House Training Pro-Tips for Pet Parents

There are many myths and urban legends surrounding house training on the Internet. Many involve potentially damaging ideas like correcting a puppy for an indoor elimination when they have no idea what it is we want (damages trust), or teaching a puppy to use a pee pad inside the house which then has to be un-trained when they won’t stop using your bathmat to do their business.

The longer the Internet has been around, the more frustration about this issue I encounter.

I’ve worked with many clients whose adult dogs have eliminated indoors for years largely because their humans tried every well-meaning but of advice haphazardly and ultimately gave up.

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House training a puppy or dog to eliminate outside is FAR easier on them than teaching them it’s OK to eliminate inside but only on an absorbent pad.

A yard isn’t mandatory for outdoor house training. A balcony or patio with a grass pad works beautifully because humans rarely enjoy walking a puppy at 2AM or taking a dog for a walk in pouring rain.

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The easier house training is on people the more likely they’ll stick to a plan.

Beyond the location of where you want your pup to eliminate, house training requires three things to succeed: consistency, confinement and realistic expectations.

It’s not realistic to expect a puppy or dog to not eliminate for 9 or 10 hours during the day.

It’s not possible to house train a puppy or dog who has free range indoors. Confinement is key. You don’t have to use a crate for this. Pens and small rooms without a carpeted floor can accomplish the same thing. So can a leash.

It’s not reasonable to believe a puppy or dog will signal their need to eliminate until after they’re house trained (no indoor elimination in 8 consecutive weeks).

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Additional recommendations for successful house training:

*Establish a realistic schedule for trips to your puppy or dog’s designated elimination area. Start with every 30 minutes when they’re awake. Add 30 minutes per day (no more) until you’re up to every 2 hours.

*Meals, naps, overnight sleeping and vigorous play increase the puppy or dog’s need to eliminate. Take them outside immediately after meals and when they wake up, regardless of how long it’s been since their last elimination. Get them outside after no more than 10 minutes of vigorous play.

*If you have an outdoor space that can accommodate it, an elimination pen expedites house training by keeping puppy focused on the task at hand.

*A fenced elimination area teaches puppies to eliminate first, play later. Puppies will often enter the area for this purpose voluntarily, after a few days.

*Ignore your puppy during house training sessions. Distraction is the number 1 reason puppies eliminate indoors after just returning from the outdoors.

*Watch your puppy from the corner of your eye, so you know when eliminations happen. Stay outside however long it takes to achieve a successful outdoors elimination, in the beginning.

*The reward for eliminating outside is going inside. When elimination happens, open the door or head inside immediately.

*Avoid verbal praise. Allow the canine brain to focus. This contradicts a lot of internet house training recommendations, I realize. It’s based on 20+ years of house training experience. When I stopped exciting puppies and dogs with high energy verbal praise after a successful outdoor elimination, I began to see the training stick faster.

*Play stimulates elimination. Chase, fetch, tug, and the flirt pole are good options for expediting eliminations. Begin play only after pup has had the recommended time to do their business.

*Human patience helps puppies and dogs relax and focus. Pressure often delays elimination.

Puppies and dogs in my programs are typically house trained 2 weeks from the start, when their people follow the protocols consistently.

If you’re struggling with house training at any stage, I can help.

If you want to get house training right from the day your puppy arrives, I can help.

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I offer a complimentary 30 minute video session to answer questions, provide suggestions, and demonstrate for you how magical virtual puppy training is.

Drop me a description of where you are in your puppy rearing journey, and what’s your biggest struggle right now. 

Dee Green has been a professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant for more than 20 years. She specializes in puppies up to 18 months, and fearful, anxious and reactive dogs of all ages.

©️Dee Green, 2023

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