House-training a Dog

Dog resting in dog bed

*Information adapted from Best Friends Animal Society*

Dogs don't automatically know what is expected of them. You'll have to teach your new dog what is acceptable in your home. Establishing a predictable routine is one of the keys to house-training.

Setting a daily schedule

For the first couple of weeks, your new dog should be supervised in the home. When you are unable to supervise them, you can keep them in a crate or small, easy-to-clean room, such as a bathroom. Your dog should consider this a safe place, so add their food, water, bed and things to chew on in this space. Keep children away from this space.

Establish a schedule of walking your dog on a leash to where you would like them to eliminate. Do this after meals, naps and every few hours in between. Avoid playing with your dog during these times, and once they have eliminated, offer praise or a treat.

After a week or so of no accidents, you can start allowing your dog more freedom in the home —still with supervision. Watch for signs of needing to eliminate, such as circling or sniffing corners.

House-training puppies

Puppies can't "hold it" for more than a few hours. If you must be away for more than two or three hours, you'll need someone to walk the puppy for you.

If you're training your puppy to eliminate on paper or pads, make sure the space is large enough to include a sleeping area away from where they eliminate. Keep in mind that eliminating in this space may continue to be a preference as the puppy grows up, so they may not want to eliminate outdoors.

How to respond to accidents

If you catch your dog in the act, stop them and escort them to the appropriate spot. If you find the accident after the fact, don't punish the dog because they won't understand why you are punishing them.

Instead, clean up the mess using an enzymatic cleaner. Otherwise the dog will continue smelling the urine and continue eliminating in the inappropriate place. If possible, move the mess to the desired elimination spot to encourage your dog to go there.

There is a difference between accidents and marking territory. Neutering your dog early will help reduce his inclination to mark. However, if your dog is already house-trained but begins having accidents, consult your veterinarian in case there is a medical issue.