The first, and one of the most important lessons your dog will learn is house training. Housebreaking is the art of teaching your dog where and where not to eliminate. Although this process will take some time, and a lot of patience on your part, once your dog has been properly trained, this is one lesson he won’t forget.
In order for house training to be successful, you need to have a plan and stick to it. A plan may consist of:
- Creating a schedule so you know when to take out your dog
- Deciding who is responsible for taking out the dog at different times (if you aren’t the only owner)
- Deciding whether you will crate train your dog or not.
- Deciding if you will teach your dog to eliminate on command
If you don’t yet have a plan, don’t worry, it’s never too late to create one. To help you along, keep the following in mind –
Create a schedule – Dogs are creatures of habit and are happiest when on a schedule. It’s a good idea to create a house training schedule for your dog and stick to it. Taking your dog outside at the same time everyday will help him to learn faster. Keep in mind that when you are teaching a puppy to eliminate outside, at first he will need to go out more often (usually every 2 hours) than a full grown dog, as he doesn’t yet have full control over his bladder. The following are good times to take out your dog –
- Right after your pup wakes up and before you go to bed
- Before you leave for work and as soon as you get home
- Shortly after your dog eats or drinks (approximately 10 – 15 minutes)
Be consistent – Take your dog to the same area each time he is to eliminate. Your dog will eventually associate this area as their area of elimination. To help you remember where the area is, you may want to use a rope or some other marker to create a circle. To help your dog remember to associate this area with elimination, leave a small sample of his stool in the area so when he smells it, his body will be triggered to eliminate.
To crate or not to crate – Crating is not a necessary part of dog house training, but many owners find this to be a sound method. A crate is your dog’s safe environment; his personal space. His natural instinct will be to not eliminate in his “den”. This will teach him to wait before he relieves himself. Just make sure you get a crate that is large enough for the dog to comfortably move around, but not so large that he can eliminate in one corner and sleep in another.
Praise and reward your puppy – Remember, teaching your dog to eliminate outside is another step in the training process, and like all training, good behavior should be rewarded so your dog gets the right message. Any time your dog eliminates outside praise him. When you are getting him familiar with the routine and are in the first teaching stages, it doesn’t hurt to accompany the praise with a treat to let him know he’s pleasing you.