House-Training Your Dog

Jul 24, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Contributors, Pets, Sheryl Wall

by Sheryl Wall

House-training can be one of the most daunting aspects of owning a dog but it is always worth the effort. There are many house-training techniques so it may be hard to choose which you want to use. I found the best method for my dogs and me through research followed by trial and error.

Shane and her Westie sisters

Clockwise: Natisa, Shane and Cosette

A helpful first step is to establish a feeding schedule as allowing a dog to eat throughout the day can make house-training next to impossible because the puppy will also want to go out all through the day. This makes it hard to know when to take them out which leads to more accidents. My dogs have to go out often enough as it is! Another helpful method in the house-training process is crate training. Dogs who learn that the crate is their bed typically won’t potty in it. This helps when you can’t watch your puppy all the time. Be sure not to leave them in their crate too long though or they won’t have a choice but to go. Once feeding and crate times are established, it’s time to focus on house-training.

The use of puppy pads is a common approach, gradually moving the pads closer to the outside door then eventually outdoors. However, that doesn’t work with all dogs since some will start tearing the pads up. They worked great for the first few weeks when my dog, Natisa, had a litter of puppies then the pads became chew toys. The most effective method for my Irish Setter was to take her out every 20 to 30 minutes throughout the day, when she was not crated, and praise and reward her every time she went. Expect mistakes and don’t punish for them; instead, show your dog the correct place to go and always clean up the mess with a strong pet cleaner so they won’t return to it. Punishing a dog for going in the house isn’t helpful if you don’t catch them the very second they do it because they won’t even know why they are being punished.

Irish Setter

Maiyah, Sheryl's Irish Setter

It takes trial and error to figure out what works best for every dog; each dog is different so some methods work great while others don’t work at all. If one method doesn’t work, try another. My oldest dog never was house-trained, she simply understood right away but my youngest Westie tried hard to learn yet her little bladder took a while to have the control needed for success — Cosette sure tried though. Even now, she will just plop herself in one spot and cry because she knows it will all come out if she moves.

Consistency is key; without the same approach and reward system each time, house-training will be much harder and take longer. Be patient, every dog will learn at their own pace. This takes time and work but the end result will always be worth it.

Sheryl Wall is an ongoing contributor to our
Pet Perspective section, providing pet care advice from years of personal experience.


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