Unleashing Adventures in House: Training Your Puppy or Adult Dog

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Diligent effort on your part is the secret to successfully teaching your pup the proper place to go potty. Fortunately, the keys to house-training are the same as training other doggy life skills:

  • Consistency – Teach your dog what you want.
  • Motivation – Reward behaviors you like and want.
  • Patience and empathy – Have realistic expectations.
  • Management – Manage the environment to prevent unwanted behaviors from being practiced.

Consistency applies to keeping your inquisitive canine’s routine predictable, as well as teaching your pup where to go potty. In order to teach Fluffy where to eliminate outside, accompany her outside. Take her on leash to the area(s) you want her to “go.”

Also be consistent in your training methods. Reward her generously when she does go in the designated area. Avoid punishing her if she happens to eliminate in a forbidden area. Yelling, swatting, or pushing a dog’s nose into the place where they eliminated doesn’t tell them what you want. Punishment harms the bond and trust you are working to build and teaches your pup to be afraid to eliminate in front of you.

Motivation on the other hand, encourages participation in learning this important life skill because it involves things your dog enjoys. Remember, when you use rewards to reinforce desired behaviors, you’ll get more of them!

So, when Fido goes potty outside, praise him and offer him a treat when he’s finished. If you’re at a dog-safe location, let him off-leash for a little playtime as an extra reward.

Patience during this and all training endeavors is the foundation of bringing out the best in your best friend – so that you can move on to harnessing the really fun stuff – romping, playing and enjoying life together!

Empathy includes having realistic expectations. If you’re house-training a young puppy, recognize the physical limits of your pup. Younger puppies may need to eliminate every 2-4 hours when awake, lively and active. (They might be able to hold it for longer periods during the night.) Senior dogs or pups with certain medical conditions might experience changes in their potty routine. It’s best to be mindful of these considerations, go with the flow (pun intended), and modify your plan accordingly.

Management helps to prevent accidents by setting up your dog so that the incorrect choice is (nearly) impossible to make. Planning ahead will assist with the following house-training management tips:

  • Supervise your pup in the house. Learn to read Fluffy’s body language and vocalization cues indicating when she needs to go.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for your inquisitive canine to go potty.
  • Use short-term confinement training (crate training) when appropriate. Don’t leave your dog in the crate for too long or she will be forced to soil the crate, ruining her tendency to keep her sleeping area clean. Take your pup outside immediately after letting her out of the crate.

Thoughtful management when you cannot actively monitor your inquisitive canine helps set dogs up to make the right choice about where to potty.

Additionally, keep in mind that just because inquisitive canines go potty in the right place one time doesn’t mean they are house-trained. Keep up the training, supervision, and encouragement!

To sum up, do your best to be proactive, consistent, and patient when helping your dog learn a new skill, such as house-training. Above all, remember to enjoy the time you get to spend with the precious fur friend in your life.

Wishing you a lifetime of harnessing fun with your inquisitive canine!

The Inquisitive Canine was founded by Santa Barbara certified canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer. Joan and her team are devoted to offering humane, pawsitive, practical solutions that work for the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Joan offers coaching both in-person and online. If you are feeling inquisitive and have dog training questions, we invite you to contact The Inquisitive Canine for A Pawsitive Approach for Positive Results ™.


Written by Joan the Dog Coach

Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer who founded "The Inquisitive Canine." More information can be found at inquisitivecanine.com.

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