Housebreaking Shouldn’t Be That Hard!
Housebreaking is generally one of the first things new dog owners try and teach their dogs. Nobody wants a dog peeing inside their house and ruining their hardwood floors, carpet, or furniture! Having a dog that isn’t housebroken properly can be one of the most frustrating issues dog owners deal with.
Often, people assume that older dogs or dogs who keep making messes simply can’t unlearn their bad behavior. These dogs are sadly frequently left at shelters, re-homed, or kept outside. But it is actually not uncommon for older dogs to struggle with housebreaking and dogs are always still capable of learning—no matter how old!
Here’s how to get your puppy or dog housebroken the right way:
Dogs do best when they have some kind of routine around meals and potty breaks. Consistent, controlled feeding will help you regulate how much food your dog consumes. Water should also be closely monitored. You shouldn’t restrict water to just feeding times, but you should have an idea of when your dog has had a big drink. What goes in must come out!
You also want to schedule regular times for them to go outside and go to the bathroom. Usually, dogs need to be let out first thing in the morning and right before bed, after eating, and after exercise or play time.
During housebreaking, dogs should be crate trained or heavily supervised. If you’re using a crate, it should be big enough for the dog to comfortably turn around and lie down in. But no bigger! The right-sized crate will help your dog learn to use self-control. Always be sure the crate is a positive experience for the dog and not associated with punishment.
If your dog is not being kept in a crate, it’s important to keep a close eye on the dog so you can prevent them from having an accident. Block access to rooms where you can’t see them and keep them on a leash so they can’t slink away and go in the house. Keeping the dog on a leash and next to you, especially in the beginning, can also help cement a bond between the two of you that will only make further training easier.
For most dogs, consistent scheduling and close supervision is all you need for housebreaking. However, some dogs may have anxiety or excitement-induced accidents. Others may have had a traumatic experience that will render things like crate training more difficult. In those situations, more training needs to be done to remove a sense of fear or anxiety, develop a calm energy, or modify past behavior.