General Rules For Housebreaking

Courtesy of ASPA


Keep a Schedule
  • Place the dog on a regular elimination schedule and take him outside at certain times, whether he needs to eliminate or not -- first thing in the morning, after meals and play and the last thing at night. It is essential to accompany him to make certain he is, indeed, eliminating. Dogs are creatures of habit. The quicker you turn a good behavior into a habit, the faster your training will go.
  • Set up a rigorous feeding and watering schedule. Dogs need routine. So feed and water him at the same time every day, and take him out immediately after he does both. Plan to take the pet outside 10-30 minutes after feeding, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and whenever the pet gets excited.
  • Make a chart of all the times he eliminates. Whether it is inside or outside. This will make his elimination habits a lot clearer for you and, in turn, you will be able to anticipate and avoid accidents.
Accidents Will Happen!

Despite your best efforts and diligence an accident may occur. If it should happen, treat the incident in a matter-of-fact manner. It is critical that you not scare or confuse your dog by physical punishment or yelling. The dog won't understand why you're upset, and you are only creating more stress for your dog.

Do not get mad later; he will associate that exact moment with you being mad. After-The-Fact Discipline Does NOT Work! Never ever discipline (orally or otherwise) your puppy or dog after-the-fact for house soiling accidents that you did not actually witness.

Catching Them in the Act

Correct the dog any time you see them in the process of making an accident in the house. (Even if you should see your puppy eliminate on the floor or carpet, harsh physical punishment is never recommended. Rather, use a firm guttural "NO." It should not be a loud yell.)

Cleaning Up

Put the dog outdoors or in another room while you clean. They should not see you cleaning the mess. If the accident should occur on carpeting, use lots of paper towel and blot with fresh paper until you have lifted as much liquid as possible. Use an odor neutralizer, such as a product called "Nature's Miracle" (you can buy this at your local pet store, or through a mail order catalog). You'll need to make sure that whatever product you're using is an enzymatic cleaner, meaning that it actually 'breaks down' the urine or fecal matter on a microscopic level, rather than just masking the scent.

Set Them up to Succeed

Keep him confined to either a crate, or a dog run outside when you can't 100% supervise him. You do not want to set him up to fail, or allow him the opportunity to fail.

Be Consistent!

Pick a word or phrase to use to indicate it is time to go out. ("Get busy," "Go potty," "Go out.") Make sure all members of the family use the same word or phrase.

Target Spot

Establish a specific spot, and commands you repeat (such as "Get busy," "Go potty") while you're waiting for him to eliminate outside. Training your dog to use a target area is very important. So pick one specific area for him to go potty. Make sure all members of the family use the same spot. Keep the "target spot" separate from the play area.

Exit Strategy

Always go out through the same door. Get a routine set so that he learns that every time he goes through that particular door, he needs to go potty. He will also learn to stand at the door when he needs to go out, a good indication for you to start looking for.

Is Your Dog Telling You He Needs to Go?

Learn to recognize your dog's signals that he needs to go out. For example, many dogs will sniff the floor and walk in circles when they need to go.

Praise, Praise, Praise!

Praise the dog any time he eliminates outside. Be sure to use a VERY happy and excited tone of voice. Have a treat handy to reward him.

Consistency Is the Key:

Be consistent. Do not allow one thing one day and another thing another day. This will confuse them.

Feeding in Their Den:

Dogs are typically clean animals. Because of this, it is important to feed your dog in all areas of the house that the dog will inhabit. Do this every morning and evening to imprint in your dog that the house is its den and living space. Dogs do not typically want to mess or foul their den, so by feeding them in all areas of the house, you reinforce it is a place to keep clean.

Going Potty Is a Business Trip

Don't play with your dog while you are outside. Simply stand still, repeating the indication word to go. Be sure to praise him profusely when he does go.

Feeding plan
  • Feed your dog twice a day. Allow him 10-15 minutes to eat and pick his food bowl up. What is left will remain up until his next scheduled feeding.
  • A dog will instinctively not want to eliminate in its den area. For this reason you should walk your dog around the house from room to room on a leash on a daily basis. Have a bag of treats handy, and reward calm behavior. Make sure your dog has already relieved himself outside. Walk him around the house 2-3 times a day throwing treats on the floor in various places. This will reinforce the need not to mess in the house.
  • More so, a dog will not want to eliminate in the area where it eats. So, in severe cases, feed your dog in a different room of the house at each meal. Particularly in the area where he has been eliminating.
Tips to Remember

A good way to avoid separation anxiety is to have someone else come home and let your dog out from time to time. Also be sure to mix up your "leaving routine" so that he does not begin to anticipate your leaving and associating that with a time of loneliness.

NEVER be excited greeting your dog when you get home. Rather, ignore him for a while until he has calmed down. In this way, you are not making a big deal about leaving or arriving home, in turn avoiding separation anxiety.

Never Discipline a Dog for Submissive Urination!

Submissive and excitement urination are completely involuntary, so never discipline your puppy for this. Eye contact, verbal scolding, hovering over, reaching out to pet your puppy's head, animated movements, talking in an excited or loud voice, as well as strangers/visitors approaching your puppy, may all potentially trigger your puppy to piddle. Disciplining your puppy for involuntary piddling must be avoided or the problem will simply get worse.

For an older dog with bad potty habits or one who has never been housebroken, you can expect to spend about six to eight weeks, following a strict housebreaking plan, before a new behavior pattern is established.

House-training your older dog requires patience, humor, understanding, compassion and time. He wants to please you by doing the right thing. Help him make the adjustment a successful one.