Do you know the number one concern of new dog owners? The one thing that worries most pet parents? The one issue that causes many to give up on their dog? House training. Not aggression. Not jumping. Not pulling on leash. The biggest question I get from new pet parents – regardless of the age of their dog – is how to teach their dog to go to the bathroom outside.
I’m really not surprised. After all, accidents in the house are smelly and dirty, and if it happens multiple times the level of frustration in the family members just keeps increasing. The good news is…it’s relatively easy to house train a dog if you just understand the steps to take. In my 20 plus years as a dog trainer, I’ve worked with thousands of families to help them speed up the house training process. I’ve also house trained multiple dogs of my own, including my new puppy, Ranger. House training is all about creating a habit in your dog. Your dog will learn to go to the bathroom wherever he goes the most! We obviously want that to be outside. This habit requires you to follow three simple steps:
- Constantly supervise your dog so you can prevent accidents and let your dog out when he goes near the door
- Take your dog outside to the same place repeatedly throughout the day
- Encourage your dog to hold it when you can’t supervise him (by using a crate)
Just repeat these steps over and over and soon your puppy will be going to the door when they need to go to the bathroom! Difficulty in house training is usually a result of one, or both, of the following common human errors:
Supervision isn’t 100%.
- When I say “supervise” it means physically see your dog at all times. If your dog goes around the corner, you go around the corner. If the dog goes down the hall, you go down the hall. You need to have eyes on your dog 100% of the time when he is roaming around the house. Using baby gates and barriers will help to reduce the amount of freedom your dog has to roam and will certainly help you to watch your dog, but you still have to pay attention in your dog goes under a piece of furniture. I find that especially with small dogs, owners lose track of them. They run down the hall, pee, and run back before the owner even notices they left the room.
- If you can’t physically watch your puppy at all times, use a leash in the house to help remind you!
- Remember: the goal in supervision is to prevent accidents from happening while you aren’t paying attention, and to let your dog out whenever he goes near the door.
Not taking your dog outside enough
- In the early stages of puppyhood, your puppy will need to go outside anytime he wakes up, about 15-20 minutes after eating, and anytime he has played 20-30 minutes. One of those things is happening about every hour or so.
- Don’t assume “he just went to the bathroom 45 minutes ago” is a good reason to avoid the trip outside. And if your puppy doesn’t actually go out the door, pick him up and take him out anyway.
So how long does all this take? I generally recommend you go for at least two months without accidents before you declare your dog “house trained”. But following the process above can get you there in just a matter of weeks. To help you understand these tips, check out this 4 minute video and a schedule based on three days of house training my own puppy (and YES…he really did go to the bathroom 14 times in one day)
What are your best tips for housetraining your dog? How long did it take? I’d love to hear it.