How to Housebreak Your New Puppy
First Things First
Let me just say right from the start,
a dog can be one of the most trying
tasks I can
think of. I just don't get it. For some dogs, this is one of
things for them to learn. However, there are just as many dogs on the
other end of the spectrum that can bring you to the breaking point.
wonder if they will ever understand what you are trying to teach them.
But have patience my friend, they will get it - eventually.
Much of the success of the housebreaking process
rests on your shoulders. In my opinion, housebreaking a dog is best
done with a young puppy. The process takes diligence and patience. It
also takes a compassionate, understanding heart, if you expect to walk
out of this with loyalty and respect from your dog. This is
those learning seasons that can make or break the relationship you have
with your new pet. The first thing you have to understand is that your
dog wants to please you, but he also has to understand what it is that
you are wanting him to learn. This may seem obvious to you (especially
after the first 100 times), but apparently, it's not so
obvious to him -
Be understanding. I have
seen people absolutely terrify a dog over this housebreaking ordeal -
to the point where the dog cowers
at the owner's presence when they walk into the room. This kind of
behaviour from you can lead to harsh and mixed signals to the dog. You
are the one they are supposed to rely on, the one they are
to trust with all their heart. You are their safe haven. If this trust
breaks down, you may find that you indeed have an obedient
dog, but you
lost a dear friend.
Use the Crate Luke (in the words of Obi-Wan
If you have read my article on Crate Training,
then you will know that I am a big fan of the crate. Crate training a
dog is good for many
reasons and carries many benefits. One of which is that it is a place
where you can put him to take
naps (and then you can take one too). Puppies need frequent naps
and you will soon see that they take them liberally. If you are
following my suggestions about crate training, then you are putting
little Rover down for a nap several times a day, whether he wants to or
Dogs learn best by repitition and here is one
that you can use in your favor. When it's nap time, always
take him outside to
give him the opportunity to do his business before you put him to bed.
as soon as he wakes up from his nap, or when you decide to let him out
of the crate, he needs to be taken out. You should
always take him
out the same way. You should let him see how you are getting to the
door, so that this path becomes a repetitive path that is engrained in
his mind. You want
to make sure he knows how to find the door.
Create the Verbal Link
When you get him outside, you
should take him to the same spot each time. You also need to come up
phrase that he can associate with what he is doing - a verbal link that
will help his mind trigger on what you are wanting him to do.
We have two of
them and they are quite simple. "Jasper - go Tee Tee" and "Jasper - be
and go Poo Poo". The "be still" part was added by my wife because
Jasper tends to do a lot of trotting around when he's trying to find
the perfect place to do his business. The wonderful thing is that he
knows just what each phrase means, and when he hears them he will
do them on command (he has been known to fake it though, just to get us
off his back). Learning to go on command takes time.
It took Jasper many months for all this to click in,
Jasper is an inside dog. The only time
that he is allowed outside is to use the bathroom, or to go for walks.
So, he know that when he is put on his runner, it is usually
for one reason - to go to the bathroom. Sometimes we will
leave him on it for a while to run a little, or enjoy the outdoors, but
he knows that the first item of business is to use the bathroom.
I suggest that until your dog is housebroken, you don't mix
the two together. Go outside to play, or go outside to go to
the bathroom, but not both together. Use the commands, or
your keywords you've chosen for this action. When
through, praise him like you
never have before. I mean make a big deal out of it.
Let him know that this made you very happy and so very proud
of him, then bring him back inside. It will be
easier for him to understand that going to the bathroom is an outdoor
function, if that's all he's allowed to do out there. Don't
worry, there's plenty of life left for outdoor playing after we master
There are a few other key times that you should
him out. First, always take him out after ya'll have been playing. One
of the by-products of work and playfull activity is water, and a young
puppy can work it up quickly. For young puppies, a good 5 to 10 minute
play is usually good enough to earn a trip outdoors.
Another time is
right after he has eaten. For most dogs, the added pressure of a good
meal on his tummy is already pushing his previous meal out
within minutes of finishing. You should be aware of these
times and anticipate his next move. At the beginning of this
process, you need to be thinking ahead. Pick him up after
he's eaten, or stop the playing and take him out. This
anticipation helps set him up for success. When you're first
starting the house breaking process, don't wait on him
to tell you when he needs to go outside. Help him out by
anticipating these times. Sometimes the urges
come too fast for the little fella, and then it's too late.
This failure is your fault. If it happens, don't
yell at him, just move him on outside, clean it up, and get over it.
Pay Attention to Him
As time goes on, you will begin to understand your
little dog more and more. As he begins to understand the outdoor
concept he will no doubt be trying to convey this information to you.
Some dogs will go to the door, others my begin to wander
aimlessly around the room. Jasper will sometimes get up on my
lap and touch his nose to mine. Other dogs whine, and still
some others may just stop and stare at you. Pay close
attention to him and I'm sure you will pick up on this communication.
Be sure to give him the benefit of the doubt.
you've just put him in his crate and he starts to whine or bark.
