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Pet Education & Training

Common Behavioral Problems

Potty training

Starting Off On the Right Paw — Housetraining
Even if our shelter’s records show your new canine companion is housetrained, it’s very common for dogs to have housetraining accidents in their new homes as they get used to their new surroundings. Don’t get frustrated or angry — instead, teach Fido what you want! Here are some tips for successful housetraining:

Set up a realistic schedule.

• Puppies need to go out when they wake up, before and after eating, after playing hard, and after naps. The younger the puppy, the more often he will have to eliminate. In general, puppies less than six months old must have a mid-day potty break. They won’t be able to “hold it” all day if you’re at work, so you will need to make sure someone can come home in the afternoon to let your puppy out for a potty break.

• Puppies older than six months will not need as many potty breaks, but in general you should take them out when they wake up, after eating, and before bedtime.

• Adult dogs (one year if small breeds, two years if large and three years if giant) should have at least four potty breaks a day.

• Schedule feeding times. What goes in on schedule comes out on schedule. If you set a regular schedule for feedings, you’ll learn when your dog needs to eliminate, because he’ll start eliminating at about the same time each day. Puppies younger than six months should get three meals a day. Puppies older than six months and adult dogs should get two meals a day. Just put the food bowl down for about 10 minutes. If there’s anything left, take it up until the next scheduled feeding time.

Confine your dog when you can’t supervise him.

• It’s a good idea to not let your new dog have the “run of the house” until you can be sure he will not have accidents, or chew something inappropriate.

• We recommend crate training your new family member. A crate is a safe den, and most dogs will not eliminate in them. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and attention outside the crate, and always make going into the crate a positive experience. You can put it on cue, “Go to kennel” and give your dog a treat when he enters.

Teach your dog where to eliminate.

• Put your dog on a leash. Yes, this means you’ll need to go out with him every time. But once he learns it, you won’t have to do this step anymore. Keep in mind, your dog doesn’t automatically know where he should eliminate. If you don’t accompany him, you won’t be able to teach him anything.

• Take your dog outside to the area where you want him to eliminate. When he starts to go, add a cue, “Go potty” or “Do your business.” Just be sure you use the same cue each and every time. When he finishes, praise him! Do this every time he goes outside, so it becomes habit.

If your dog does have an accident, never use physical punishment.

• If you do, you could actually teach him to hide from you, not eliminate outside. Instead, if you catch him eliminating indoors, use a stern “No” and immediately take him outside to finish. If you don’t catch him in the act, but find the evidence later, it’s too late to yell at him. Instead, just clean up the mess and increase your supervision so he doesn’t have the opportunity to do it again. Be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner — this will more effectively clean the spot so your dog doesn’t smell his scent and return to the spot to eliminate again.

Be patient.

• Your new dog is learning how to be a good family member. Be patient and help him learn your expectations. With consistency, clear communication and patience, you can effectively housetrain your dog.

Housetraining for new dogs and puppies

*Decide where you want your dog or puppy to potty. This could be on pads or a specific area of the yard. Take your dog or puppy to that spot every time you want him or her to eliminate.

*Don’t let the dog or puppy be loose in the house until completely housetrained. You can put the puppy on a leash inside to make it easier to supervise him. You can either keep hold of the leash or tether the leash where you can keep an eye on the dog. DON’T TETHER A DOG WITHOUT SUPERVISION.

*No spanking the dog or rubbing her nose in the mess. It only makes the dog afraid of you and could make the dog fearful of eliminating in front of you, even when the dog is outside.

*If you see the dog or puppy eliminating inside, make a sound to startle the dog to interrupt him, then immediately take the dog to his potty spot. Praise and treat the dog once he has done his business outside.

General Guidelines

1. An adult dog should be taken outside every 1 ½ hours until house trained.
2. A puppy should be taken outside every 30 minutes when awake.
3. A dog or puppy must not be punished for accidents.
4. Clean up accidents with odor-neutralizing products, otherwise they’ll think it’s their bathroom if they continue to smell the pee and poop.
5. Don’t let the dog see you cleaning up waste.
6. Take the dog or puppy out after: Waking up, Getting up from resting, Drinking, Eating, Playing, Training, and Actively sniffing.
7. Once the puppy is accident-free for 14 days in a row, teach him to hold his bladder a little past the time he would usually need to go out by playing with him or using some other distraction.
8. Keep weekday and weekend schedules similar so as not to confuse the dog.
9. When having the dog go outside to potty, have her use the same door and go at the same place in the yard.
10. Don’t assume the puppy has eliminated unless you see her do it.
11. Withhold food and water 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Housetraining schedule

1. Take the puppy or dog to the potty area.
2. If he eliminates in the first 5 minutes, praise and treat him. Stay out another 10 minutes as he may not have emptied himself completely the first time.
3. Provide 30 minutes supervised free time.
4. After 30 minutes, take him outside and repeat the process.
5. If the dog or puppy can’t be supervised, crate her or tether her.

6. If the dog does NOT eliminate in the first 5 minutes, bring her back inside and put her in the crate or in a confined area.
7. Take the dog out every 10-15 minutes until she eliminates.

8. Once you know the dog is about to pee or poop, say your cue words like “Go potty” or “Go pee” as the dog squats or as the dog is eliminating. That will teach the dog to eliminate on cue.