Help with Housebreaking
If you're trying to correct a problem with an adult dog, start retraining
from scratch. Start with a check-up to be certain there is no physical cause.
Get a good enzyme-based stain and odor removal product (Nature's Miracle, Pet
Stain Remover, or similar). Treat her crate or safe area and all her bedding.
Thoroughly treat any areas where she has urinated. Treat an area at least twice
the size you think should be treated. Follow the directions on the bottle
religiously. Then put a chair, some aluminum foil or something similar over the
area to keep her away from it. Just be sure the area is completely dry or that
the object you use will allow the area to dry. If the problem has occurred in a
crate or safe area, feed her in the area and leave her dishes in that area.
If the problem only occurs when you're away, it may be related to separation
anxiety or you may be leaving her alone for longer than she can control her
bladder or bowels. Ask your veterinarian for guidance or for a referral to a
If you're starting with a new dog regardless of age, the basics are the same.
Most dogs naturally want to keep their dens clean. Dogs don't generalize well so
it is our job to teach them to treat the whole house as their den. Some dogs
catch on quickly. Some dogs have to be taught room by room. Dogs who are allowed
to sleep in your bedroom often adopt the bedroom as part of the den very easily.
Just because she can go all night without messing in the bedroom, doesn't mean
she's house trained. Teach her what you want one room at a time.
Give her food and water on a regular schedule. Remove her
water ten minutes after you remove her food. Give her a last drink about two
hours before your bedtime. If you're going to be gone more than two hours or if
you're in a warm climate and do not have air conditioning, teach her to drink
from a water bottle and attach it to her crate. Or simply leave several ice
cubes in her water dish.
Get a small notebook or one of those magnetic boards you can put on the
refrigerator. Keep a journal for at least 7 to 10 days. Record when she eats,
when she drinks, and when she eliminates. After a week to ten days, see what
patterns emerge. Schedule your trips out accordingly or rearrange her
feeding/watering schedule you accommodate yours.
Take her out-don't just open the door and let her out if you
have a fenced yard-same goes for tying her out-you can't reinforce good behavior
if you aren't there to see it. When you open the door say outside so she learns
to associate a word with the activity. When she squats, calmly say a word that
tells her what you want (take a break, go potty....). When she assumes
the position and there is no possibility that she can change her mind, use your
reward marker to let her know this is what you want.
Treat and praise her immediately when she has finished. It's
important to deliver the treat immediately, so carry your treats into the yard
with you. Here's where a reward marker is handy if you goofed and forgot the
Make your rewards memorable-a tiny piece of leftover
chicken, a run in the yard (if it's fenced)-something that is REALLY rewarding
so she'll want it to happen again. Mix these up so it's not always the same
reward. And there is nothing that says you can't give her a treat and
take her for a walk. Do not take her for a walk to take care of
business. Let her learn to use a portion of your property or some other
specified area-then take her for a walk. The walk is part of the reward for
doing it right. Some dogs quickly figure out they can extend the walk by
not getting down to
business. When we're in a hurry, we end up bringing them in too soon and the
carpet (and ultimately the dog) suffers.
Prevent accidents. If she can't be trusted out of sight or
out of reach, manage her environment. You can't crate her twenty-four hours a
day (actually, crates shouldn't be used for more than a few hours at a time). If
she needs more management, a safe area is a better way to go (a dog-proofed
kitchen or laundry room, for example). When you're home, tether her to your
waist. Simply fasten her leash to your belt or a belt loop. She can't get out of
sight or out of reach if she's tethered.
DO NOT correct or punish mistakes unless you actually see
them begin to occur. Punishment for house training problems tends only to make
the dog afraid to go when you are watching. Punishments are more difficult to
use correctly than rewards and shouldn't be used without a clear understanding
of how they work and how to use them. I recommend against them. If you see her
start to squat, take her by the collar and calmly command outside.
No only tells her you're upset, it doesn't tell her what it is you'd like
her to learn. Take her by the collar and lead her outside. If she finishes
outside, reward her although she started on the carpet. Clean surface
immediately with an enzyme cleaner.
If you are managing your dog, there should be no opportunity for accidents.
Whenever the dog has eaten, awakened from a nap, played, had a training session,
or otherwise gotten excited, she needs to be taken out. Until you've gone three
months without an incident, do not leave her unattended or unconfined.
If you eliminate free feeding, manage your dog to prevent accidents, and
establish a strong reward history, you'll see significant progress in just a few
to previous page