How to house train a dog

Housetraining Troubleshooting

You take the dog out, but nothing happens.

  • Be patient. If nothing happens after 10 minutes or so, come back in, keep the dog on leash and go back out 10 to 15 minutes later. Repeat as needed.

You take the dog out, but she runs around and plays.

  • Make sure she is on a leash about 6 feet long.
  • Make sure there are no play triggers around, such as toys, pets, children, etc.
  • Ignore the dog. Don’t talk to or play with her, don’t yell at her and don’t point out any poop.
  • Just walk back and forth, and don’t make a big deal about anything. Dogs can be easily distracted and love to get attention, so if you give her attention, she’ll never figure it out!

You keep finding accidents.

  • You are not supervising properly.

The dog has accidents inside the crate.

  • If the crate is too large, the dog can have a potty area and a sleeping area, so make sure the crate is the right size. The dog should be able to comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down.
  • If your dog goes to the bathroom and gets it all over himself, take the dog to the vet to rule out medical problems.
  • If medical issues are ruled out, contact a trainer or behaviorist for advice.
  • Do your best to determine if the dog was kept for long periods of time in a cage where it was forced to urinate and defecate where it sleeps. This makes housetraining more difficult, and advice from a professional may be required.
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Your dog cries in the crate in the middle of the night.

  • Your dog may be telling you he has to go to the bathroom, or he may be begging for attention.
  • Check your journal to see if it is time for a break.
  • If you’re not sure, take him directly outside, but do not acknowledge him.
  • If he goes to the bathroom, quietly and briefly acknowledge him to avoid teaching your dog that midnight potties are fun.
  • If he doesn’t go to the bathroom, put him back into the crate and go back to bed.
  • Make sure your dog has been adequately exercised before crating him for the night.
  • If you are certain the dog isn’t full of energy, doesn’t have to go to the bathroom and is healthy, he may need to just cry it out.
  • If the dog seems to be panicking, digging, destroying bedding, etc., contact a behaviorist or trainer right away, as you may be dealing with separation anxiety.

You just can’t seem to keep an eye on the dog.

  • Keep the dog tethered to you at all times or gate him in an area with you.
  • Restrict home access with gates and closed doors.
  • If you can’t keep your eye on her, she should be crated (such as at night, when you are gone, etc.).
  • Do not let the crate become a substitute for training! Dogs need plenty of exercise and social interaction.
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