This method of housebreaking is
focused on preventing "accidents" instead of waiting for
accidents to happen. The goal is to make it easy for the puppy to do
the right thing in the first place. Training in this way is faster and
more effective than punishing the dog for mistakes. YOU play the most
important part in the success or failure of this method - you must be
patient, determined and reliable for it to work.
If you already own an adult dog with
housebreaking problems, you can use this method to start fresh just as
you would with a puppy.
This method also requires the use of
a dog crate or at least, a small, confined area for the pup to stay in
when he can't be supervised. A crate isn't cruel! It's your dog's own
private room where he can rest and stay safe, secure and out of
trouble. Just like a small child, your puppy needs to be protected
from hurting himself and destroying your furniture. A crate will make
the job so much easier!
The first few weeks of owning a puppy
are some of the hardest and most important. Spending extra time and
effort now will pay off in a big way. Don't blame the puppy if you're
Before you start, here are some
essential housebreaking facts:
- Adult dogs can be housebroken in
the same way as puppies.
- Puppies have limited bladder
- Dogs & puppies like to be
clean and sleep in a clean area.
- All dogs do best when kept to a
Dogs have to go poddy when.....
- ....they wake up in the morning or
after a nap.
- ....within 1/2 hour after eating
- ....before they go to sleep
If a dog and especially a puppy is
not allowed to relieve itself at those times, it will most likely have
an accident. Don't wait for the dog to "tell" you that it
has to go out. Just assume that he does and put him outside.
Housebreaking Baby Puppies
Baby puppies, under 3 months of age,
have limited bladder control and reflexes. They usually don't know
they're going to "go" untill the moment they do! It's not
realistic to expect them to tell you ahead of time. If you're
observant, you'll see that a puppy who's looking for a place to go
poddy will suddenly circle about while sniffing the floor. The
sniffing is instinct - he's looking for a place that's already been
used. If he can't find one, he'll start one! By preventing accidents
in the house, you'll teach him that the only appropriate bathroom is
the one outside!
Ideally, you're reading this before
you've brought your new puppy home. If you already have your puppy,
just pick up the schedule at an appropriate place.
Set up a dog crate or small, confined
area (the smaller the better.) Using a dog crate will be more
effective. The size of the crate is important - if it's too large, the
puppy will have room to use one end as a bathroom. If you've bought a
crate for him to "grow into", you can also get dividers to
reduce the inner space while he's small. If he must be left alone
while you're at work, then a larger crate is okay. Put a stack of
newspapers at one end for him to use when you can't be home to let him
Also in the crate should be a
sleeping pad and toys. Put the crate where he isn't shut away from the
family. If you're using a confined area instead, a baby gate across
the doorway is preferable to closing the door and isolating your
sYour puppy might not like the crate
at first. Don't give in to his complaining or tantrums! If you're sure
he isn't hungry or has to go poddy, ignore his yowling. If he gets
really obnoxious, reach inside the crate, give him a little shake by
the scruff of his neck and say NO in a deep, stern voice. Eventually
he'll settle down and sleep which is what crates are for! If you give
a tempting treat every time you put the dog in his crate, he'll soon
look forward to going in.
The crate is intended to be his
sleeping and feeding place and is where he should be when you can't
keep a close eye on him. If you give him the run of the house at this
age, you can expect accidents! Dogs instinctively keep their sleeping
areas clean. If you've allowed him to go poddy when he needs to, he
won't dirty his crate if he can help it. Once he's developed better
control, he won't need the newspapers unless you're going to be gone
all day. Change the papers several times a day if they've been soiled.
Puppy's First Night Home
Get off on the right foot at the
beginning! Carry the puppy from your car to the yard. Set him on the
grass and let him stay there untill he poddies. When he does, tell him
how wonderful he is! After bringing the pup inside, you can play with
him for an hour. Plan on taking the puppy outside every two hours (at
least) while he's awake. Don't wait for him to tell you that he has to
Feed the puppy his supper in his
crate. Don't let him out for half an hour and when you do, carry him
outside to poddy before you do anything else. Wait for him to have a
bowel movement before bringing him back in. Some pups get their jobs
done quickly, others may take half an hour. If he's being slow, walk
around the yard encouraging him to follow you. Walking tends to get
things moving, so to speak!
