How to Housetrain Your Dog

To facilitate housetraining, follow these rules and your dog’s instincts.

Creatures of habit and instinctively clean, puppies and older dogs can be housetrained in a matter of weeks. The more consistent you are in following basic rules, the faster your dog will learn the proper behavior.
Before you begin
Before you begin the process of housebreaking, the following should be established:

  • Ensure a proper diet. Monitor what your dog eats. Foods high in sugar or fiber are poorly digested and result in frequent and high volume bowel movements. Talk to your veterinarian about a good quality dog food.
  • Follow a feeding schedule. Put your dog on a strict schedule of feeding and drinking. Sporadic habits make training difficult. Once your pup is on a feeding schedule you can factor in bathroom visits. Most dogs need to go 15 to 30 minutes after they eat.
  • Define “living” and “bathroom” areas. Your dog’s living area is a place where he can be when you are not able to supervise him. His potty spot is where he is allowed to eliminate (which may be outdoors). Your dog, instinctively, will not want to eliminate in his living area. Gradually, his living area can become the whole house. Until he is trained, however, confine him to this spot.

When is it time to “go”?
When housetraining, plan on taking your dog to the “bathroom” every 1 to 3 hours as well as:

  • After he wakes in the morning or after a nap
  • After each meal
  • After being left alone for a stretch of time
  • Before going to bed

Seven rules of housetraining
Once you have successfully put your dog on a feeding schedule, begin showing him where you would like him to go to the bathroom. As with any sort of training, the use of verbal cues will help.

  • Plan on taking your dog to the “bathroom” every 1 to 3 hours as well as: after he wakes in the morning or after a nap; after each meal; after being left alone for a stretch of time; before going to bed.
    • Following to the schedule above, or when your dog displays behavior that indicates that he has to relieve himself, ask him if he has to go. A simple word, such as “Outside?” is recommended by the dog training experts.
  • Take him on a leash outside and down the same path to your designated potty spot.
  • When you arrive, repeat a phrase such as “Go potty” and stay in that specific area for at least 15 minutes. Do not allow your dog to play or get any attention until after he does his business.
  • Once your dog has finished, praise him.
  • 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. Otherwise bring him outside after those 15 minutes.
  • You can speed up the housetraining process by rewarding your dog with a treat each time he eliminates in the designated area.
  • Remember: do not reprimand your dog when he has an accident. This usually confuses him and slows the housetraining process.

This technique teaches your dog to relieve himself on command. Make sure to remind your dog why he is outside and don’t let him get distracted. It may take some time, but your dog should learn successfully.