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House Training Tips

This approach works well for puppies as well as dogs with an unknown history wherein you do not know whether they are house trained. Many adult dogs may need a refresher course in house training because they are attempting to adapt to new circumstances, new schedules, and a new family.

  • Put your puppy/dog on a consistent feeding schedule. Feed a puppy under six months three times per day and at the same time each day. Adult dogs needing a refresher course in house training do best when fed twice a day and at the same time each day.
  • Feed the same food consistently. Changing foods can cause finickiness and intestinal upset. If you do change types or brands of food, mix the new food with the old over several days, gradually increasing the amount of new food. This will help your dog adjust to the change.
  • Take your puppy/dog out on a regular schedule. Puppies typically need to go out within 30 minutes after a meal, and almost immediately after awakening, shortly after a play session, and just before going to bed at night. Puppies have limited bladder and bowel control and need to go out rather frequently during the day, and sometimes during the night.
  • Pick a word such as "outside" and use it as you go outdoors. Encourage your puppy/dog to go immediately, and in a specific area. Play time and walks should happen AFTER your puppy/dog eliminates. If your puppy/dog does not eliminate within ten to fifteen minutes, go back inside and try again a short while later. As you cross the threshold into the house say "inside." This will help your puppy/dog understand that outside is the bathroom, inside is not. Keep an eye on them, or put them in their crate, so they do not have an accident inside. It is easier to prevent accidents than clean up after them. Of course, this is easier said than done; however, if you get a ten foot lead and attach it to you and your puppy/dog you can more easily monitor their activities and prevent problems (e.g., inappropriate elimination, chewing your antique chairs, chasing the cat, and so forth) before they happen.
  • If you catch your puppy/dog in the act of going inside, use a low, gutteral "no," pick them up and take them outside. DO NOT PUNISH A DOG FOR INAPPROPRIATE ELIMINATION UNLESS YOU CATCH THEM IN THE ACT. Your puppy/dog will not connect later punishment with the act of improper elimination. Indeed, what you will teach your dog is to fear you. This principle applies to all sorts of typical puppy behavior, such as chewing inappropriate items while you are not attending to them. If you cannot monitor your puppy's/dog's behavior, a crate is your most valuable tool.
  • Clean up accidents using a specifically prepared commercial cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water. Since dog urine contains ammonia, do not use a cleaner containing ammonia; it is likely to attract your puppy/dog to the same spot.
  • Get a Crate and Use It.  Dogs are denning animals, so crating is consistent with their natural behavior. It is not a prison, but a safe and secure place for them to have quiet time. Indeed, many dogs will continue to go to their crate long after the crate is necessary. It is an invaluable tool for house training, and for preventing your puppy/dog from getting into trouble while you are away from home.
  • The general consensus among dog trainers is that a dog is generally not completely house trained until they are a year old, when bowel and bladder development affords them considerable control. Of course, like with humans, dogs differ in their development and understanding of training. Patience, consistency, a crate, and careful monitoring will result in a reliably house trained dog.

For help with training, contact Bloomington Animal Care and Control for help. Ring 812-349-3492 or visit the shelter at 3410 S. Old State Road 37, Bloomington, IN 47401.'s quote of the day
"I'd rather have an inch of dog than miles of pedigree."
-Dana Burnet

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