Housebreaking is one of the most important training for every dog! Take it or leave it, it is tough to cope with a dog that poops anywhere and everywhere! That is why housetraining is a must! Now that you know, what’s the way forward? What should you do and how should you go about it? This article explains it all.
For easy understanding, the steps have been divided into sections, which can be seen in the table of contents below.
Table of Contents
- Infographic I–How to potty train a dog fast (Summary)
- SECTION 1: PREPARE YOUR MIND
- SECTION 2: SELECT A POTTY TRAINING OPTION
- SECTION 3: START CRATE TRAINING
- Infographic II–How to potty train a dog fast
- 7 Don’ts of Crate Training
- SECTION 4: SCHEDULE POTTY BREAKS
- SECTION 5: TRAIN YOUR DOG TO POOP AND PEE ON COMMAND
- SECTION 6: TACKLE HOUSETRAINING PROBLEMS
Infographic I–How to potty train a dog fast (Summary)
SECTION 1: PREPARE YOUR MIND
What does mindset have to do with housetraining? Hmmm…. A lot!
Your mindset and attitude will go a long way in helping you achieve fast and effective results. The training does not start with your dog; it starts with you.
Many dogs have ended up in shelters because their owners found it difficult to housetrain them. If you are thinking of carrying out the training at your pace, you will be making a big mistake. There are several adverts online that promise to show you strategies to housetrain your dog in 5 days or less. It is very much unlikely that their methods or strategies will work for every dog. Dogs are different and housetraining should be done according to the strength and ability of your dog, and how quickly he can learn. Housetraining requires Consistency, Patience and Time.
There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going or anything worth achieving. Prepare your mind to do it right, and you will be happy in the end. You are about to teach your dog something entirely different from his normal way of life. Dogs “do it” wherever they see the space. Now, you want your dog to “do it” in a particular spot. It will happen but maybe not as smoothly as you expect it to be.
Again, you must be prepared to stick to a routine. During the training, you’ll need to take your dog for potty breaks at intervals, day and night. Following a potty schedule helps your dog to develop a new attitude (behaviour). This attitude will lead to a new action (your dog will stop eliminating here and there) and that action will finally lead to an achievement (your dog finally learns to potty in the right place).
Before moving on to the next section, here are two questions that bother a lot of people. One, “When can I start housetraining?” Two, “How long does it take to potty train a dog?”
When can I start housetraining my puppy or dog?
You can start housetraining your puppy from age 12 to 16 weeks. This also depends on the size and breed. “What if your dog does not fall within this age bracket?” Nice thought! Housetraining can still be effective, just that it may take a longer time.
How long does it take to potty train a dog?
Your puppy may not be fully housetrained until he is 6 six months old (It may take up to a year in some breeds). This is because puppies don’t have full bladder and bowel control until they are about 16 weeks old (4 months). Now, you would expect “adult” dogs to be housetrained quicker since they are already old enough to have bladder and bowel control. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for these reasons; if he’s a new dog, you don’t know how he was previously trained. Two, such dog might be used to some “old” techniques while you try to teach new and better ones.
One last thing! Complete potty training isn’t what you can do in few days. So many “half-trained” puppies with incomplete housetraining end up “doing it” everywhere. They know the right spot, but they also do it outside, inside, on your rug, in the kitchen and other unexpected places. Housetraining isn’t ONLY about telling your dog where to go! You must also train your dog not to go elsewhere.
SECTION 2: SELECT A POTTY TRAINING OPTION
Indoor Potty Training
Choose indoor training ONLY if you have good reasons to do so. Switching to outdoor training or combining the two methods can be very confusing to dogs. Indoor training seems less popular but it is the preferred choice for people who:
- live in high-rise buildings
- are advanced in age
- have small breeds of dog
- have disabilities
- work for long hours
Indoor potty training methods involve the use of newspapers, potty pads, litter boxes, turf pads, etc. The use of newspapers may not be a perfect option because newspapers have poor absorbent property which allows urine to soak through the floors. This means, ideally, the potty area should have hard flooring for easy clean-up in case of dripping.
You need to buy housetraining aids like a leash, collar, dog crate of suitable size, house training treats, cleaning products(to get rid of poop odour), puppy pad holder, poop bags, stain and urine detector. Some of these aids are also needed for outdoor training.
Outdoor Potty Training
Choose outdoor training if there is enough space: Some dogs choose their elimination area. If you see your puppy or dog eliminating in a particular spot regularly, if possible, make that spot the “elimination area” ( as long as it is a place you will also like to consider)
When a dog is trained to eliminate at a particular spot, the smell triggers it to poop and pee at that same spot next time. Also, a dog will like to “do it” over and over again at the same spot, to mark it as his territory.
