedience rules he/she catches on to housebreaking much faster.
- Consult a professional dog trainer. As always, if you are having issues, then don’t hesitate to contact a professional trainer from Dog Obedience College at info@DogObedienceCollege.com, 901-310-5826, or by filling out the Contact Form.