The most common eMail question I receive is How to House Train a Dog. Recent columns on relationships and training skills will help but let’s handle the basics.
Keep food in your pocket. Every time your puppy (or adult dog) eliminates on grass or dirt, pay her. Yes, with food. And not by standing in the kitchen and waiting until she comes back in. Go with her. Even if it’s dark, cold and raining.
If your dog likes to be outside, play with her before going back inside. Remember, you don’t want her compliance with your rule to eliminate outside to signal the end of the walk. However, if your dog hates it outside, then rush in when she does what you want.
The best way to manage an untrained dog or puppy is to keep her on a leash indoors until she’s trained. If she attempts to eliminate inside, act horrified and scoot her outside before she can finish. Then you’ll know she has to go and all you have to do is wait her out. When she finishes outside, reward BIG.
The biggest mistake during house training is caused by not supervising at all times. When you act horrified over an accident, a dog may:
1. avoid eliminating in front of humans, ever again, which will make standing outside waiting a fruitless endeavor for you.
2. learn to sneak away when you least expect it making it very hard to catch her in the act so you can appear horrified.
Both errors are completely eliminated by tethering your dog to your person until training is complete. Obviously you need a plan for sleeping which is what the potty safe zone is for. A potty safe zone is most often affected by the use of a dog crate.
She will have to pee, eventually. And when you are there to say “awesome” because it’s on grass and “I never!” if it isn’t she will be cool.
You could go the extra mile and put jingle bells on a door and pick up her foot and ring them on your way out. Purists will teach the high five then ask for the behavior before taking her out rather than lower themselves to the short cut of moving her foot for her but these are cult people.
And the pièce de résistance is to name any elimination “hurry up” while she is engaged so you can elicit the behavior at will.
If you never used a crib for your baby because it seems like a cage, you may not be big on crate training. But if you consider that it’s a temporary tool, that most dogs will go the vet someday and you don’t want your dog to freak out if she has to be in a crate someday, you’ll see why so many dog owners use one. It’s also a plus when you travel or in an emergency because hotels and shelters do not accept loose pets. May as well introduce it properly now. So give her treats in there. Put toys in there. Put it in your room and let her sleep in there. Then you can keep her safe while you sleep. It’s also a good way to keep her from having one of those potty training issues listed above.
Note: Please put her in the crate ten times per day for no reason. If you only put her in there when you go to bed or leave the house, the crate will come to mean…no more you. She won’t like that.
Since you always have food in pockets, never leave clothes on floor or ..no more pockets. For some excellent choices of treats your dog has not seen before, check out Barkley’s in Alexandria.
Here is the pedantic version on pethelp.