Keep the elimination area clean always: At the INITIAL stage of the training, you may leave a pile of poop on the spot to allow your dog recognize it as the “right place.” However, you must not allow the place to become messy. If this happens, your dog may look for other places.
You can learn how to build the best potty area for your dog (outside the house), by reading the articles below
LINK 1: thecaninetrainingcenter.com
LINK 2: welcomepup.com
SECTION 3: START CRATE TRAINING
Other training methods include ‘umbilical cord’ method and constant supervision method. The article discusses crate training alone
A crate is an essential tool for housetraining . So, what is special about it?
With it, your dog can gain bowel and bladder control quickly and easily'(depending on the effort you put in). Dogs are not the neatest of all animals, but they don’t like to poop and sleep in the same place. Hence, crate training will teach your dog to hold it until he is taken to the appropriate place.
Steps Involved in Crate training
The following are the basic steps involved in crate training
1. Introduce your dog to the crate:
First off, do not put the crate in an isolated place (your aim is not to isolate or “quarantine” your dog). Before taking your dog there, make sure the inside of the crate looks attractive and appealing. (Put soft bedding, toys, and treats).
TIP: Using a wire crate lets your dog have a view of his surroundings. Some wire crates also have a tray that can be pulled from the base.
Walk your dog to the crate and drop some treats very close to the entrance. Repeat this step few times and finally drop some treats INSIDE the crate. If your dog enters the crate, reward him with more treats and play with him. If your dog is not willing to enter, take him back and repeat the process some hours later. Each time you do it, encourage him with his best treats.
At this point, you want him to see the crate as a lovely place, where he can have more treats and enjoy himself. However, do not CLOSE the door (of the crate) when he enters for the first time. He might get scared and may never like to enter again. Play with him for some minutes and let him feel comfortable. Take him out after some minutes.
Return to the crate 3-5 times, rewarding him with more treats. Gradually increase the stay time.
NOTE: Your dog should never stay in the crate for 24 hours at a stretch. Your goal is to use the crate as a housetraining tool.
2. Feed your dog in the crate
After staying comfortably in the crate for few minutes (probably not on the first day), the next step is to feed your dog right inside the crate. Put the food inside and encourage him to enter. If he does, let him have his meal while you close the door temporarily (Yes, you can start closing the door at this point). For his first meal, ensure you open the door before he finishes. After 3 or 4 meals, start leaving the door closed for few minutes after his meal.
3. Increase the duration of stay in the crate
As soon as your dog starts having his meals regularly without problem, you are free to increase the duration of stay, till you hit the target number (check the 4th point in the Infographic below).
Lead him to the crate and give him some treats. After that, command him to enter, by pointing and saying a phrase like “crate time”. Immediately he enters, play with him and praise him for his obedience. Ignore any negative behaviour and reward him as soon as he calms down. Close the crate and take your leave. Go back occasionally to check on him. If he is still calm, reward him and play with him for few minutes. Gradually increase the time till you reach the target.
4. Leaving your dog in the crate while you are away (not for too long)
While leaving the house, put some toys and treats in the crate. In addition to this, make sure you don’t announce your departure in any way. If possible, take him to the crate before you dress up or close the windows. You wouldn’t want a situation where your dog associates the crate with your departure. When you come back, don’t show any sign of excitement. Greet your dog as if you were together a few minutes ago.
5. Crating at night
If you can successfully crate your dog during the day, you shouldn’t have any problem doing it at night. As usual, walk your dog to his crate and give him the command to go in. Once he is asleep, you may move the crate close to your bedroom so that you can hear him when he starts whining for a potty break.
Infographic II–How to potty train a dog fast
7 Don’ts of Crate Training
From the Crate to the Elimination spot
Every morning, lead your puppy out of his crate and before he tries to do anything, rush him to the potty area. If you there are stairs, it will be nice of you to carry your dog down the stairs.
For outdoor training, when you get outside, ensure he is on a leash, to prevent distraction. Take him to the elimination area and stand with him until he potties.
When he’s done, pet and reward him with treats As much as possible, do not allow any unnecessary movement around, he should not be too free to explore other areas around the elimination area. This will help your dog recognize that particular spot.
If he does not pee or poop after 5 minutes, take him back to the crate and let him stay there for another 10-15 minutes. Repeat the process by taking him out again, until he potties. Initially, it may be boring, especially while waiting for him to potty. Always reward your dog whenever he eliminates at the right spot.
How long should your dog stay in the Crate?
