Housebreaking

Follow these steps to success with housebreaking:

Leash your dog and keep him or her with you. You must be able to catch the dog in the act. Do not let your dog out in the yard alone unattended.

Watch your dog. Most dogs need to go out after they eat, drink, play or sleep.

When you think it's time, ask your dog "Do you want to go outside?"

Walk your dog to the "potty spot". Bear in mind, the first time your dog goes outside on a leash it may take a while. Chose one or two areas where you want your dog to eliminate. The odor left at this place will remind your dog to eliminate when you take him or her there.

Give your dog a command to go. "Hurry up" or "Go Potty". This will save you time later on.

Praise your dog profusely for going outside. Do not let your dog out in the yard alone unattended. You must be there to praise within seconds of elimination.

Stick to a feeding schedule and walking schedule so your dog can anticipate when it will go out.

Confine your dog to small areas such as a crate or a laundry room that may be tiled when you cannot watch your dog. Dogs by nature do not want to soil their "den" or sleeping area. Close confinement helps to motivate your dog to wait to be taken outside and prevents damage to your home. If you must confine your dog longer than it can wait to eliminate, give it extra space to eliminate away from it's bed.

When your dog eliminates inside, clean the area with vinegar or an odor eliminator. Do not use ammonia. (Ammonia brings the smell out more) On carpets, soak up as much urine as possible with towels, then soak the carpet and padding with odor eliminator. Unless all odor is destroyed, the dog will be attracted to eliminate there again. Punishing your dog in any way will do more harm than good, especially if punishment occurs more than a few seconds after elimination. You must anticipate your dog's need to eliminate and provide him or her with the opportunity to eliminate in the appropriate place. Adjust the schedule or watch your pet more closely.

Plan to take your dog outside ten to thirty minutes after feeding, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and whenever the dog gets excited. In general, you should plan to take your dog out in hourly intervals equal to your pet's age in months. i.e. a 2-month-old puppy should go out at least every 2 hours, a 4-month-old puppy every 4 hours, etc. Regardless of age or previous training, start with a maximum interval of 4 hours. Although puppies younger than 6 months may understand that you want them to go outside, their performance is still limited physically by the size of their bladder. Some dogs, once housebroken, can wait over 8 hours at a time, but others, like most people, can't. It may be necessary to hire a dog walker if your schedule can't accommodate you dog's physical needs.

Things to remember:

If you cannot leash your dog, at the least confine him or her when you are busy. Crates are very popular and work well if not abused. Crates are a "dog playpen" that help the dog to control their bladder and you to control your temper. Purchase a crate that the dog can stand up in, turn around and lay down, but not run a marathon in. If you have a puppy of a large breed buy or borrow a smaller crate for when he is young. A crate that will fit him when he is full-grown will be too big for him as a small puppy. He will likely use half of it to sleep in and half of it as a bathroom, which defeats the whole purpose of the crate.

Do not expect dogs that are being paper trained to make the distinction between last week's paper and today's.

Keep in mind that puppies lack some bladder control skills up to sixteen weeks of age. Expecting long time periods of holding it before sixteen weeks may be asking too much. Try to let the young puppies out frequently.

Be consistent for at least two weeks and your dog will be asking to go out in no time! (If these techniques do not work and you are following them correctly, your dog may have a more serious problem. Consult a reputable behaviorist in your area).

If you are having problems with your dog peeing when people come to visit you should not punish your dog for this behavior. Punishment and force will only make the problem worse. Your dog is responding to you and your guests in a submissive or "puppy" manner by losing control over his or her bladder. Teach your pet to control himself or herself through practicing sit-stay and down-stay when people come to see you. Also, make sure that your dog is greeted in an area that cannot be harmed by urine (linoleum, tile or concrete). Don't react to the accident by shouting and yelling - be calm and soothing. The problem will disappear as your puppy matures and you don't make a big deal out of the problem.

If you are concerned that your dog may be too old to housebreak, age is not the issue with housebreaking - your level of commitment is the issue. Keep in mind that, as in any behavior training, the dog learned the behavior in a certain period of time and re-educating your dog will take longer if the dog is older. This does NOT mean your dog is un-trainable.

If you are having problems with a dog lifting his leg on your furniture consider neutering your male dog. Marking territory is something male dogs do, especially ones that are headstrong. Marking usually manifests itself when a male reaches maturity (anywhere from 1 to 2 years old, depending upon the breed) or when the male feels he must assert his authority. i.e. there is a new person in the house, a new dog, a visitor, a female dog in heat, or there is a change in training. Unless you are going to breed your male, I would suggest neutering him. The problem may not be completely eliminated because of his age and the length of time he's marked but you should see a difference in the frequency of his marking about four months after the procedure possibly sooner. Combine this with obedience commands, and you should be able to control the marking behavior.

If you dog is still having accidents and seems to understand the housebreaking concept. Many times a medical problem is overlooked because owners and some veterinarians assume accidents are caused by improper training methods. Always have your dog checked by a reliable veterinarian, especially if your dog soils his or her crate, urinates frequently or has problems going to the bathroom.