House training a dog can be frustrating and monotonous. In and out, where is the puppy, what time did he last go out? All questions that you will be asking yourself until your puppy is about 5 months old. With an older rescue dog, this process can go much quicker if your new dog has some foundation in housebreaking. Consistency is key in this process, so make sure your entire family is on board. An accident is not the puppies fault, it’s your fault for not seeing the signs or adjusting your expectations of your puppy.
1. Manage your expectations
As a first step, do an assessment of how well your dog can control his bladder and bowels when he’s not in the crate. With an older dog, plan to take them out every two hours for the first few days, with puppies younger than 8 months, every hour that they are not napping. Keep in mind that your puppy can “hold it” for his age in months plus one. (example: 12 week old puppy can hold it for 4 hours in his crate.)
2. Keep up with what your pup is doing.
Keeping eyeballs on your puppy at all times is key for successful house train
ing. If your puppy can wander off and have an accident then they will keep wandering off to that same space. If you have to get things done and cannot keep your eyeballs on your pup, then crate him for a short time, or tether him to you.
3. Throw a party for your puppy
How excited will you be when you realize your pup is house trained? Really excited! Make sure that level of excitement is shown to your pup when they “go” outside. Throw your puppy a party that will make the neighbors wonder what you are doing. (Acting like a fool means you will be a great dog trainer, but that’s a blog post for another day) Have your cookie ready for your puppy before you go outside. Many people want to come back inside and give their puppy a cookie but by that time your puppy has completely forgotten what they are doing, and why they are getting the cookie.
4. When accidents happen
Clean the crate and any bedding so it is free of any scent from urine or feces. Use Natures Miracle or another cleaner with an enzyme that will break down the proteins in the urine. Dogs noses are way better than ours so an odor eliminator will not do the trick.
Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog for accidents. This will cause the puppy to want to hide from you when they have to go. If your puppy party is good, then your puppy will want you to come outside with them when they need to go. Which is exactly what you want them to do!
Bells on the door are a great training tool if your “potty door” is not in a common area. If you find that your pup is going to the door and sitting, and you can’t see him, then a bell might be your answer. When you get your bells, ring them yourself before opening the door to let puppy out. After a few days of this, encourage puppy to touch the bell to get you to open the door. Soon your puppy will learn that bell means the door opens (basic classical conditioning!). If you find that puppy begins to ring the bells to go outside to play, make sure you are ignoring the play behavior outside until they have taken care of business. If puppy only wants to play, then they go back inside for a quick time out in the crate, and straight back outside once let out.