- House Training Your Dog -
by Mark Bensen
One of the most confusing and anxiety-ridden areas of dog training is house training. Yet, it is one of the most important, especially for the humans involved.
The best way to understand and find success with house training is to use the dog's own nature to help you.
Dogs are, by instinct, very clean animals. They would rather not soil any areas where they normally sleep or eat. Dogs are also creatures of habit --- they like to know where they're supposed to go urinate and defecate. If the dog is taught to
eliminate on gravel or concrete, they will tend to look for either of those surfaces to do so. If they're taught to eliminate on grass or dirt, that's where they will choose. Use these habits to your advantage.
Setting up the training area
This is the first step. Make sure the area you choose is small and confined. A bathroom works for this, or a place in a kitchen or garage also work well. Remember that crate training works well for puppies or small dogs, but for the larger
animals, the crate is too confining. You need to spend some time with this aspect of the training. You need to play with your dog in this area, and this is also where the dog will be taught to sleep and eat. Put together a special bed. This can be something you make up with items around the house, or you can go to the store and purchase a
bed. Don't worry of your dog eliminates in this area at first. Once they figure out that this is where the sleep and eat, they'll stop eliminating there.
Once your dog realizes that the bed is for sleeping, you can begin to move it around the house. But, only when you're there. When you're not, put the bed back in the training area.
Setting up the toilet area
Now you need to determine where the toilet area is going to be located. Presumably, this will be outside the house. Wherever it is, it has to a place that the dog can go to whenever it needs to go. You need to go there with your dog so you can give
the appropriate rewards for good behavior. Establish a set feeding schedule for your dog. If the dog is in the habit of being fed at certain times, the natural process of
elimination will also begin to occur at certain times. Once you learn when those times relate to the eating times, it will become much easier for you to guide the dog to the established toilet area. Don't forget to make sure your dog has ready access to the toilet area. That way mistakes aren't as likely to occur.
Continuing the house training process
Once your dog is in the habit of eliminating in the toilet area and not in the sleeping/eating area, you can begin to extend the training area to the rest of the house. Do this slowly. Start by expanding to one additional room, and then gradually expand into other areas. Don't expand into new areas until you're sure your
dog has control of its bladder and bowels. At first, do this only when you're around. If you're away, then put your dog back in the original training area.
Speeding up the process
If you have to move this process along more quickly, you can do so. Remember to proceed with caution, though. It's better to go slowly than to have to try to retrain a dog later. If you're going to try to speed things up, you will have to be there in
order to reward your dog for successful eliminations. It is also important not to punish for mistakes. That will only confuse the dog and slow the process even further.