House Training

If I start a new blog then I might as well start with a big topic.  Let’s talk about house training.

One of the most common reasons that people give up their pet dogs is challenges with housebreaking.  It’s incredibly frustrating when your house smells like pee and your puppy is hiding behind your couch to poop.  If you don’t know what to do about it or where to begin, it’s easy to start thinking about giving up your new dog.

Since it’s unreasonable for your puppy to spend it’s entire life in a crate or pen, you’re going to need to devote some time to this project.  Hey, you got the dog.  Invest a bit of energy here.

This first video is made by Emily Larlham of Dogmantics.  Emily does a lovely job of talking you through the steps and demonstrating with a video example the process you’ll want to follow to get your puppy housebroken.  Note her emphasis on prevention!  She also addresses the situation of a dog that is already struggling with eliminating in the house.

As your house training progresses, you might want to teach your dog to ring a bell to let you know they’d  like to go out.  Take a look at this article by  Yvette Van Veen of “Awesome dogs” to help you with that:

Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell

and if you’re running into challenges with that bell ringing, check out Eileen Anderson’s problem solving from her blog “Eileen and Dogs”

 Ring the Bell blog

Good luck!  Some dogs pick up the basic idea in a matter of days, and others can test the most patient person with months of accidents.  Dogs are truly individuals with varying degrees of bladder control and maturity, and what is easy and intuitive for one dog may not be easy for another.  Some dogs are going to be naturally clean, especially if they were raised with their litter mates in clean conditions.  Other dogs don’t seem to care too much when and where they eliminate, putting a good deal more of a burden on you to get them out early and often to avoid as much failure as possible.  Be aware that punishing accidents in the house is a good way to inadvertently teach your dog to hide when they want to eliminate.  Believe me, it’s better to find the poop in the middle of the family room than behind your bed – where it’s been molding and smelling up your house for weeks.  Just clean up accidents and supervise more closely.

The most important thing that you can do to get your dog house trained is to PAY ATTENTION.  Put your dog on a schedule and stick to it – no free time in the house until your dog has eliminated outside first!  The first days and weeks are hard, but soon you’ll find yourself with a comfortable rhythm.  One day you’ll realize that accidents have become extremely infrequent and finally…non-existent!



About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.
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3 Responses to House Training

  1. krandall54 says:

    Hi Denise, just wanted to mention that I live in the “toy dog world”, where potty training can be especially challenging, for a number of reasons. What many good toy dog breeders have learned is that if you provide these breeds with an indoor potty option, like a UgoDog or litter box with wood pellets, life can be MUCH easier for everyone. Even puppies who are initially trained exclusively to an indoor potty transition naturally, with no encouragement, to eliminating outdoors most of the time… they really prefer it when they understand and the outdoor option is available. But when they need to be left alone for a longer period, or if you live in the “Frozen North” like me, it’s also a great alternative for those days when the kids haven’t yet shoveled the deck, and the snow is higher than the dog’s head.

    You still have to TEACH them to use a litter box or UgoDog (unless you have a brilliant breeder like mine who starts them at 3 weeks, as they begin to climb out of the whelping box) but once they know it, it is a great convenience for the life of the dog.


    • As a fellow toy dog owner, I disagree with this. I don’t find them any harder to housetrain, they just need to go out more often until they are grown up. Giving them an indoor option for when they are home alone is a good idea, but I would never want to teach a dog to pee in the house.

      I also work as a dog trainer, and almost without exception, dogs who are taught to pee on pee pads or similar, will also pee on door mats and bath mats as adults, and don’t transition well to peeing exclusively outside. I always tell people to get rid of the pee pads and teach their dogs to pee outside.


      • krandall54 says:

        I agree completely about pee pads (especially reusable cloth ones) i know very few dogs trained to those who don’t have mistakes on throw rugs. But that’s not what I’m talking about. We’ve never used pee pads. We use litter boxes with pine pellets (Equine Pine horse bedding usually, but I’ve used wood stove pellets in a pinch). With my older dog, and many dogs I know, that’s all you need. My 6 month old puppy is a digger, and I object to stepping on hard wood pellets on the floor. So we now use litter boxes with grates on top. (Rascal Dog and UgoDog)

        Both my dogs were traiined to litter boxes as soon as they were able to stumble out of the whelping box. Of course it was my responsibility to keep up those good habits when I brought them home, but it wasn’t hard… It just required paying attention. Both transitioned to going outside most of the time with NO encouragement from me, just opportunities as they arose. Both prefer going outside, though the older one is a little more insistent about it. Neither ever has accidents in the house. In fact, I think the puppy has only had two accidents sice she came home at 9 weeks, and in both instances, a family member managed to shut her on the wrong side of a puppy gate… AWAY from her litter box. Can’t blame the puppy for that one! 😉


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