Housetraining is the process of teaching your dog that it should only defecate outside of its home. While perfectly achievable, it is a long-term project which requires patience and consistency. Although beyond the scope of a brief article, here we hope to offer you some advice on how you can effectively housetrain your dog.
Dogs thrive on routine and are fast learners which very much plays to the advantage of an owner with housetraining plans. Consistent structure allows dogs to form associations which is their primary form of learning. Speed of learning will naturally vary from dog to dog, but patience and consistency do work and will eventually yield the desired results.
The association pet and working dog owners are trying to build when housetraining is that defecation in the home is bad, and defecation outside is good. Desired behaviours should be rewarded, and undesirable behaviours prevented or ignored. Your planning will go a long way in helping set your dog up for success, so the following steps are highly recommended:
- Move your dog’s bed into an enclosed crate which it is not allowed out of during the night. Dogs tend not to defecate where they sleep unless they are unwell, so crates can be a useful tool for housetraining
- Take your dog outside first thing in the morning. Do not let it return to the house until it has defecated
- Always immediately praise and reward a dog when it has defecated outside the house. The reward should follow the desired behaviour as soon as it has been performed, otherwise the dog concerned may not form a positive association between the two
- If your dog defecates in the house simply ignore what has happened. Scolding is often misinterpreted by dogs as excitable behaviour, and may result in unwanted positive associations with what you are trying to discourage. Never rub a dog’s nose in its own mess either
- Keep mealtimes consistent throughout the day while housetraining your dog. As soon as a dog has finished eating, take it outside and do not let it come back into the house until it has defecated
- Be attentive to your dog’s behaviour and body language. Specific behavioural patterns are often repeated before a dog needs to defecate. By identifying them and taking your dog outside when spotted, you can more easily prevent unwanted indoor defecation
- Try taking your dog for more walks throughout the day. Even if these are very short, they are naturally more inclined to defecate during exercise which removes opportunities to mess in the house
Housetraining can seem difficult and tiring, but is very achievable. For additional advice, we recommend consulting with an experienced dog trainer or behaviourist with a proven record of helping owners housebreak their dogs.