Dog TrainingHow-To Dog Articles

How to Housebreak Your Dog Without Breaking Your Home


Though it may not seem like it sometimes, especially when they are a puppy, dogs have a natural instinct to keep their living space clean — especially in close headquarters. Learning how to housebreak your dog with some help from you, through patient and gradual housebreaking, will help your dog learn happily how to do their business outside. This will not only improve the health and happiness of your dog, but also preserving the cleanliness of your home. The housebreaking process can be a messy business—expect several accidents to happen before your puppy or dog gets it—but it doesn’t have to destroy your home or your relationship with your dog.

housebreak your dog
Photo by Nancy Houser

Set Your Dog Up For Success

Keep your eye on your dog whenever it is free to wander around the house, even in the back of your head! When you first wake up in the morning, take your dog outside immediately. You may have to wait a long time these first few mornings for your dog to pick up on what it’s supposed to do, so bring a book or lawn chair with you when you venture outside. After the dog does its business, you can bring it back in, play with it or just go about your own tasks, always keeping an eye on it.

Take your dog outside after rowdy play, before and after you feed it, and every time it wakes up, as well as any time it appears restless and is acting like it may want to go outside. As your dog ages, it will be able to go for longer periods of time between trips outside to toilet. But from the beginning, training your dog to go outside involves repetition, repetition, and repetition in order for it to know the housebreaking routine and where to go.

To Housebreak Your Dog, Put Him or Her on a Schedule

Feed your dog two or more times a day, depending on its age and breed, at the same time every day. As puppies, let them eat their fill at a feeding, while, as adults, they need measured amounts at each daily feeding.  Leaving food down all the time makes it difficult to get your dog’s digestive system on a schedule. A young puppy will need to go out every two or three hours, while an older puppy can go up to six hours between trips outside. Of course, this will depend on the dog!

There are exceptions of course. Initially, you want to take your dog out more frequently, but some puppies can go for a longer stretch overnight, because they are inactive and asleep. Schedule in multiple short periods of playtime or walking on a leash each day, as a tired pup is less likely to get into trouble.

Clean-Up Your Dog’s Accidents Immediately

Accidents are normal and to be expected during the housetraining process. No shame should be involved in this process. Clean them up quickly and never punish your dog. When you see the situation, firmly say, “No” and gently place the dog outside. Timing is vital, as most dogs will not remember an accident they had later on. They will look guilty if you are angry, but will not understand why. Timing is critical and the quality of reprimanding is vital when housebreaking your dog!

Do this repeatedly, with each accident that occurs, for as long as it takes remembering that each dog is unique. Some will take longer than others to housetrain and others will learn quickly.  Leaving a mess for too long will communicate to your dog that the home is an acceptable place for them to go. Wipe up any mess with a paper towel, then clean the area with an enzyme cleaner. This will remove any residual odor which may make your dog more inclined to return to the same spot again. Use several layers of paper towels to soak up any messes on upholstered items before using the enzyme cleaner.

If there are areas of your home you don’t want to risk accidents in, use baby gates to block access to that area. Prompt cleanup is the best way to prevent stains, lingering odors, and the encouragement of bad habits. Your role in housebreaking your dog is what will guarantee success and how long it will take.

Remember, with gentle patience, firmness, and consistency, you can housetrain your puppy or dog in no time. All dogs are different, so yours may learn faster or slower than others—don’t be discouraged if it takes them a while to adapt to the training! Once a dog is housebroken, they will let you know when they need to go outside and your home will be accident-free for years to come!

Informational credit for this article to My Carpet Cleaner

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