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For pet parents, housetraining the dog is the first step to a happy and healthy home. Like any kind of dog training, it means setting clear expectations and rewarding the dog for good behavior.
Housetraining a puppy is all about routine. Plan the day so that the puppy can go outside at least every two hours, or every hour if they’re less than two months old. Keep the puppy nearby through the day. If they start to look like they have to relieve themselves, get the leash and go outside for a walk:
Have a designated “potty” spot outdoors. The puppy can relieve themselves in the same place all the time. Take them directly there when going outside.
Choose a cue word. “Go potty,” or something similar will work. Say it to help them associate the spot with emptying their bladder or bowels. Say it when arriving at the spot and when they do their business.
Offer a treat. After they relieve themselves, and before taking them back inside.
If the puppy has to be alone, crate training can help to prevent accidents. Just make sure to:
Acclimate the puppy to the crate before confining them.
Avoid keeping them in the crate for more than three or four hours.
When bringing home an adult dog who hasn’t been house trained before, or who needs retraining, stay with them and look for signs that they need to go.
Adult dogs may already have bathroom signals. If the dog sniffs at the door or paws at a family member, they may be asking to go out.
As with a puppy, praise the dog when they relieve themselves outside. If caught in the act of urinating indoors, it’s important not to yell—just take them outside as quickly as possible and reward them if they go there.
Many dogs adapt to moving easily so long as their parent is nearby, but don’t be concerned if the process also involves managing some general or minor dog anxiety issues. Possible backslides in house training might happen.
Don’t fret—a bit of reassurance can go a long way. To make moving with a dog easier:
Pack the dog supplies last and unpack them first.
In the new home, place the food bowl, water, and favorite toys in a designated room—along with the dog crate if the dog has one.
Every couple of hours, take the dog outside to a spot that may need to be designated as the new pet bathroom.
Lead the dog through the rest of the house, one room at a time.
Watch them sniff and explore. Take them outside to their “spot” as soon as they look like they have to go.
House training a dog should always be a positive experience. Be sure to:
Provide plenty of treats and praise when the dog uses the bathroom in the “spot” designated.
Reward as soon as possible after they relieve themselves in the correct area.
If the dog has an accident, don’t punish or shame them.
Clean accident areas thoroughly. Dogs are naturally motivated to relieve themselves in places that have their scent already.
By keeping things positive, pet parents can encourage their dogs to use the great outdoors as their bathroom—making for clean and happy homes.