The key to successful house training is supervision. Watch your dog constantly.
Your first duty is to identify what your dog does right before it eliminates. Does
your dog sniff? Circle? Hold his ears in a certain position? Some dogs provide
signals that are easy to spot, while others are more difficult. Watch carefully.
When you see the signs of an impending puddle, react! Quickly -before he has
the chance to squat- ask him in an excited voice, "Do you have to go OUTSIDE?"
Lead the way, continuing to praise all the way. Once outside, stay with him until
you witness the desired results and praise him as he goes. "Good, go potty
outside!" Make him feel that he is the most special dog in the whole world.
Confine When You Can't Watch
By confining him to a small place, like an airline kennel, you will teach him to wait
to be let out. He will be more reluctant to soil his crate, because if he does he will
be forced to sit and look at it and smell it until you return. When you do let him
out, take him directly to his assigned toilet area and praise for quick results.
Keep a Regular Schedule
Take him out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and many times in
between. Feed and exercise on a regular schedule. Remember, what goes in
regularly, will come out regularly. How soon after he eats does he need to go
out? Keep track. Free-choice feeding may hamper your house training efforts -
what trickles in will trickle out unpredictably! Your dog will probably need to go
out soon after eating, after napping, and after exercising. If you can anticipate
when he needs to go and hustle him to the appropriate spot at the first sign,
you'll avoid accidents.
Don't Just Put Him Out - Stay With Him
If you don't stay, you'll miss the chance to praise and you'll also miss the chance
to name the behavior. "Outside" is where he needs to go, "Go potty", "Find a
tree", or, "Do your business" (call it what you like) is what he needs to do when
he gets there. If you stay with him, you'll also know for a fact that both duties
were accomplished before he comes back in. (You'll also be glad that your dog is
comfortable eliminating in your presence when you're standing in the rain at that
rest stop while vacationing with your pet!)
He Comes Right Back In And Makes A Mess
If you leave him out alone, you won't know if he completed his assigned tasks or
was distracted by a butterfly. Many young puppies are distraught about being
separated from their owners. They may spend the entire time while outside just
sitting on the porch. It's unlikely that your pup will want to ask to go outside if it is
a negative experience to be separated from the security of its human family. "He
was out for two hours and came in immediately made a mess." He may have spent
most of the past two hours napping, awoke to the sound of the door and came
running. Now he's finally back inside - is he apt to want to ask to be left out again?
If he has an accident, swat yourself with the rolled up newspaper, not the dog. It
was your fault for not watching him closely enough! Rubbing his nose in it (yuck!),
scolding or hitting will only teach him to avoid you when he feels the need, rather
than come find you. Correcting before the dog learns how to ask only teaches the
dog to sneak off down the hall where you won't see him.
Teach Him How To Ask
If you have been a good cheerleader, your dog has probably made the
association between the feeling of a full bladder and your excitement at the
prospect of going outside. You may notice that he circles and then looks to you
like, "Well? I'm feeling it - are you going to get excited?" Now is the time to start
playing "stupid". "What? What do you want? Show me!" The more stupid you
appear, the more explicit he will be when trying to communicate his needs.
Before you know it, he will be asking.
Upsets in schedule, changes in food, or illness may contribute to temporary
lapses in house training. See your veterinarian if it persists. Outside stresses,
changes in weather, a new pet or baby in the family, may also upset your dog's
toilet habits. Punishing long after the fact will only add to his stress. Back up,
give him more structure; confine & supervise. Help him be good!