Take him outside. He may not have to go, but the
one thing it teaches him is that you are aware of his signals.
Now, if after the third time in 5 minutes, you've taken him
out and he still has'nt done anything, then you may ignore him - he
probably just wants to come out. But go through the motions
the first few times to give him the opportunity just in case.
Ring Your Bell
This is my farvorite house breaking method, and
well worth the training. We have made
a way for Jasper to let us know when he has to go outside. We
have a couple of bells
attached to a strap hanging from the back door
we've taught him to ring it whenever he wants to go outside.
works like a charm. We'll be sitting in the livingroom
TV, then all of a sudden we'll hear the bells jingle just a little - we
what it means - it's either Jasper, or one of the cats (they do it
too) wanting to go outside. It first starts with a little
jingle, then if we wait too
long, he really starts wacking at it. This is the greatest
we've taught him. What's good too is that if we go somewhere,
just bring the bells with us. All we have to do is show him
door the bells are hanging from and he takes care of the rest.
training takes some time but it's really not that hard. There
must be some reward involved in it for him to get the ball rolling.
We have some very small, dry, dog treats that we use for
and we only use half of one.
First, when it's time to take
out, we'll carry him to the door. Then we'll say "ring your
and take his little paws and let them make the bells jingle.
we praise him, give him the treat, and then take him outside.
as I've said before, repetition is the key. On top of doing
at all the normal "going outside" times, I set aside a few 2 to 4
minute training sessions per day to teach him to ring his bell for a
treat. I start at the bell and teach him to hit the bell for
treat. Then we will start at further distances from the bell.
First getting him to run and ring the bell from 3 feet away,
then further distances, until he will ring the bell on command from
anywhere in the room (for a treat of course).
Then, when he can do that, I start withholding the treat
until I take him outside - then I give him the treat.
After a while(a long, long, while) he will start
to associate that ringing the bell
que to you to get up and let him out. Sometimes, he sits and
looks at us and we'll say "do you need to ring your bell?" and he'll
tear out to the door and ring the bells. I always reward him
a half a treat for this. I don't want to ruin a good thing,
this is the best.
We make up these training bells and
instructions, along with a starter bag of treats. Please see
Box Products page for information on how to order our House
kit for your dog, or leave us your email address on our Feedback
and we will contact you with the details.
House breaking takes time so be patient.
Most likely, this is not one of those tricks that you can
teach your dog in a couple of sfternoons. I'm
sure you want to get to the point where you can trust your dog
to wander around the house by himself, right? Well, to tell
you the truth, this may takes months. I've read one trainers
guide where he won't let the dog out of his sight unattended within the
first year. In fact, according to his guide, any mistake he
makes in the house within the first year is your fault. I
whole heartedly agree with him.
You are going to have to follow him around (or
keep him with you) so that you can catch him when about to make a
mistake. This is the only way to actively guide him.
He has to associate that function with going outside.
And he has to know that you don't approve of him going
inside. When you see him about to releave himself on your
nice carpit, sound the alarm. It's okay to raise your voice.
Tell him "No, No, No", then pick him up and take him outside.
Don't beat him and scream - yet.
There may come a time when he needs some harsher
scolding, but not yet. I wouldn't resort to that type of
action for many months. He first needs to know that it is
wrong, and he needs to know it well before you start spanking him. When
and if the time should come, then let your bark be bigger than your
bite. Maybe a few pops to his rear end and more than normal
yelling should be adequit. Believe me, he will get the
picture that you are not pleased and he will try to make the proper
Here are a few Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind
during the process.
patient and understanding
the actions and the times when you know he will have to go.
If you guys have been playing, or he has just eaten, don't
put him in his crate and walk away. He is going to have to go
to the bathroom. Take him outside. Don't set him up
consistant. Take him out at regular intervals
through out the day. Take him out before you put him up and
after he wakes up. Take him out after playing and after meals.
to him. Learn his signals. Learn how
he is trying to communicate to you. Also, if he is in his
crate (or where ever you put him up) and he starts whining, don't just
ignore him. Get up and take him outside.
kind and supportive during this process. He has
to learn what you are asking of him.
praise, praise! Let him know when he has done
what he's been asked to do. Reward him and he will be eager
to please you more.
terrify him. This only leads to a
cowed, skiddish dog and stands to lose your chances of having
a good friend. This also has the potentail to make him mean.
ignore him. It does him no good to give you the
signals if you refuse to respond to them
the pad. We have found that training pads
actually invite the dog to relieve himself on anything that looks
similar. You need to teach him that outside is the aceptable
place - not newspapers, rugs, and magazines.
leave him alone. If your not watching him to
make the correction and guide him then he may start relieving himself
in the house and not know its wrong.
In conclusion, be consistent, be understanding, and
above all, be patient.
As I said in the beginning, housebreaking can be one of the
trying tasks you and your dog face, but remember to face the task
together. It may take some time, but you can use this
event to be one that will help solidify the bond between you and your