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Best Practices for House Training Your Dog

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New pets have a way of brightening up your home the minute they enter it. This new partnership also comes with some new house rules that may or may not be followed. For example, table legs aren’t chew toys, toilets aren’t drinking fountains, and house plants aren’t restrooms. To ease this sometimes rocky transition with your new pet, we’ve put together some best practices for house-training your dog.

House-Training Your New Dog - Q & A

Did you know that puppies can’t control their bladder for 16 weeks? That means it’s up to you to create structure and consistency as your new pet grows. To aid your efforts, I’ve put together some common questions and answers, along with real-life examples from owners and trainers. May this article be a resource to offer you - and your pet - the best chance of success.

Q: I’ve just bought a puppy and she’s not housebroken. Where do I start?

Getting started with house-training can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ve provided some of your first basic steps to begin house-training your pup.

  • Select a training technique. The techniques we’ll discuss in this article are the crate, paper, or bell house-training methods. Look for those in the next section.

  • Proactively supervise your pup. Watch for cues that she might be ready to eliminate. You might see her sniffing around or hear her whining from her cage. She’ll progress in leaps and bounds the more attentive you are to her cues.

  • Control her diet. Rather than leaving her food and water dishes out all day, put them down for 10-minute intervals during mealtimes. That way, you’ll have a better idea how much she’s consumed, when, and what time she’s likely to need to eliminate next.

  • Dish out loads of praise. Positive reinforcement will show your puppy what she’s doing right. If you find an accident on your floor, don’t rub her nose in it as a punishment. It’s likely she’s already forgotten about the incident and won’t understand your motives.

  • Be consistent. When you choose a house-training technique from the list below or from elsewhere, be as consistent as you possibly can. Set specific times each day to take your puppy outside. Use similar commands. Respond swiftly to cues. These are some ways you’ll help your little canine overcome this challenge.

Training Methods

One of the methods recommended by The American Kennel Club is known as the crate method. Since dogs have a “den instinct,” they naturally find comfort in having a small crate where they can safely eliminate. However, dogs are naturally clean creatures, and will learn to signal you with scratches or whines rather than soil their den. That’s when your proactive supervision comes in handy so that you can act immediately by taking Rover outside.

The paper method is less controlled, but offers puppies the chance to learn potty training habits in a designated area. Place your paper or padding on a hard surface like the linoleum in the kitchen or laundry room rather than carpet. Look for cues like your puppy circling or sniffing and take her out at frequent intervals.

The bell method can be done by placing a bell next to the door leading outside. I recently interviewed dog-owner Matt who trained his Westie to jingle the bell next to their front door when she was 12 weeks old. “Every time we let the dog out we would ring the bells with her nose,” Matt says. “Soon she was ringing them, herself. Now we know when she needs to go out. The hard part in the beginning is letting her out every time she rang them and it was a lot.”

Q: Any best practices I should know about?

Angela Monteith, a professional dog trainer for the last six years and owner of The Empowered Dog, LLC, shared these three tips with Home Reserve:

  1. Set a timer on your smartphone or microwave to help you remember when to take your puppy outside. Most house-training accidents are actually the owner's fault!

  2. Take your dog out on a leash so that you actually know what they are doing. Don't give them an hour to go potty. They need to learn their priority when they first go outside is to potty, not play. Praise, praise, praise when they do go!

  3. NEVER punish a dog for going in the house. That will only make them fear you and more likely to go again. Just calmly take them outside and clean it up. I like to remove any #2 accidents to the yard where I would like the dog to potty. Dogs are triggered by scents.

Enjoy this time with your new dog. The best practice is for you to choose a training method that fits with your family and to be as consistent and positive for your pup as you can be. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some patience and a whole lot of fun. Congrats!

To learn more about the basics of housebreaking your puppy, watch AKC’s free webinar called Puppy Potty Training 101:

What are some best practices for house-training your new dog that you’d like to share?

--Laura Harris


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Betty Jo|11/16/18

When you have your puppy out of there cage, just tie them to your ankle so they can’t smeak off and do their job


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