How to Housebreak, Housetrain, or Potty Train a Dog

People are always asking me how to housebreak, housetrain, or potty train a dog. (Yes! They All Mean the Same Thing!) If I had a magic wand to potty train a dog, I would be very rich. However, I can help you get your dog to learn what to do, so here’s a basic guide to potty training. Follow it and you will have success. Your dog will learn to go outside, and you will be a happy owner! You need basic equipment: a leash, a collar or harness, a few great-smelling soft treats, and a word that you will say that means “go to the bathroom”.


Potty Training A Dog: Positive Reinforcement


Hook up your dog, and put your supply of treats into a treat bag, fanny pack or your pocket. Do not show them to the dog. (Keep a supply ready and handy to reach in a moment.) You must walk your dog on the leash, regardless of whether you’re walking him in your back yard or near the street. He must be close enough to you so that the instant he does pee or poop you say “Yes!”, or “Good Boy”. Immediately go to him and give him a treat at his nose level. It is crucial to say “Yes” or “Good Boy” at the exact moment that he’s doing what you want. It marks the one behavior you’re trying to teach, and the treat associates the reward with the behavior you’re trying to get him to do. Don’t wait for him to come to you, because then you’re rewarding coming to you, but not the act of going to the bathroom. Swoop down to give the treat at nose level. Giving it to him too slowly, (or holding it up too high), rewards him or her for jumping to get it, not for doing her potty business. Outside, let him sniff in places, or let him go around you in circles, or walk on a path or sidewalk, but give some slow moments for him to actually stop to do it. Be sure to praise!


Potty Training A Dog: Timing Is Everything


Here are the usual times a dog needs to be walked: after they wake up, after they’ve eaten or had a drink, after they’ve had a nap, after they’ve played, had a training session or you’ve had visitors, and after a car ride, plus before they’re to go to bed. What are his signs? Learn your dog’s signal for the need to go out. Not all dogs scratch at or go to doors, bark or cry. It could be that the dog starts to sniff places in the room. You could be sitting and petting your dog and suddenly away she goes to look at something and then comes right back. It could be that his activity level ramps up. Look for something that is a bit odd. Please remember that the dog must be supervised in the rooms he’s confined to in the house until he’s 100% potty trained. By doing this you will learn his sign. If you’re watching tv and your dog goes behind the couch and goes to the bathroom, he doesn’t know that he’s doing something inappropriate! When we don’t observe and miss one of those accidents, it’s considered a lost training opportunity. Be sure to clean up accidents with an enzyme removing product.


One more thing about potty training a dog: learn your dog. Your observations about how he acts and what is unusual will pay off!

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