For new and even experienced dog owners, housebreaking can take several weeks of consistent attention and leadership. Although some dogs have a reputation as easily trainable, while others appear more stubborn, all dogs are capable of learning to eliminate waste outside, where and when you want them to go. Housebreaking during puppyhood is easiest; however, even older dogs can learn through consistency, patience and reward.
In the Morning
Establishing a routine is very important when housebreaking, and bringing your puppy outdoors first thing in the morning to the place you’d like him to go will set a pattern in place. Keep shoes, a jacket and a leash handy so you can proceed straight outside after releasing him from his crate or bed; avoid the temptation to shower, dress or eat breakfast first as your puppy might decide to spend those precious minutes relieving himself on your carpet. If you can, carry your dog outdoors to reduce the risk of in-house mess.
Dogs are blessed with a remarkably efficient and predictable digestive system. Your puppy will likely process his meal and be ready to go out within 30 minutes of eating, and sometimes less. Bring him to the same spot(s), and be patient; any sort of noise can distract your dog from completing his mission. Keep in mind that walking your leashed dog to areas where other dogs “go” might inspire him to relieve himself there as well. Because dogs track each other with scent, walking on the street can be an effective motivator. Let him sniff, and you may find yourself rewarded.
Rewarding the Deed
All dogs respond to treats and praise, so don’t hesitate to make a fuss when he does the deed. Carry small treats with you, and be sure to use verbal praise liberally. Cut back on treats as good behavior increases, otherwise you might find yourself giving treats for years. If your puppy has an accident inside — and he will, so prepare your home accordingly — avoid reacting negatively. Simply bring your puppy outside, and clean the area thoroughly with pet mess cleaner.
Hints Your Dog Needs to Go
The better you know your dog, the more you’ll be able to spot the signs that a trip outside is necessary. Sniffing is a surefire sign that something is amiss. Walking in a tight circle usually indicates elimination is imminent. Stop what you’re doing and bring your dog outside immediately; after going, provide a treat and praise, and before long your home will be safe from unwanted messes.
In general, as your dog grows, so should the amount of time between trips outside. A good rule of thumb is to remember that your dog can hold it in for as many hours as he is months old. That means a four-month-old puppy should comfortably wait four hours between trips to his favorite tree. In addition, puppies usually have to go outside after intense playtimes and after consuming copious amounts of water, so even if your dog is 6 months old he might need a quick walk, just in case.