Welcome to the sixth post in our Dog Training blog series. This ongoing series features guest posts by local professional dog trainers and highlights some of the big questions they address to their clients. Today's post was written by Adam Miller of Big Dog Canine Behavioral Dog Training.
Dog owners need to understand that housebreaking can take longer with some dogs, especially smaller breeds since they have smaller bladders and need to relieve themselves more frequently. Most dogs actually have little or no control over their bladders until at least four months of age and it is not unheard of to have a dog that can take up to a year to completely housebreak. Certain breeds are also known for being tough to housebreak.
Housebreaking is established through patience, diligence, and perseverance. Always remember that mistakes will happen and each dog will learn at their own pace - some just take longer than others. Stay positive, stick to your routine and have confidence that all your hard work will pay off.
If you catch your dog making a mistake in the house, do not rub your dog’s face in it and scold them. Instead, let them know that you disagree with the behavior and immediately take them outside. Praise them if they finish any of their business after you have taken them out of the house. Under no circumstances should you reprimand or punish your dog if you do not catch them in the act. If you discipline your dog “after the fact”, your dog will not understand why they are being corrected and it will confuse your dog.
Tips of Housebreaking
Be consistent. Dogs really like routines and are happier when they know what to expect.
Set up a solid routine with your dog as soon as possible. On average, a dog can hold their bladder for 1 hour per month of age.
Learn to read your dog’s body language in order to pick up the “cues” your dog uses when he/she has to go to the bathroom.
Be proactive. Make sure to take your dog out after every meal, upon waking, after playtime or after training sessions.
Go to the same spot for bathroom breaks and praise them for doing their business. Do not start praising, walks or playtime until after they have finished going to the bathroom.
Start marking the bathroom breaks with a phrase or word like “do your business” or “go potty”. This way you can ask your dog if they need to go to the bathroom and you can also encourage the behavior once outside.
Make a schedule for feeding and watering and stick to it. Remove you dog’s water at nighttime so they don’t fill up with water right before going to bed.
Keep your dog near you and under your supervision at all times during housebreaking training. You can either tether them near you or use a playpen.
Crate train your puppy. Crate training is a great way to control a young dogs bathroom habits.
Thoroughly clean up all bathroom mishaps a few times with an enzyme based product. I like to use Nature’s Miracle, which can be found at most pet supply stores.
Keep at it and it will pay off. There is no magical cure for housebreaking. It just takes consistent and persistent work. A few months of patience, understanding and consistency for a lifetime of enjoyment is a small price to pay.
This post was written by Adam Miller of Big Dog Canine Behavioral Training. For more information or to learn how Adam can help with your dog needs, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.