One of the reasons some dogs come into rescue is because the owner was having difficulties with housetraining. If you are one of those people and have come to our web site with the thought of possibly relinquishing your Border Collie, please take time to read this page first.
Difficulties in housetraining are either due to a health problem or a communication problem with your dog. Rubbing your dog's or your puppy's nose in his excrement is a waste of time. And you may inadvertantly be telling your dog that you want him to eat this, or that he shouldn't go at all. It only slows down housetraining. If your dog has been housetrained and seems to have lost his training, the first thing to consider is illness. Take your dog to your vet and eliminate the possibility of a urinary tract infection, some type of poisoning or an allegic reaction to something in your dog's food.
Dogs are pack animals and need a leader. They are also den animals and do not soil their "den" unless they have no choice. With these two important bits of knowledge, you have the start to housetraining. If you have adopted a dog that is not a puppy, and he needs to be housetrained, expect that it will take about two weeks or less to retrain the dog to go only outside. And once he is trained, he will only need to go out 3-4 times during the day. So let us start with housetraining principles.
WHAT GOES IN MUST COME OUT
Start with a good quality dog food. Look at the list of ingredients on the package. The first ingredient should be meat. Then take a look at the recommended cups per feeding for your dog's body weight. You will discover that premium dog foods are actually cheaper to feed than the inexpensive brand of dog food because your dog will be getting more nutrients and less filler. Therefore, he needs to eat less dog food. With more good food going in and being used, he will poop less.
Feed your dog on a regular schedule at the same times every day. A regular schedule will encourage a regular appetite, and what goes in at a regular time will come out at a regular time too. Feed your dog the correct amount of food for his energy needs. And while you are housetraining him, feed him in the same place everyday, the same time everyday and from the same dish every day. If you intend to free feed later, wait until your dog is well housetrained now. By setting a predictable schedule, your dog will housetrain easier.
Rule Number One: PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG!
Yes, we know. You may not want to do this. But you really should. A responsible pet owner is always considerate. If you live in the city, there is usually a city ordinance that says you must or you will be fined if you get caught not doing so. There are other important reasons for picking up your dog's poop that you may not have thought about.
What's in that poop? Did your dog eat something that is shouldn't have? You saw him eat it - but did it come out again? What if its something that would cause a bowl obstruction? And now your dog seems under the weather but you don't know why. Observation; the color and texture of your dog's feces will tell you more than you realize. Slimy poop can be an indication of infection. Worms will appear as grains of rice or little white "tapioca." Loose stools, blood or what looks like coffee grounds (which is also blood) will tell you that there is an intestinal problem. Does your dog or your puppy occassionally eat poop? Do you want your dog eating poop that was left behind by a thougtless dog owner? Be a responsible dog owner and carry a couple of plastic bags with you.
Let's get Started
Always have clean water available for your dog. Don't add water to his bowl. Change the water instead, and make sure the bowl is clean. Sufficient water ensures that your dog stays properly hydrated.
Since you want your dog to relieve himself outside, set up a schedule for taking him outside. The night before you start your training program, take your dog out to relieve himself one last time. "Let's go out." or "potty time." When he's finished, put him in his crate for the night. Take your dog out to his toilet as the first thing in the morning. Roll out of bed, put your shoes on and take him out before you do anything else in the morning. Take him to the area that you want him to use and let him check it out. When he goes, praise him highly for being the most brilliant dog you have ever met - and then take him inside immediately. Feed him and about 15 to 20 minutes later, ask him if he has to go out.
"Let's go out. Potty time." Take him back to the toilet area and once again let him sniff around until he does his duty. The odors from his last trip should stimulate him to go here again. If he does nothing but sniff around, then take him back inside and put him in his crate. Wait another 20 minutes or so and take him out again. You may have to do this a few times until you have him figured out. But he should realize that the first trip out in the morning is an important one.
