Housetraining (or potty training) takes time, but when you are finished you will have a dog who only eliminates outside (excluding medical conditions or sickness). The most effective way to housetrain a dog is by using a crate, establishing and sticking to a schedule, and constant supervision.
Using a Crate
For housetraining, your dog’s crate should be just large enough that he can stand and turn around. Dogs do not like to eliminate where they sleep and you are going to take advantage of this instinct to teach him not to go to the bathroom inside.
Staying on Schedule
A dog that is housetraining should be taken out first thing in the morning. It is good practice to keep his leash near his crate so that you can leash him while he’s still in the crate and take him directly outside. If you let him out of the crate to roam while you are making coffee, for example, he’s likely to have an accident.
Dogs typically eliminate after eating, so part of his schedule should be going outside no more than thirty minutes after consuming a meal.
Dogs thrive and are less anxious with a predictable schedule, and housetraining is no different. During housetraining, your dog should be taken out every three to four hours. This is done so he can know when it’s time for him to eliminate and to prevent accidents. As the housetraining progresses, you can stretch this time so that your dog gets used to holding it longer.
The last thing that you should do every day with your housetraining dog is take him out right before bed. By doing this you give him the best chance of not having an accident overnight and allow him to be more comfortable while he holds it in his crate for the night.
Dogs in housetraining are notorious for sneaking off and eliminating when no one is watching. Therefore, it is imperative that your dog be supervised for the entire time he is learning not to go to the bathroom in the house. We suggest that you keep his leash on in the house and have him with you at all times to prevent any accidents. If you notice the signs that he looks ready to eliminate (sniffing the ground, circling, etc.), take him outside immediately. Praise him or give him a treat when he does his business outside, thereby creating a positive association with outside elimination. If you cannot supervise your housetraining dog, even for 10 minutes, then put him in his crate. We understand that this is a lot of work but it is worth it.
If your dog has an accident, you want to clean it with a product that has an enzyme solution (Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution). The reason for this is that the enzymes in these cleaners consume the urinary and fecal molecules so the dog can no longer smell it, which makes it less likely that he’ll go to that spot again for relief or to mark. If your dog has accidents in his crate, there’s a good chance that it’s too big for him.
Remember that a housetraining dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around. This may seem harsh, but dogs who are properly crate trained will see their crate as their secure place and feel comfortable in it. If your dog is still having accidents in his crate, you may be leaving him in there too long. Do not leave him in the crate for extended periods of time. Puppies under six months should not be left in the crate for more than four hours at a time. An adult dog can go longer, but it is not ideal. If there is no other option to leaving him in the crate for a long time, then it is necessary that his out-time be filled with exercise and mental stimulation.
If you are doing all of the above and your dog is still having accidents, it may be because he has a bladder infection. We suggest taking him to the vet for a checkup.
Need further assistance with a pet displaying unfavorable behaviors? BARCS is here to help! Please email us here for more help with a training or behavior-related issue with your pet.