The reality of having a new puppy in the house or even a dog that is adapting to a new environment is that there will likely be an accident at some point. The key to successfully eliminating all accidents is a mixture of patience, consistency and encouragement – but there are a few other actions that help as well!
We have both new and experienced pet owners ask us all the time the best way to go about house breaking a new dog, so we wanted to share some do’s and don’ts that will be effective without ruining the special relationship that you have with your pet.
DO: Stick to a routine.
Some pets take a week to house train while others take upwards of a month. If you establish a potty routine early-on and stick to it, your dog will more quickly adapt. If possible, set up a routine that involves a morning walk as soon as you rise, a late morning walk before work, a lunch time walk and a walk as soon as you arrive home. If you work outside the home, you might want to look into dog walker options, at least until your pet can hold it longer in the day.
DO: Establish a "potty spot.”
Instead of letting your pet roam around your yard, leaving little presents and going as she or he pleases, we recommend having a special area designated for reliving purposes. This way, not only do you know where you need to clean/avoid, but your pet associates one particular area with doing his business.
DO: Reward good behavior.
Every time your pet relieves himself outdoors in the special "potty spot,” be sure to reward their good behavior! You can do this by offering a treat or enthusiastic praise, but it must be done right after going to the bathroom so they associate the praise with the right behavior.
DON’T: Ignore messes made in the house.
There are appropriate ways to go about it, but don’t let your pet go to the bathroom in front of you in the house without addressing it. If you catch them in the act, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise or by using a key word such as "outside” or "no potty.” Then, take your pet to the outside spot and reward the desired outcome.
DON’T: Punish indoor messes you find after the fact.
If you walk in after a longer-than-expected day at work to find a present by the door, it’s too late to punish your pet for the accident at that time. If you don’t catch them in the act, it’s hard to punish them and have them understand what the bad behavior was.
DON’T: Leave your pet with access to the whole house if you’re leaving for a long time.
If you plan on being gone for a long period of time with no one available to walk your pet, instead of leaving him or her out with access to your whole house, keep your dog confined to a large crate or singular room. This way, you cut down on where an accident will be located upon your return.
House breaking a new pet is just part of the process! When the appropriate steps are taken, the process moves along rather quickly. It’s easy to get stressed and want to snap, but remember that your pet is eager to please you and will learn quickly if you take the time to teach proper bathroom behavior.
If your pet is housebroken or having an unusually hard time grasping the routine, please let the Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital staff know as it may be a larger bladder or urinary issue that requires medical care.