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How to Successfully Housetrain a Dog

Part of the Housetraining For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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.

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