You can crate a puppy of eight weeks old or less, for two-three hours during the day. In general, you can crate a puppy during the day, for the same number of hours as his age in months (plus additional 1 hour). For instance, a four-month-old puppy can be crated for 4-5 straight hours, as long as he does not drink too much water before going into the crate.
SECTION 4: SCHEDULE POTTY BREAKS
Dog “poop signs” to Watch Out for
Usually, dogs show some signs or display body language when it’s time to off-load. Such signs or body language include the following.
- Rising of tail
- Running around in circle
- Sniffing the floor, carpet or ground, in search of the right place
- Restless pacing
- Movement out of the playing area
Immediately you notice any of these signs, put your dog on a leash and go straight to the “elimination area” outside or “toilet spot” inside. If he starts peeing, stop him by pointing and saying “outside” or “toilet” in a firm voice.
When should you expect your Dog to pee and poop?
You don’t have to be a genius to know this! This is because there is 90-100% chance that a dog will answer the call of nature at certain times, including the following:
First thing in the morning
After drinking water: Try to take your puppy or dog outside, 10-20 minutes after drinking a lot of water. If you want your dog stay through the night without frequent potty breaks, do not give water about 1 hour before the last potty break of the day. For example, if you intend to take your dog out by 9 pm (for the last potty trip), do not give water as from 8 pm.
After every meal
After a nap
While playing or after
After a drink
Before he sleeps at night
After having fun or engaging in an exciting activity
After seeing another dog pee
At this point, you should begin to see potty training as a “serious business” because there is a tendency for your pooch to potty almost at every time of the day; whether morning, afternoon or evening. You should also note that the frequency at which your dog eliminates depends on the age.
For puppies between 6 to 8 weeks of age, you should expect it every 30 minutes. Larger breeds within this age range, do it every 45 minutes. For puppies between 8 to 12 weeks of age, expect it everyone and a half hours, 12-16 weeks (two hours), and for puppies between 16 to 20 weeks, expect it about every three hours.
PLEASE NOTE: Small breeds require more frequent visits, because of their small bladder.
Although the figures above may not work for every dog, they give you an idea of how frequently your dog will eliminate. Always remember that every puppy or dog is different! With time, you can easily predict the exact time for your dog. However, expect your pooch to poop and pee 3-5 times a day!
SECTION 5: TRAIN YOUR DOG TO POOP AND PEE ON COMMAND
How to train your Dog to pee and poop on Command
One of the keys to effective housetraining, is to train your dog to poop and pee on command. Take him to the spot and say the command phrase. Some dogs are well trained to the extent that they go to the potty area on their own. Training your dog to potty on command can help a lot! Consider these scenarios
- If you were to travel by flight with your dog, and the next opportunity for him to poop will be in the next 6 hours. You can allow your dog empty his bowels before take-off, provided he has been trained to eliminate on command.
- During winter or rainy season, you can prevent your dog from having a taste of the “unfriendly” weather by telling him to go potty quickly (after saying the command). Again, you won’t have to stand outside for long.
- Providing your dog’s fresh urine sample (to your vet) becomes easier if you can get your dog to pee on command.
That being said, getting your dog to eliminate on command isn’t as difficult as you may think. However, you must choose the cue phrase appropriately. You may decide to use a single cue like “go potty” to for both poop and pee. On the other hand, you may choose two different cues . In this case, you have to teach a command first, then the other.
Command your dog to pee, by saying “go pee” and to poop, by saying “go poop.” The cue(s) should be as short as possible (You want to give a command and not tell a story). Finally, follow these simple steps to train your dog to eliminate on command.
- Figure out the likely period he needs a potty break. (This has been discussed earlier in this article.) However, the three very likely periods are; very early in the morning, after drinking water and after playing
- Take your dog to the elimination area (with a leash on) and say the cue word “go potty”, “go pee-pee” or whatever phrase you choose. Wait for him to poop or pee while you repeat the phrase few times again.
- After he does the business, play with him and REWARD him with treats (This is very important). If he likes to sniff the area for few seconds, please allow that. However, if he does not feel like pottying, take him back to the crate
- Repeat this for few weeks and always reward his obedience
Here is a cool, short video that summarizes everything
SECTION 6: TACKLE HOUSETRAINING PROBLEMS
In conclusion, as important as housetraining is, it is also challenging! A supposedly housetrained dog may start to misbehave for reasons not known to you! Your dog may start to show some unwanted behaviour, such as eating its poop (Coprophagia). However, that is not the end of everything! Seek help as soon as you face challenges. Talk to a dog trainer or visit dog training forums to learn how people who faced similar problem solved it. To start with, here are answers to common housetraining problems. Feel free to go through them; they can be helpful.
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