Housetraining Basics

1) Keep the dog in a safe place when you are not home or are asleep. A crate just large enough that he can lie down and stand fully erect is usually ideal for this. A small room with a baby-gate rather than a closed door will also work, provided this safe place is a place where the particular dog will not use the bathroom. You are trying to help the dog develop control.

2) When you are able to watch the pup, keep pup always in the same room with you. If you see pup start to have an accident, say "No, Outside" at the very same time you scoop up the puppy and run outside. For a dog you cannot carry, use a leash. No punishment, EVER. That doesn't work for housetraining, and can cause nasty complications.

3) When you are outside in the right place for pup to relieve, use a cue phrase, such as "Go Potty." This is only used at the time and the place where you want pup to do it now. Never say it before you take the puppy outside. While you're still in the house, only use the word "Outside."

4) When pup relieves outside, praise sincerely. If pup likes a treat, you might have some hidden on your person, and whip one out to give at that moment. If pup likes to play outside, allow a little playtime after pup relieves. If your puppy wants to get right back inside, reward the pup by going right back inside.

5) Every time pup has an accident in the house, it confuses the puppy. Therefore, you need to supervise or confine your pup 100% of the time. If necessary to keep you watching the puppy, sometimes you can fasten yourself to the puppy with a leash at your waist.

6) If you find an accident the puppy has had in the house that you did not see happen, that is more your mistake than the puppy's! Whatever you do, never punish your dog for this.

7) Before using any other cleaning agents, treat the spot deeply and thoroughly with a bacterial enzyme odor eliminator product such as Nature's Miracle. Nothing else has been proven to really work on getting rid of the scent. If you don't get rid of the scent, it will draw the dog's instincts to use the spot again. Other cleaning products used before the the bacterial enzyme product can cause it to be unable to work. They can literally kill the little bacteria before they have a chance to deal with the odor.

8) Make sure your puppy is on a top-quality dog food, and is free of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, giardia. Any of these things can sabotage housetraining efforts. If the puppy ever seems to be urinating abnormally often, take a urine specimen to the veterinarian for analysis.

9) Schedule food and water. Give water whenever you can, but not in the crate, and not right before the dog is going to have to wait in the crate for some time. Modify this, of course, if the vet recommends it for your puppy or your situation. Feed at least twice a day, the best dog food you can get (cheap dog foods cause housetraining problems, as well as many other problems), and keep the food to a careful schedule. Scheduled food going IN leads to scheduled poop coming OUT, and that is very important for housetraining.

10) When you are at home and awake, take the pup outside about once per hour. As time goes by, you will be able to tell just how often your dog needs to go. During housetraining, you must go with the puppy, not put your puppy outside without you. That way you are there to praise, and you also know when the puppy relieved, and when the puppy did not relieve.

11) Puppies generally are not mature enough for full bladder and bowel control until at least 16 weeks of age.

12) With a small dog, you also have the problem that the dog sees the house as very large. Relieving off in a corner of a quiet room can seem to the small dog's instincts to be far enough away from the pack. A larger dog will more naturally prefer to go outside. That's one reason this process can take longer with small dogs. Small male dogs may be stimulated by instincts to mark territory in your house, while larger male dogs would rather mark a larger territory, outside the house. It can be helpful to expand your small dog's freedom in the house more slowly. Remember, any mistakes that you do not see and correct by taking the dog outside right then will confuse your dog, and make housetraining take longer.

13) One thing that frequently confuses people is that the dog can hold it for 8 hours during the night or when they are away at work. That makes them think 8 hours is reasonable to ask of the dog at other times, too. However, during sleep, the body quiets the bladder and bowels, to allow this longer period of time. When you're gone, the dog likely sleeps a lot, too, since dogs sleep about 14 hours a day. When the body has had to hold it like this, then it has to catch up. That makes going out every hour even more important. Take your puppy out at least twice in the morning before you leave for work, too.

14) Some spayed female dogs will develop a problem as they age with bladder incontinence. This is not a housetraining problem, and will normally be noticed as loss of urine where the dog is resting--the dog may not even be aware when it happens. This problem is easily controlled with inexpensive medication from your veterinarian. The medication may need a bit of adjustment, and there is more than one type of medication that works, so be sure to keep working with the vet until the right medication at the right dosage is found. Then, no more accidents!

15) Most every dog can be housetrained, if you do it right. However, some take longer than others. If you are minimizing the accidents by providing the proper supervision, and if you are treating any accident spots correctly, having a dog who takes longer to housetrain will not result in your having a smelly house or a ruined carpet.

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