***Always take the puppy outside
first thing when you let him out of the crate and always CARRY the
puppy to the door!! This is important. Puppies seem to have a reflex
peeing action that takes affect the moment they step out of the crate
onto your carpeting. If you let him walk to the door, he'll probably
have an accident before he gets there. Part of this training method is
psychological - you want the puppy to feel grass under his feet when
he goes to the bathroom, not your carpeting!
After another short play period, take
the pup outside before bedtime, then tuck him into his crate for the
night. If he cries during the night, he probably has to go out. Carry
him outside to poddy, then put him back in the crate with a minimum of
cuddling. If you play with him, he might decide he doesn't want to go
back to sleep! Puppies usually sleep through the night within a few
Establish a regular schedule of poddy
trips and feedings. This helps you to control the times he has to go
out and prevent accidents in the house. First thing in the morning -
before you have your coffee - carry the puppy outside. He can then
come in and play for an hour. Feed breakfast in the crate and don't
let him out again for 1/2 hour. Then carry him back outside for poddy.
Puppies usually have a bowel movement after each meal so give him time
to accomplish it.
Now he can have another inside
playtime for an hour or so. Don't give him free run of the house, use
baby gates or close doors to keep him out of rooms he shouldn't go in.
(Puppies are notorious for finding out of the way corners to have
accidents in - keep him in an area where you can watch him). If you
give him too much freedom too soon, he'll probably make a mistake.
After playtime, take him outside again then tuck him into his crate
for a nap.
For the first month or so, you'll be
feeding 3-4 meals per day. Repeat the same procedure throughout the
day: poddy outside 1st thing in the morning, 1 hour playtime, poddy,
meal in crate, poddy, playtime, poddy, nap, poddy, playtime, meal,
etc. The playtimes can be lengthened as the puppy gets older and is
more reliable. Eventually the puppy will be letting you know when he
needs to go out but remember - if you ignore his request or don't move
quickly he'll have an accident!
I know this sounds like a lot of work
and it is! The results of all this runnin' in and out will pay off in
a well-housebroken puppy and clean carpets.
Keep in mind that some breeds are
easier to housebreak than others and how the puppy was raised before
it came to you has an affect, too. Pet store puppies who were allowed
to use wire-bottom crates have less inclination to keep their crates
clean. Puppies that were raised in garages or other large areas where
they could "go" wherever will also be a little more
difficult. Don't give up though - you can train them, it will just
take a little longer.
A word about paper-training: It seems
harmless to leave papers about "just in case" and for us who
work all day, it's a necessity. However, paper-training your pup will
make the overall job of housebreaking that much harder and take
longer. By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you're
teaching it that it's not acceptable to use the house. Using
newspapers will override this training. Also, be aware that many
puppies get the notion that going poddy NEAR the papers is as good as
going ON them! If you must use newspapers when you're gone, keep to
the regular housebreaking schedule when you're at home. Get the puppy
outside often enough and don't leave papers out "just in
Encouraging Clean Habits
Keep your dog's yard picked up and
free of old stools. Many dogs choose an area to use as a bathroom. If
left to become filthy, they'll refuse to use it and do their business
in the house instead! If your dog has to be tied up when he's outside,
keeping the area clean is even more critical. If you could only move
about in a small area, you wouldn't want to lie next to the toilet,
Picking up stools helps you keep tabs
on your dog's health as well. Stools should be firm and fairly dry.
Loose, sloppy stools can be an indication of worms, health problems,
stress or digestive upset.
Housebreaking Older Dogs
You can use a modified puppy schedule
to train an unhousebroken dog or one that's having housebreaking
problems. Start from the beginning just like a puppy, use a crate and
put them on a schedule.
An older dog can be expected to
control itself for longer periods provided you take it outside at
critical times - 1st thing in the morning, after meals and last thing
at night. Untill they're reliable, get them outside every 3-4 hours in
between those times. Adopted older dogs that have always had freedom
may be unwilling to have a bowel movement when on a leash. You can
either walk them longer or keep them confined untill they really gotta
Just like a puppy, don't give them
the run of the house and keep them in a crate or small area if you
can't supervise them. You can give them more freedom as they become
What to do if the puppy has an
Remember, this method of
housebreaking is based on PREVENTING accidents. By faithfully taking
the dog out often enough, you'll get faster results than if you
discipline the puppy after the accident has already happened. If you
puppy makes a mistake because you didn't get him out when you should
have - it's not his fault!
