If you’re a pet parent to any of the country’s estimated 78 million dogs, here’s how to make house-training easier for both you and your pet.
1. Take your dog to the “bathroom” every one to three hours, as well as after he first wakes up in the morning or after a nap, after each meal, after being left alone for a stretch of time, and before going to bed.
2. According to that schedule or when your dog’s behavior indicates he has to relieve himself, ask him if he has to go with a simple phrase, such as “Go potty?” This phrase should be unique to house-training to avoid confusion.
3. Take him on a leash outside and down the same path to your designated potty spot.
4. When you arrive, repeat the designated phrase and stay in that specific area for at least 15 minutes.
5. Once your dog has finished, praise him or give him a treat right away. Giving your dog immediate positive reinforcement is most effective; waiting until you’re back home can be confusing.
6. If your dog hasn’t successfully done his business, bring him back to the house and keep an eye on him for 15 minutes. If he starts to go, you will be right there to get him outside quickly. Otherwise, bring him outside after those 15 minutes.
7. Keep your dog on a consistent feeding schedule to make his elimination schedule more predictable.
8. Supplement your training with dog pads. They are a great way to reinforce the specific areas that are designated for potty. Dog pads are also useful for those rainy days when your dog may not want to go out-side.
“Don’t reprimand your dog when he has an accident,” advises Georgette Wilson, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. “This usually confuses him and slows the house-training process. Positive reinforcement is much more effective for successful housebreaking.”
“Until training is completed,” Dr. Wilson says, “dog pads are a good idea. They’re also handy for dogs that have incontinence problems due to age or illness, for small dogs that can’t go out due to predators, for dogs stuck inside during bad weather, and for use while traveling.”
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