Housebreaking – It Isn’t That Difficult!
Having a dog that isn’t fully housebroken is often one of the most frustrating issues dog owners face. Nobody wants a dog peeing inside their house, especially if you have young children or the dog is destroying your flooring! Too frequently, I talk to people who think that older dogs or dogs who just don’t seem to “get it” are beyond help. Tragically, these dogs are sometimes left outside away from their family or other dogs, re-homed, or even abandoned at shelters. But ALL dogs can be housebroken—no matter how old!
Here’s how to housebreak your dog properly:
One of the best ways to help housebreak your dog is to create a routine around meal and potty breaks. Controlling how much and when your dog eats will help make sure your dog isn’t overeating and help him get into a potty schedule. While your dog should have plenty of water, especially in the summer or in warmer climates, you should still keep an eye on it so you know when your dog has had a nice, long drink.
In addition to scheduling feedings, you also want to schedule regular times for them to go to the bathroom. Usually, dogs need to be let out first thing in the morning and right before bed, after eating, and after exercise or play time. If you stick to a regular feeding schedule, you’ll quickly get a sense of your dog’s natural elimination schedule.
Limit Opportunities for Mistakes
During housebreaking, dogs should be crate trained or heavily supervised. If you’re crate training, the crate should be just big enough for the dog to comfortably turn around and lie down. A properly sized crate will help your dog learn to use self-control because dogs naturally dislike going to the bathroom in their “den.” Always be sure the crate is a positive experience for the dog and not associated with punishment! It should be used to prevent a mistake, not as a punishment for making one.
If your dog is not kept in a crate, keep a close eye on them so you can catch them BEFORE they have an accident. Close doors or block access to rooms where you can’t see them or keep them on a leash. Keeping the dog on a leash next to you, especially if it’s a new dog, can also help create a bond between you that will only make future training easier. Remember to never rub a dog’s nose in their mess and to never scold a dog for a mistake unless you catch it in the act. If there’s a delay between the accident and you finding it, they’re not going to understand what you’re upset about!
For most dogs, a structured feeding routine, regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, and supervision are all you need to housebreak a dog. However, in some circumstances, dogs may have had a traumatic experience that will make housebreaking more difficult (such as being kept n a puppy mill). In those situations, individualized training needs to be done to remove a sense of fear or anxiety and rehabilitate past behaviors.
If you have questions about how to housebreak your dog, get in touch by calling 215.607.7508 or via our contact page.