Teach You To Train Your Dog

House Breaking

House breaking or Potty Training your dog is not strictly a part of obedience training, however I want to include some discussion about it here because it will help in future training of your dog.

Many people get new puppies and adopt older dogs and need to house break them. It is important to remember they are dogs, not humans, and don't view going to the bathroom in the same way humans do. We have been conditioned that urinating and defecating in the house is nasty and disgusting. For dogs this is not true. It is true they don't naturally want to potty where they sleep. There does need to be a meeting of the minds between us and dogs as to where it is acceptable to do this deed.

Personally, I have in recent years always had a 'doggy door' in my house so potty training has been extremely easy as it provides my dogs constant access to the outside. The outside is where a dog will prefer to do it's business. Remember they don't want to go where they sleep. This option is not available to many people because they live in apartments or simply don't want to install a 'doggy door'.

There are two commonly used techniques for potty training, Potty Pads and Crate Training. I, personally and not a big fan of crates and the potty pads are confusing for the dog if you eventually want your dog to relieve itself outside.

There really are no 'quick fixes' when training your dog. Let me explain, it all begins when you bring your new dog home. Dogs don't move to a new home the way humans do. When a human gets a new home we pack everything we own into our car or moving van, and go to the new location and immediately start unpacking our stuff into the new house. We have the added advantage of knowing in advance that we are moving and have probably scoped out the house and the neighborhood before we ever make the move. Dogs don't move or migrate that way. They will get up in the morning and start walking. They are looking for food and comfortable, safe, surroundings.

When people get a new dog they are, and rightfully so, excited about getting the dog home and introducing him to his new home and friends. He is taken directly from the car to the house and plopped down. There is a lot of commotion as he is introduced to the rest of the family and friends. The dog has probably been anxious and confused about the whole experience, which has probably been pretty traumatic from his point of view. Now as he goes about sniffing and learning about the place where he is now there is a lot of noise and many distractions which are adding to his anxiety. So what should you do?

When taking your new dog, or even your current dog, to a new home you should first let him walk around the neighborhood and the outside area of the house. After all this is where you will want him to relieve himself. Let him at least partially experience the 'natural' moving process of dogs. Let him get used to the new surroundings. While this is going on he will probably relieve himself outside. When he does praise him for doing what it is you wanted him to do in the first place!

House breaking can take a couple of weeks so you need to be patient and consistent with this process and the praise you give your new dog. Puppies will usually go to the bathroom within 30 minutes after eating (see Feeding Your Dog). Now this will, of course, vary with the dog. The important thing you need to do is to take your puppy outside, or to the place where you want him to go and wait patiently for him to relieve himself. Once he does praise him. Over time he will learn to go where you want him to go. When you are outside with him you can 'encourage' his going to the bathroom with some physical activity. Dogs will go to the bathroom after walking, running, playing, or some type of physical activity. Once he has done his business you can reward him with some play time. Some trainers will tell you to take him back inside once he has used the restroom. The idea being he has done the command and that is that. I believe the play time will teach him to use the restroom so his reward is some quality time with you.

If you take him outside several minutes after he as had is meal and he doesn't go to the bathroom, take him back inside and watch for the tell tale signs that he is ready to go. He will start sniffing the floor, walking around quickly, and so forth. It won't take you long to learn these signs from your puppy. When this starts, take him back outside to the place where you want him to relieve himself and wait patiently. He will eventually go...he has to. Once he does, praise him and play with him for a few minutes.

When an accident happens in the house, and it will, give a correction with the training collar and take him back outside. DO NOT PUNISH the dog. This is a natural thing for the dog and he does not know he has done something wrong. If you are doing your job correctly the dog would not have made a mistake.

What about nighttime you ask? Again, depending on your dog he may be able to last all night without having to use the restroom. The best comparison is probably a new born baby, some will last all night some will not. Eventually, your puppy, as well as your new born baby, will eventually last through the night. In the early stages of potty training you will want to immediately take your puppy outside to give him a chance to use the restroom. Soon you will be able to determine how quickly you need to take him out. The younger he is, the more quickly you will have to take him outside...your first cup of coffee may have to wait!

On another note, our training techniques don't involve treats for several reasons. Don't give your dog a treat for going to bathroom. This is a command, just like Sit, or Stay. He needs to learn correct behavior. Using the restroom outside is the correct behavior. You can actually give a command when taking your dog outside to use the restroom so he will learn what it is you expect of him. For example, when I take Raji out I use the command 'Good Spot' and she knows that is why we are standing around outside looking bored!

You can use any command you want, 'Good Pee', for example. When you take your puppy outside to relieve himself, continually say 'Good Pee' over and over until he does that and then praise and play. Assuming he needs to 'pee' you can get him to go on command.