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Housetraining - The #1 priority when a new puppy or dog arrives at home. Unless the new pet learns acceptable potty manners, he will, in many cases, either become an outside dog or a short term resident. Therefore, housetraining becomes your first training challenge. Handled properly, this can be a pleasant experience for both you and the dog.


While your new puppy or dog may have been housetrained before coming to the humane shelter, he may have been residing in our kennel atmosphere for several days or weeks. Yes, this is long enough for housetraining to break down. Also, a dog’s housetraining learned on location (his previous home) may not automatically transfer to your home. By placing your new dog immediately on a routine housetraining program, you should be able to re-establish his clean habits in a very short time. If your new dog was a stray before reaching the shelter, in all probability he comes with built in housetraining needs.


Before embarking on a housetraining program, be sure the puppy or dog is healthy and has been checked by his vet (a low urinary tract infection could could be the real culprit making it difficult for him hold his urine).


The method of housetraining we recommend, for both puppies or adult dogs, utilize a confinement area for the dog which will restrict access to the area to be respected (the inside of the house) by means of a dog crate, baby playpen, or by securing the dog on a leash no longer than the length of his body.


This housetraning program requires a 10 day commitment to teach the dog:

1. where the “bathroom” is located

2. the route to the “bathroom”

3. to hold their elimination for longer periods of time


Input (food & water) produces output. Therefore, the dog’s food intake must be scheduled, water also if necessary. Random, free feeding (food left down all the time) is not recommended during housetraining. Put the food down for 15-20 minutes, remove and re-serve at next meal time.


Good timing is essential. Watch your puppy or dog. Learn how he behaves when the urge hits him. Puppies usually urinate within 1/2 minute on waking up. Sew a bell on his collar so you can hear him when he begins to move around-then you get moving! Be sure he can’t eat the bell. Put his crate near your bed for overnight. Yes, when you hear the bell go off at 2am, it’s time to hit the deck running.


Day 1-3: +100% confinement for the dog

-absolutely no freedom/activity in side the house

-eat/sleep/play in confinement

-out of confinement only when outside

take the dog out on a leash (carry if possible) every hour

-stand in one quickly accessible, convenient spot; do not walk around

- this is a trip to the bathroom, not a walk

+if the dog eliminates outside, can play or walk then return to confinement

+if the dog does not eliminate, return to confinement;take out in 15-30 min.

+when the dog is eliminating reliably while outside-

-extend the times between trips outside in 15 minute increments

-all other procedures remain the same


Day 4-10: the dog is allowed limited freedom inside thr house

-BUT MUST BE WATCHED 100% OF THE TIME! If dog has accident inside the

house, the entire 10 days must be repeated.

+when the dog cannot be watched 100%, return dog to confinement area

-if the telephone rings, return dog to confinement area

-if you are cooking, return dog to confinement area

-if the baby needs your attention, return dog to confinement area

-if your favorite TV program is on, return dog to confinement area

-if you want to take a nap, return dog to confinement area

+100% ADULT supervision/observation is required

-do not try delegating/assigning this important responsibility to the children


Yes, 100% for both the first 3 days of confinement and second 7 days of observation, means just that-100%. There is no punishment for the dog. If a mistake is made in the house, the mistake was ours-not the dog’s. The inside of the house must stay clean, with no accidents, for a full 10 days or the program must be repeated. Yes, 10 days-only 10 days of the rest of his life.


Confinement in a room (bathroom, utility room, garage) separated from family activity, usually works out unsatisfactorily as the dog’s isolation may start undesirable behavories such as barking, scratching, chewing etc. Since a dog crate or kennel is mobile, the dog can be kept close to family activity and will minimize start of other problems.


Important, the dog crate or kennel is a training tool; it must NOT be used as punishment. It is his house inside your house, his bed, his safe space. For the dog’s safety, remove any training collars; the dog should wear only a flat, buckle collar inside the crate.


A healthy, awake, active puppy can only be expected to “hold” his urine for 1 hour (some less) for every month of age-maybe shorter if active, maybe longer if quite or sleeping. The length of time between trips outside should extend only to the extent of the puppy’s or dog’s age and ability to maintain a clean confinement area (an 8 week old puppy cannot be expected to keep its confinement area clean foe 8 hours).


If clean-up is necessary, do so while the dog is not present. Use a solution of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water to neutralize the urine scent (careful on hard wood floors).


Following successful completion of the 10 day housetraining program, while the dog may require being watched closely, he should be fairly reliable. Should housetraining falter as a result of either physical or emotional stress for the dog, he should be immediately put back on the strict 3 day confinement program.


Connie Ellis

Pet Animal Behavior Specialist

Rev. May 7, 1994 -copyrighted


Permission has been received from Connie Ellis, Puppy & Dog Training/Nordic Pet Connection, Inc., For reproduction

of and distribution by the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, FL, Inc.


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