If you catch the pup in the act, stay
calm. Holler NO while you scoop the puppy up immediately - don't wait
for him to stop piddling - and carry him outside to an area he's used
before. As you set him on the ground, tell him "THIS IS WHERE YOU
GO PODDY!" and praise him as he finishes the job. Leave him out a
few more minutes to make sure he's done before bringing him back in.
This is a little trickier with an
adult dog especially if he's new to you and you don't know how he'll
react to being grabbed and thrust outside. Holler NO and put a leash
on to take him out and show him where the bathroom is. Make a point of
getting the dog out more often in the future!
ANY other corrections such as rubbing
his nose in it, smacking with newspapers, yelling, beating or slapping
only confuse and scare the dog. If you come across an "old"
accident, it really doesn't pay to get too excited about it. Dogs
aren't smart enough to connect a past act with your present anger and
he won't understand what you're so mad about. He'll act guilty but
it's only because he knows you're mad at him. He has no real idea why.
Point the spot out to him and say "WHAT IS THIS?" but that
should be limit of your correction.
Temporary Housebreaking Problems
Keep in mind that health problems,
changes in diet and emotional upsets (moving to a new home, adding a
new pet or family member, etc.) can cause temporary lapses in
housetraining. Diabetes in adult dogs and urinary tract infections in
both puppies and adults can cause dogs to have to urinate more often.
Urinary infections in young female puppies are common. A symptom is
frequent squatting with little urine release. If you suspect a
physical problem, please take your dog for an examination.
Sudden changes in dog food brands or
overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea. Dogs
don't need much variety in their diets so you're not harming yours by
staying to one brand of food. If you make a change, do it gradually by
mixing a little of the new food with the old, gradually increasing the
amount of new food every day. A sudden change of water can cause
digestive upset, too. If you're moving or traveling, take along a
couple gallons of "home" water to mix with the new.
Distilled water from the grocery store can also be used.
Cleaning up accidents
If you've worked hard with this
training method, you won't have many! Put your puppy (or adult dog)
away out of sight while you clean up a puddle. Dog mothers clean up
after their babies but you don't want your puppy to think that YOU do,
too! Clean up on linoleum is self-explanatory. On carpeting, get lots
of paper towel and continue blotting with fresh paper untill you've
lifted as much liquid as possible.
There are several home-made and
commercially available "odor killers" that are helpful. In a
pinch, plain white vinegar will work to help neutralize the odor and
the ammonia in the urine. (Don't use a cleaner with ammonia - it'll
make it worse!) Sprinkle baking soda on the spot to soak up moisture
and to help neutralize odor, vacuum when dry. At the pet store, you
can find a good selection of products that may be more effective. A
diarrhea stain on carpeting or upholstery can be lifted with a gentle
solution of lukewarm water, dishwashing soap and white vinegar.
Puppies are attracted to urine odors
and their noses are much better than ours! Even when using a
commerical odor killer, a teeny residue will be left behind that our
dogs can smell. Keep an eye on that spot in the future! This
remarkable scenting ability does have an advantage - if you must
paper-train your dog and he doesn't know what newspapers are for yet,
"house-breaking pads" are available at your pet store.
Treated with a mild attractive odor (too weak for us to smell), your
puppy will glady use them!
Advice for owners of male dogs
Your male puppy will begin to lift
his leg between 4-9 months of age. It signals the activation of his
sexual drive and instinct to "mark" territory. This is a
perfect age to neuter your dog and avoid the unwanted behaviors that
accompany sexual maturity - marking in inappropriate places, fighting
and aggression toward other male dogs. Intact (unneutered) males will
mark any upright object and are especially hard on your shubbery and
trees. Some males will also mark inside the house, particularly if
another dog comes to visit or if you're visiting in someone else's
home. If you use your male for breeding, you can expect this behavior
to get worse. Neutering your dog will protect his health, help him to
live longer and be a better pet along with improving his house
This housebreaking guide was written and copyrighted by Vicki
DeGruy and is published as a service of the Chow Chow Club, Inc.'s
Welfare Committee. Reproduction for other than personal home use is prohibited.
Contact us for reprint permission.