With puppies, you may find that you have to pick the puppy up as soon as you open the crate door in the morning and carry him out. He may not be able to "hold it" long enough to walk out the door. Puppies, having an immature system need to take a potty break about 10-15 minutes after sleeping, eating, drinking and playing. In between all these trips out for a potty break, you need to be aware of your puppy. There are many articles written on housetraining your puppy. This article is intended more specifically for the adult dog who has not been housetrained yet. If you need special help in housetraining your new puppy, please feel free to email us and we will do our best to teach you how to housetrain your puppy.
Always go outside with your dog during the training period - even if your yard is fenced. Stick to a tight schedule and take your dog out on a leash, even if you have a fenced yard, during the housetraining period. You want to make sure that he has "done his duty." Do not let him roam freely. He must understand that this trip outside has only one purpose.
When he is finished, praise him enthusiastically. When your dog does make a mistake in the house, the only correction necessary and appropriate are the words "NO!" and "BAAD DOG!" Your dog is an expert at reading body language and believe it or not, he understands that you are not happy with his accident.
You can housetrain your dog in just about a week even if you work all day. Your routine will be the same but you will need to adjust your dog's feeding and walking times, his supervised time and his confined times to fit with your work hours. Here is a an example of a housetraining schedule.
6:00 Take your dog out.
6:15 Feed your dog.
6:30 Take your dog out for exercise.
7:00 Confine your dog when you leave for work.
12:30 (if possible) Take your dog out for exercise and then confine your dog.
5:30 Take your dog out.
6:00 Feed your dog.
7:00 Take your dog for exercise.
10:00(or bedtime) Take your dog out one last time and then confine him for the night.
Praise is a very effective way to show your dog that you are happy with him. Use it liberally whenever your dog does something right. And as a reward for doing something right, give him the pleasure of your touch. Each time your praise and pet your dog, you reinforce the behavior that you expect to achieve.
When your dog makes a mistake
It is to be expected that your dog will make a mistake during the training period. The most effective time to make a correction is when you can catch him in the act. Make a loud sudden noise. Yell "NO!" and scold him. The idea is to startle him so that he stops doing whatever he is doing. "Let's go out. Potty time." Then immediately take him outside to his potty area so that he can finish out there. Praise him if he does finish outside in his potty area. Even if he has finished creating his mistake in the house, scold him and immediately take him outside to his potty area. Obviously, he won't have to go again - but he will sniff around. Praise him for sniffing his potty area.
Even if you don't catch your dog in the act of making a mistake, you can still correct him. Never call him by his name or use the word "Come" if you intend to correct him for his mistake. These are words that are used when you want him to come to you happily and willingly. Calling him to you and then scolding him will reventually result in a reluctance to come to you for any reason. Instead, take him by the collar and march him over to his mistake. Point it out to him and let him smell it. Then scold him with something like "BAAD DOG! What is this?! BAAD DOG!"
"Let's go out. Potty time." And then take him outside to his potty area. When he sniffs the ground, give him praise.
Watch for signs that your dog needs to go outside. He make whine, pace, look nervous, wait at the door, or try to signal you that he needs to go out. Each time you take him out to his potty area, give him his cue. When he gives you a signal that he needs to go out, praise him for being the brilliant dog that he is and immediately take him out. "Let's go out. Potty time."
Typically the houstraining "accidents" happen in the evening. Your dog is tired now and it is more difficult to concentrate on making sure he goes outside rathen than inside. Also, you are probably tired too or busy with your evening routines. You may not be as attentive as you should be. If either possibility exists, then put your dog on a leash and hook the leash to your waist. Your dog won't be able to wander through the house and find a spot to relieve himself.
If you have adopted an adult male dog who has been housetrained, it is not unusual at all for him to "mark" your house during the first couple of days. He will probably sniff a vertical surface, line his body along that surface and quickly lift his leg. Keep a leash on him at and quickly remove him from his intended target. Until you are confident that he has given up the idea of marking your house, keep him on a leash and with you at all times. If you find that you aren't able to do this, either confine him to a crate or put a pair of mens underwear on him. Put his tail through the fly opening. Within a day or two, he will learn that lifting his leg does no good.
The more consistent and obversant you are about housetraining, the quicker your dog will train and the less stressful it will be for both of you.