How to Effectively House Train Your Dog
House training is undoubtedly the one aspect of dog training that is essential to ensure that your dog becomes a valued member of your family. As with many other aspects of dog training, the best method of achieving a successfully house trained dog is to use your dog’s own nature to your advantage.
A wonderful thing about dogs that can make house training much easier, is that dogs are instinctively very clean animals. The majority of dogs would rather not soil the areas where they sleep and eat. In addition, dogs are very good at developing habits. This can be used to your benefit in relation to establishing a set place for your dog to urinate and defecate. For example, dogs that are used to eliminating on concrete or gravel will prefer to eliminate there rather than on grass or dirt. It is possible, and desirable, to use these natural canine tendencies when house training your dog.
The first step in house training your dog is to set up your training area. A small, confined space such as a bathroom, or part of a kitchen or garage, works best as a training area. This method of training differs from crate training. Crate training is great for puppies and small dogs, but many larger adult dogs find a crate too confining if they haven’t been used to it from an early stage.
It is important that you spend as much time in the training area with your dog as possible. Use this area to play with your dog, and let your dog eat and sleep in the training area. Provide your dog with a special bed in the training area – this can be anything from a store bought custom dog bed to a large towel in an appropriately sized box. At first, you will probably find that your dog will want to eliminate in this area, but once your dog has recognized the training area as his or her own space, he or she will be much more reluctant to soil it.
The next step in house training is to set up a toilet area for your dog. Your dog must have ready access to this place every time he or she needs to eliminate. It is also important for you to accompany your dog into the toilet area until he or she gets into the habit of eliminating in that area. This will help reinforce to your dog that there is one area for toileting, and no other.
Regular meals for your dog assists in making the house training process easier for both you and your dog. Feeding your dog on a regular basis will also have the added benefit of creating a regular schedule for your dog’s toilet habits. Once you know when your dog is likely to need to eliminate, it will be simple to guide your dog to the established toilet area.
Once you have your dog using the toilet area on a regular and systematic basis, it is very important to not confine your dog without access to the toilet area for long periods of time. If your dog is unable to hold it, he will have no option but to eliminate in the training area. And this occurrence will confuse your dog. He will no longer associate the toilet area with being the ONLY area in which he can eliminate. You will thus be making your job of house training your dog more difficult for yourself.
When your dog is consistently eliminating in the toilet area and not soiling the training area, it is time to extend that training area to the rest of the home. This process should be done slowly, starting with one room and slowly expanding to the rest of the house. The area should only be extended only once you are sure of the dog’s ability to control its bladder and bowels.
First expand the training area to another single room, and allow your dog to eat, play and sleep in that room, but only when supervised. When it is not possible to supervise the dog, place it back in the original training area. Then, after the dog has accepted the room as an extension of the original training area, the area can be extended.
Once your dog has become used to sleeping in the bed within the training area, you can move the bed around the house, relocating it from room to room. But when you are not with your dog, he or she should be confined to the training area.
You can speed up the house training process, but it is important to proceed cautiously. It will be much easier to take your time in the beginning than to have to retrain a problem dog later. You should always praise and reward your dog each and every time it uses the established toilet area. It is equally important not to punish your dog for mistakes. Punishment will only confuse the dog and slow down the house training process. You wouldn’t consider punishing a baby for soiling its diaper, would you? Or even a toddler for soiling his or her pants from time to time? Your dog is the same as a human child in this respect – he needs time to learn both to control his toileting, and what you require of him.