The Basics of Housebreaking

Housebreaking Basics

Getting a new puppy or dog is exciting! What isn’t so exciting? Housebreaking. Unless you adopt an older dog that is already impeccably housebroken, there will be some degree of work to be done to prevent house soiling. While the techniques with puppies vary slightly from those used with adult dogs, the basic principals remain the same.

Especially with puppies, crate training can be an excellent tool. Keeping a crate near your bed allows you to hear when the puppy stirs, helping avoid overnight accidents. Remember to take your puppy out to go the bathroom the moment he wakes up in the morning, after eating, playing and after naps. In addition, a good rule of thumb is that your puppy can, under ideal conditions, wait their age in months plus 2 between eliminations. For example, your 2 month old puppy can “hold it” for 4 hours. If you are going to be gone for more than 4 hours, your puppy WILL have an accident. Also, keep all interactions positive, praising and rewarding appropriate eliminations. DO NOT use negative training methods such as swatting or rubbing their nose in it. This will only confuse your puppy and make housetraining all the more difficult. In addition, more serious behavior problems can result from negative reinforcement training of any kind, so just avoid it in general.

With adult dogs, the same general rules apply, with the exception that they should be able to wait longer between eliminations that a growing puppy. Setting a schedule as outlined above will also help adult dogs. Positive reinforcement is again key, and figuring out what “currency” your dog operates on will speed training. Some dogs are very food motivated or motivated by a certain toy. Make sure your dog is excited about the reward and praise they get from appropriate eliminations. Fostering excitement in your dog and harnessing his desire to please can result in more rapid housebreaking. Crates can be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to adult dogs, as they may not take to them as easily as a puppy does. For more information on crate training, check out our “Crate Training” blog.

Each animal is an individual and you will need patience and a positive attitude to help your furry friend through this process.

If you need more information, don’t hesitate to call Ridgewood Animal Hospital at 434-525-2111 and one of our technicians or doctors will be happy to assist you.