Are you wondering how to potty train a dog at home and avoid spending a ton of money on professional dog trainers? Most dog parents don’t have the patience or the strength to deal with accidents and constant repetitions. They want their dogs to start going potty outside immediately, without taking into account that dogs, just like toddlers, need proper GUIDANCE.
Not to worry, though, as we have the ultimate, no-fuss guide here. Explained in layman’s terms and without unsolicited advice, here’s how to potty train a dog at home.
First things first — if possible, start early
People often say that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, and to some extent, that is completely true. Potty training an older dog would last longer than housebreaking a puppy, purely because the dog is already “set in its own ways.” There are behavioral patterns at play that we have to handle carefully so as not to damage our bond or traumatize the dog.
With puppies, though, the earlier we start, the better. In general, we will get the best results if we start potty training a dog when it’s anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks old. That is the age when the dog is old enough to learn how to “hold it in” but still doesn’t have a completely formed character that would slow down the process.
Prep yourself beforehand
Now, before we even put the dog on a regular potty training schedule, we’ll have to prepare ourselves in advance for the whole ordeal.
To make matters a bit easier, we ought to determine ahead of time where we will take the dog for walks each morning. That way, we will avoid having to spend too much time thinking about it as soon as we wake up — and accidents as well.
If you have no other choice but to take the dog outside your building, that would work too. Still, if possible at all, aim to take the dog for at least a 15-minute walk in the morning.
Finally, if any accidents do happen, it’s crucial to clean up messes as soon as possible. Because of that, we ought to arm ourselves with a bottle of strong enzymatic cleaner. If the scent lingers behind, the dog will try to pee or poop on the same spot again. The enzymes will prevent that, though.
How to potty train a dog at home: 3 steps to a housebroken dog
#1 Create a routine you can stick to
This entails going out for a walk, as well as serving the dog breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time every day.
In general, dogs are quite simple creatures when it comes to their physiological needs. They will need to go potty after each meal, nap, and play session. Thus, it’s easy to determine when the dog should be taken outside to pee or poop. The problem is — we have to watch out for the telltale signs and actually be present to take the dog outside.
Therefore, every morning when you wake up, go for a walk and let the dog go potty. Use that time to point out a good spot where it can comfortably relieve itself — and then always take the dog there. That way, it will gradually associate that spot with what it has to do, so it will want to only “go” there and nowhere else!
Additionally, make sure to take the dog outside right before bed. You don’t want to be woken up while sound asleep by barking and whining. Still, even if that happens, if you cannot (or won’t) take it outside again, place some training pads near the dog’s bed.
#2 Learn what the signs are and memorize them
The signs are actually pretty easy to recognize. However, given they include potentially annoying behavior, most dog owners like to ignore them or even yell at the dog to stop doing whatever it’s doing.
Needless to say, ignoring the following signs means an accident is bound to happen:
- Scratching the front door
- Sniffing the floor
- Circling around one spot
If you notice any of these — stop what you’re doing and get the dog outside or on a training pad right away.
#3 Give lots of praise and treats
Finally, keep in mind that we have to reinforce the idea that peeing or pooping outside is GOOD while doing that inside is BAD. The best way to do that is, obviously, with praise and treats. Dogs love knowing when they’ve done something right, so make sure they’re well aware of your satisfaction.
On the other hand, if the dog has an accident, you should never punish it. Dogs don’t respond well to punishment, both physical and psychological, and it can have major consequences on them later on. aggression is one of the most common ones — and you do want to avoid it, right?
So, what do you do when the dog accidentally pees or poops inside? Clean the mess up with some enzymatic cleaner and continue training the pooch. There’s no reason to get angry, and it’s futile anyway. Dogs just aren’t capable of connecting the anger with what they’ve done. Yelling will only lead to fear.
How to potty train a dog at home: final two tips and words of advice
What if I catch the dog in the act?
There is much more you can do if you interrupt the dog while it’s doing the deed somewhere inside. Instead of yelling, clap loudly so that the dog knows you’ve seen it. Then, just take the dog outside and wait for it to finish.
Once it’s done, praise it and give it a treat. Congratulations — you’ve successfully beaten one example of bad behavior with positive reinforcement!
Is crate training a possibility too? (See crate prices on Amazon)
Of course! Most dog parents swear by crate training, as it allows them to keep an eye on the dog and test its bladder limits. Given that dogs think of crates as their own little dens, they will do whatever it takes not to soil it. As such, they will gain bladder control and become capable of spending time outside the crate without resorting to improper elimination.
However, don’t think you can just place the dog in a crate and call it a day. Young pups cannot hold it for long; you’ll have to take the dog out of the crate every 30 minutes or so, at least in the beginning.
Final thoughts on how to potty train a dog at home
Most dog parents would agree that potty training seems intimidating at first. It feels like the dog will never learn, and that our house has become its very own bathroom.
But, you have to trust the process. If you keep at it and stick to a training schedule, as well as a good routine, the pooch will soon connect all the dots!