Adult Dog Housebreaking Step by Step
Teaching your adult dog housebreaking basics is much the same as
training a young puppy. An older dog may develop housebreaking
problems in a stressful environment or a new home, and it is
possible that an adult dog was never housebroken in the first
Pet owners who acquire dogs from humane societies or animal
shelters may find that they end up with adult dogs that are not
housebroken. Training a dog to eliminate out of doors is a
similar process regardless of the dog’s age.
Step 1 – Establish an Appropriate Location and Time
Dogs of all ages thrive on routine, and it is important to
establish a pattern in order to help your dog recognize when and
when not to eliminate. Always take a new dog to a particular
spot in the yard or area surrounding your house when you would
like him to eliminate. You can further help to establish a
routine pattern by encouraging him to eliminate outside at
designated times of day. After waking up, before going to bed
and before or after a mid-day meal are common times.
Step 2 – Praise Good Behavior and Punish Quickly
Reinforce your dog’s developing elimination behavior by
praising and rewarding him for successfully eliminating outside.
Use verbal praise and food rewards, but be sure to praise your
dog while he is still outside. Giving him praise even more than
a few seconds after the act will not serve any function, as dogs
cannot successfully associate rewards after the fact.
Similarly, punish your dog promptly and gently when he has an
accident indoors. The critical thing to remember is that you
should only reprimand your dog if you catch him in the act of
eliminating, as delaying a punishment will only contribute to
your dog’s sense of fear or anger.
Scold your dog gently and do not frighten him. If possible,
startle your dog in order to interrupt his eliminating, and then
take him outside to finish. Be sure to praise him if he
successfully finishes outdoors.
Step 3 – Supervise Your Dog
Unsupervised dogs are much more likely to eliminate indoors
than dogs under constant supervision. While you are at home,
keep a careful eye on your dog during the housebreaking training
period. This will discourage him from eliminating indoors as he
begins to develop a sense that such an act is “wrong,” and it
will simultaneously afford you the opportunity to praise or
reprimand him promptly.
Additionally, keep your dog confined in a familiar space
while you are out of the house or unable to watch him. A canine
crate is an excellent choice, although a small, enclosed room
will work as well. This further discourages the dog from
eliminating indoors, as most dogs will not defecate in an
enclosed area where they are trapped.
It is important to remember that every dog makes a mistake on
occasion. When this happens, clean up the mess and continue to
show your pet affection. These situations often come about when
your dog is under stress, so becoming angry at your dog may only
make matters worse.
Follow these steps to train (or retrain) your dog and to keep
your home clean and your family happy.
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