Key to Effective Housetraining is Consistency

Oct 23, 2012

The key to effective housetraining is consistency. Unless you are prepared to devote a certain amount of time, effort, and patience, housetraining efforts will be frustrating. Housetraining a puppy involves four basic steps:

  1. Feed on a schedule: Puppies, as do most animals, possess a reflex called the "gastro-colic reflex." Put simply, when a pup eats a meal, its stomach is stimulated, which in turn stimulates its lower bowels. This is why they usually feel the need to defecate after eating. Because of this reflex, veterinarians recommend that puppies be fed at regular scheduled times (preferably three times daily). Knowing that they will likely need to relieve themselves after eating, you can then take them outside after a meal. Allowing them access to food all day long makes more work for owners since they then have to be prepared to take their pet out every time it eats something.
  2. Take them out: Many dog owners let their pets out, rather than taking them out, and then somehow expect them to figure out on their own what it is they are supposed to do. You  must go out with your pup so that you can be there to praise it when it does the right thing. When should you take your pup outside? Most veterinarians recommend that the puppy be taken out after each meal, but also the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Other times include after naps, if your pup has been alone for awhile, and when it gives you that look. You can sometimes tell when your puppy wants to go out when it circles around, sits or whines at the door, or when it looks anxiously up at you.
  3. Praise when successful: Outdoors, pick one or two "toilet areas" that your dog can associate with toilet functions. When it defecates or urinates, praise it lavishly and then bring it indoors.  In this way, it will associate eliminating outdoors with receiving praise.
  4. Do not punish accidents: If accidents should occur in the house, do not raise your voice, spank the pup, rub its nose in it, or otherwise draw attention to the accident. You wouldn't do this to your child and you shouldn't do it to your pet. Besides that, it only makes matters worse. Instead, ignore the mess, remove the pup from the scene, and then clean up the mess out of sight of the pup. Should you catch your pup in the act, immediately take it outdoors (to the toilet area if possible), let it finish and then praise it. 

If these four steps are followed consistently, housetraining should take no longer than 1-2 weeks. If it takes longer, you can consult your veterinarian for more advice.