My Dog Is 5 Months Old And Not Potty Trained Housebreaking A Backsliding Puppy Or Dog

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Housebreaking A Backsliding Puppy Or Dog

Housebreaking leads the pack in terms of the topic I get the most questions on, hands down. The key really is to make sure you follow a consistent plan. Consistency will make housebreaking your dog or puppy as simple as possible. However, hacking is still difficult. And it’s not something you’re going to achieve overnight, or even in a week, despite the ads you may see online that say you can. Housebreaking is a process. Your dog needs to learn through training where it is and is not appropriate to go potty.

Even if you follow all the steps, you may encounter unexpected setbacks in the housebreaking process, such as when your dog starts using the bathroom indoors again after seemingly having been knocked down solidly, or when your dog starts using the bathroom in his cage. There are different procedures for handling these issues, so I’ll deal with them separately, starting with dealing with a dog that started pottying indoors after you thought he was completely housebroken.

Before we dive into housebreaking, keep this in mind… even the best trained dogs will have accidents. The goal is to make it so occasional that you don’t remember 2 out of the 3 last times it happened. Even my 11-year-old dog surprised me a few months ago with a liquid, little present near my back door after housebreaking for a decade! In that case the accident was completely my fault. I had gone out of town one night and she had nowhere else to go. Keep this in mind when potty training your dog or puppy because a single accident may not mean your dog has completely relapsed. However, if you experience an accident number 2 or more in a short period of time, you need to take action immediately to prevent any further problems.

The common reasoning I hear from owners when a dog begins to regress in potty training is that the dog is angry, or doing so out of spite or to “get back” at the owner for some wrong done to them. I’m guilty of having these thoughts before, but the quickest way to a solution is to let go of that line of thinking and adopt the mantra that your dog isn’t doing things out of malice or hatred towards you. Dogs generally want their owners to be happy. They pack and want to be in a happy, cohesive pack. They also do not have the same emotions as a human and do not hold grudges or act out of malice.

It’s really quite simple… from the dog’s side. He thinks he should go home now… he’s done this so many times now without correction (or the wrong type of correction).

This means that when you can’t watch your dog, he needs to be crated or restrained so he doesn’t have accidents, and he should have very limited access to roam the house until you get the break-in back under control. Here is the specific strategy for handling home burglary issues:

1. Put your dog on a leash that is attached to your belt or to a piece of furniture so that they are never out of your sight.

2. Watch closely and learn to identify when your dog is reaching their maximum potty retention limit. Usually, most sniffing the ground comes right before an accident. Watch your dog!

3. When you see your dog bending over (or squatting) in that classic “I’m going potty” PIMA position (even if you’re standing), clap your hands together to get your dog’s attention, say “A- Ah” in a clear, steady voice (no need to sound hysterical here, the idea is to scare your dog into paying attention to you instead of going potty).

4. Using the leash lead your dog outside. Take your dog if necessary to get him out quickly.

5. Encourage your dog with gentle praise and smiles on the potty as soon as you go outside. Praise your dog A LOT with treats and hugs and love for finishing outside. This is what you want.

“Ah-Ah” was enough to stop my Sheltie long enough for me to get her out. Then I would go with a smile and a friendly command of “potty time” until he pottyed OUT. Then it’s time for lots of praise and even some treats if you have some handy. A few times you do this and your dog will understand that the potty should only be done outside.

What I want you to take away from this strategy is that you shouldn’t just focus on punishing your dog for using the bathroom indoors. In fact, the only time you should punish them for this is when you catch them in the act (with an “Ah-Ah” or a firm “No”). Punishing your dog after the fact, even 3 minutes later, does not work.

Your dog will NOT, I repeat NOT, make the association between what he was doing even 2 minutes ago (ie pottying indoors) and you yelling and freaking out and poking his nose into the mess.

Clean up the mess, don’t let your dog see you clean up, and be prepared next time to catch your dog right away when he’s squatting.

For a puppy this process is even easier because they tend to be light enough to pick up to carry outside. This is a good way to get your pup outside quickly before he finishes pottying indoors.

With my English Bulldog I encountered an unexpected problem that you may be experiencing yourself. Even with the “Ah-Ah” sign and the jump, she wouldn’t/couldn’t stop the potty once it started. And that frustrated me to no end! But stick with the process. Take your dog outside as soon as possible and encourage him to go potty.

So show your dog where you want him to go potty when he needs to go potty. It reinforces behavior more quickly. And make it beneficial for them to potty outside by showering them with love and treats when they do.

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