Housebreaking your dog is one of the most important things to teach him or her, and one of the most trying aspects of training. Having to constantly clean up your pet’s mess can be stressful, especially if you are trying to housebreak an older dog, but consistency and positive reinforcement can go a long way in teaching your dog where to ‘go.’
First, you must decide where it is you want your dog to relieve himself. Choosing a specific spot in the yard will move the process along quickly, as he will recognize the smells and know that is where he has gone potty before. You must also do your best to maintain a schedule with your adult dog or puppy. If your dog knows that you will be taking him outside at specific times, such as first thing in the morning or right after mealtimes, he will begin to wait until you take him outside rather than immediately looking for a place to go.
If you catch your dog relieving himself in the house, firmly tell him, “NO,” and immediately take him outside to his designated spot. It is very important to take your dog outside as soon as you catch him going in the house. If you wait until you clean up the mess, or if you don’t take him outside when you catch him, he will not understand that he is supposed to go potty outside. By correcting the behavior as it happens, this positively reinforces relieving himself outside. By being proactive rather than punishing him, you will avoid making your dog fearful of going to the bathroom. If you punish him for accidents, he may become confused and fearful and hide somewhere in the house to ‘go,’ making housebreaking more difficult. The same principal applies if you go into a room and find that your dog has gone potty in the house – scolding him will be counterproductive. Your dog will not understand why you are yelling at him, as he has already forgotten that he has gone in the house. Rather than punishment, be proactive!
Use your dog’s natural instincts to show him where he should go potty. Take your dog’s inside accidents and put them outside. Your dog will be attracted to the smell and he will want to go where it seems he has relieved himself before. When your dog goes potty outside, praise, praise, praise!
Remember that accidents happen, but if your dog is having accidents at random intervals or not showing any signs before relieving himself in the house, be sure to rule out any underlying problems by taking him to the vet. Also, remember it is always okay to ask for help! Enrolling in the “How Dogs Learn” seminar at Bed and Biscuit Austin can help you understand your dog’s behavior and how he learns.
Housebreaking may take time and patience is key, but by remaining consistent and being proactive any dog of any age can be housebroken!
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