House training can be one of the easiest or one of the hardest parts of puppy raising. If done correctly, a puppy can learn to potty outside within a weeks’ time. This also goes for the recent rescue dog who, at 4 years old, may have never been taught to go to the bathroom outside. Or for the dog you’ve had for years who learned to use a doggie door at a young age, but due to a recent move, you no longer have a backyard the dog can visit at their free will. The method remains the same under all circumstances.
The use of a crate for supervision and confinement will help the dog learn that when indoors, they are not to relieve themselves. The crate becomes their den, safe place, a room of their own in your house. They should be familiar sleeping in the crate and spending time their when they cannot be supervised. Instinctually, dogs will not dirty their dens, being that they spend a decent amount of time in there. At first, the dog may not be able to hold their bladder through the whole night, so they may have a 3am potty break, but in time, they will learn to hold their bladders up to 8 hours through the night. You may feed your dog in their crate to get them comfortable with the space, but refrain from leaving food or water in there for extended periods of time. NEVER use the crate for punishment as this will undo the hard work it takes to get your dog comfortable with the space. Also, take all collars off your dog when they will be spending time in their crate.
Scheduling is the second most important part of house training. If you can schedule when food and water goes in, you can predict when it will need to come out. Try to schedule your dog to 2 or 3 meals a day, allowing water during those meals and after play sessions. Avoid from free feeding or allowing your dog to graze at their food all day and excessive amounts of treats. Be conscious of their water consumption as well, as this can lead to frequent urination. When it’s time to go out for a potty break, go with your dog to be sure they “get busy” and take care of number 1 and 2. Pick up water at least an hour before bedtime and always allow your dog a final bathroom break 15-20 minutes before they go in their crate for the night.
Remember that you can only discipline your dog if you catch them in the act and PLEASE don’t rub their noses in the mess that they may have made hours prior. They don’t have a clue why you’re doing that. Rush them outside where they can finish and you can praise them with a “Good Boy/Girl” for it. Be sure to clean the mess (on carpet, wood floor, tile, etc.) with an enzymatic based cleaner for best results.
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