Top tips to house train your dog

Top tips to house train your dog

House training is something we associate with puppies. But as Blue Cross explains, there are many pooches – through no fault of their own – that reach adulthood without being fully house trained. However, contrary to the popular saying, you can teach an old dog new tricks! With time, love and patience, you can ensure your new hound is fully house trained, regardless of their age.


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First, some pointers...


Dogs Trust explains that it’s completely normal for a puppy to take a few months to be fully house trained. So, don’t lose faith if the process feels like it’s taking longer than it should. The welfare charity shares some other pointers:


  • Be patient! Every dog is different and some will take longer to train than others.
  • Make sure you provide plenty of ‘right’ opportunities for your dog to practise good toilet behaviour.
  • Accept that accidents can, and will, happen. Don’t shout at your dog for it, or it could make it harder to train them.
  • If your dog seems to be going to the toilet a lot, is drinking lots of water, or if you simply can’t seem to house train them, consider visiting a vet to see if there’s an underlying issue causing accidents.


Bear in mind that the breed of dog might also affect how long house training takes. A US study found that the easiest breeds to ‘housebreak’ included border collies, labradors and shih tzus.


What to do

 Puppy sitting in garden with harness attached

Before you begin, it’s important to clean all the areas where your dog has previously been to the toilet, in order to remove the scent. Then, here’s what you should do:


  1. Take your dog outside, every hour or so, to the same spot in your garden. You can lay newspaper or faeces in this area, as the scent will help your dog know where to ‘do their business.’ Let them walk or run up and down and sniff the area, but don’t play any games with them as it’ll distract them.


  1. If your pooch looks confused or starts to walk away, patiently walk up and down to encourage them to move around and sniff the ground. Stay outdoors until they’ve gone to the toilet, at which point you can give them gentle praise.


  1. After five or so minutes, if they still haven’t done their business you should go back inside – but keep a close watch over them. You should try again after around 20 minutes, repeating the process until they go. It’s very unlikely a pup will master this first time around, so be patient – your persistence will eventually pay off!


  1. If you think that your dog needs the toilet, immediately take them to your chosen spot in the garden. Tell-tale signs include sniffing or circling the door, looking restless, or visiting a room they’ve previously gone to toilet in.


You should repeat the above routine for a minimum of two weeks, bearing in mind some dogs will need more time. For the first few weeks at least, keep going out with your dog so you can gently praise them each time they go to the toilet.


After two weeks of the same routine, increase the amount of time between ‘toilet breaks.’ Your pooch will eventually want to go to the loo at a time other than the time you choose, and may tell you by becoming more active or hovering near the back door. As you start to notice these signs, you can relax your indoor supervision.


Other things to bear in mind


Using a crate


It’s very rare for dogs to soil their own beds, meaning a dog crate can prove to be a handy tool when house training your pooch. So long as they feel comfortable in the crate, you can pop them in there for a short period of time when you can’t supervise them or need to do other things.


Initial training


If it’s possible, supervise your pup at all times during the initial stages of house training. If you have to go out, then you can use the crate so long as your dog is comfortable in it. Make sure they’ve had a chance to exercise and go to the toilet before you go.


During the night


Puppies and some dogs will need to go to the toilet during the night. A simple solution is to put your pooch’s bed or crate in your bedroom or close to it, leaving the door open. If they wake you up, it’s a sign they need to go to the toilet, so calmly take them outdoors (don’t excite them).


Don’t punish your dog


You might feel annoyed at your dog for having an accident indoors, but don’t punish or shout at them – this isn’t constructive! In fact, it could be counterproductive, as your pup might became anxious, causing them to urinate indoors more.


Common house training mistakes


House training not going as well as you hoped? There could be a number of possible reasons for this, according to The Kennel Club. They include:


  • Over-feeding, not feeding at regular times or feeding your dog an unsuitable diet.
  • Punishing dogs for indoor accidents.
  • Feeding dog foods too high in salt (which can cause them to drink more).
  • Using ammonia-based products (which smell like urine).
  • Expecting your puppy to tell you when they need to go outside.
  • Leaving the back door open so your dog can come and go as it pleases (puppies in particular will start to associate the outdoors with being somewhere they can play, rather than a toilet).
  • Leaving your dog too long on its own, so that is has no other choice but to go inside.
  • Leaving your pup on its own in the garden, meaning you’re not there to reward it when it goes to the toilet out there.


Remember, if you need to protect your pooch, you can rely on Go Get It to compare dog insurance and find you the right policy. Get a quote today!

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