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Cheat Sheet

Housetraining For Dummies

Potty-training your puppy or adult dog doesn’t just prevent canine bathroom accidents in your house; housetraining also helps you make sure your dog stays healthy. With the right tools and some potty-training tips and tricks, you and your pup can set the stage for a long and happy life together.

How to Successfully Housetrain a Dog

Housetraining a puppy or adult dog is just a matter of being consistent, paying attention, and following your dog’s instincts about bathroom behavior. Here are some tips to help you housetrain your dog:

  • Choose a dedicated potty spot for your dog. If you have a cloth scented with your dog’s urine, place it on the ground the first time you take your dog out. Scent-marking encourages your dog to go to the bathroom there.

  • Follow an established routine and take your dog to potty after he wakes up in the morning, before and after meals, after playtime, after naps, and at bedtime.

  • Walk him on leash straight to his potty spot and give the prompt or cue you’ve chosen, such as “do your business” or “go potty.”

  • If he doesn’t go within 5 minutes, take him back inside, put him in his crate, and try again in about 15 minutes.

  • When he’s done, praise your dog enthusiastically and give him a tiny treat.

  • Between potty breaks, watch for signs your dog needs to go out — coming to a sudden halt, circling, sniffing in a dedicated manner, or dropping his bottom. If you do see him about to go, distract him and take him to his potty spot as quickly as possible.

  • Confine your dog if you can’t watch him.

Dog Housetraining Tools

Before you can start housetraining your puppy or adult dog, you have to get your home ready. Depending on how you plan to housetrain your dog, here’s a list of equipment you may need to get the job done:

  • Crate: A correctly sized crate is just large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down in.

  • Newspapers or dog litter: These items can serve as crucial components for a housetrainee’s indoor potty.

  • Baby gates: Secure baby gates keep your housetrainee from venturing into areas of your house where you don’t want him to be.

  • Plastic bags: Oblong bags, like those that cover newspapers or enclose loaves of bread, are extremely helpful when picking up dog poop.

  • Pet stain cleaner: A cleaner designed especially for pet stains is essential to cleaning up doggie bathroom accidents.

  • Black light: This handy device helps you find urine stains that elude human detection but serve as invitations for dogs to repeat their bathroom boo-boos.

  • Collar: A flat buckle or snap collar not only provides a place to attach your dog’s leash to but also holds essential identification tags.

  • Leash: A 6-foot-long leash of leather, cotton, or nylon keeps your pooch tethered to you when you take him outdoors to do his business.

  • Doggie door: After your dog is fully housetrained, this item allows him to take himself from inside your house to the outdoor potty in his fenced yard.

  • Fencing: A secure fence that’s 4 to 6 feet high can keep your dog in his yard and keep other dogs out of it.

  • Doggie jacket or sweater: A jacket or sweater keeps your four-legged friend warm when he has to potty outdoors in cold weather.

Training Your Dog to Potty Outdoors

If you’re training your dog or puppy to go to the bathroom outside, the outdoor potty area can be a designated spot in your backyard or wherever you allow your dog to do his business. Here are some housetraining do’s and don’ts to help your outdoor trainee get to know his bathroom manners faster and more effectively:

  • Do set up your dog’s crate before you bring him home.

  • Do choose your dog’s outdoor potty area before you bring him home.

  • Do notice your dog’s pre-potty routine.

  • Do take your puppy out at least every one to two hours when you first bring him home.

  • Do use the same words and take the same route to the potty spot every time you take your dog out.

  • Do praise and treat your dog for using his outdoor potty spot.

  • Do distract your dog if he’s about to unload in the house, and get him outside to his potty place as quickly as possible so he can do his business where he’s supposed to.

  • Don’t punish your dog for having a potty accident.

  • Don’t give your untrained puppy or dog the run of the house unless you’re right there to watch him.

  • Don’t place your dog in prolonged solitary confinement, either in the crate or in your yard.

  • Don’t distract your puppy when he’s eliminating in his potty area.

  • Don’t expect your puppy to hold it all day while you’re at work.

Training Your Dog to Potty Indoors

You may want to housetrain your puppy or adult dog to go to the bathroom in an indoor potty area. A dog potty or dog toilet can be some newspapers spread on the floor, a dog litter box, or some other device located in a designated area of your home. Here are some housetraining tips that make indoor housetraining a breeze:

  • Do consider indoor training if you live in a high-rise apartment, can’t get around easily, and/or have a very small dog.

  • Do consider your needs, your dog’s needs, and your home’s layout when deciding where to put the indoor potty.

  • Do get a crate for your indoor trainee so that he learns to regulate his potty maneuvers.

  • Do use scent and repetition to teach your dog that the indoor potty is the only surface upon which he should take a whiz or make a deposit.

  • Do be patient if you move the potty from outdoors to indoors.

  • Don’t let your puppy roam freely unless you can watch him.

  • Don’t get angry at your puppy for making a mistake; get mad at yourself for giving him a chance to do so.

  • Don’t take your indoor trainee outside for a walk or for playtime until after he’s done his business.

Your Dog’s Housetraining Wish List

Here’s a key housetraining tip: Whether you’re potty-training a puppy or adult dog, the housetraining process works best if you think about how your canine companion thinks, feels, and learns. To get what you want from your dog, you first have to tune in to what your dog wants. Your dog can’t write down items for a wish list, but if she could, here’s what she might say she needs from you to succeed in housetraining:

  • Empathy

  • Optimism

  • Consistency

  • Rewards

  • Attention

  • Love

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