House-Training Adult Dog

Even the smartest, best-trained dog can have accidents, especially when getting used to a new home. It is important to give your dog the benefit of the doubt and treat your new dog like a puppy for the first weeks, at least where house-training is concerned. The key to success is to use a dog-proofed area and/or a crate. For more information see Crate Training Your Dog.

House-Training Schedule

Take your dog out:

  • Very first thing in the morning
  • After they eat
  • After play
  • After they wake up after a longer nap
  • Every two to three hours
  • Right before bed time

Four Golden Rules for House-Training

  1. Until your dog is perfectly house-trained, don’t leave them alone unless they’re in a dog-proofed area or crate. Supervise your dog at all times in the house.
  2. Take your dog out on leash often. Start by walking them at two-hour intervals.
  3. If you see your dog sniffing and circling in the house, take them out immediately.
  4. Praise and reward with a treat when they go outdoors.

Keep in mind that your dog’s size affects how long they can hold it. The smaller the dog, the less time you can expect them to go without a bathroom break.

If Your Dog Has an Accident

If you catch your dog making a mistake. Interrupt him without being too harsh (“Ah! Ah! Let’s go outside!”), then hustle them outside to finish. If they finish there, praise and reward them. The important thing is to interrupt, not punish. Punishing your dog for accidents can make them afraid to go in front of you, so they hide their mistakes by going behind couches or beds or in closets. Your dog would also become less likely to go in front of you outside, making it impossible to praise them and to make them understand what you want them to do.

If your dog makes a mistake while you are not there. Don’t scold or punish your dog. They won’t make the connection with their accident—smacking them or rubbing their face in their own mess will just make them afraid of you. Only if you catch them in the act should you respond, otherwise you are too late.

Tip: Clean all accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser (e.g. Nature’s Miracle®, Anti-Icky-Poo®, Petastic®).

Going Forward

After two or three weeks with no accidents, give your dog access to one extra room of the house and supervise closely. If your dog is still accident-free, add another room every two or three weeks.

If you are having trouble, call us (415.554.3074) or visit us for our dog trainer referral list.

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