House Training Advice

Handling Your Dog at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a fun time for family and friends to gather, and enjoy delicious foods. However, it can be a stressful time for your dog, with so many new faces in the house, a variety of yummy food, and lots of commotion. It’s important to make sure your dog is prepared for these changes. Check out these tips to ensure Thanksgiving goes smoothly for both you and your pet!

Review Commands

Now is the time to practice basic commands with your dog to prepare him for all the extra commotion during the holidays. Sit, stay and heal are all good commands to refresh with your dog before the guests arrive. The last thing you want is your dog to charge the front door and knock the pumpkin pie right out of someone’s hands!

Establish Safe Spot

Does your dog have a special place in your home that he goes when feeling overwhelmed or scared? If not, now is the perfect time to establish a spot for him to go when he needs a minute to regroup during all the chaos. Even the friendliest of dogs can become aggressive when he feels threatened by unfamiliar faces or other dogs. Be sure to discuss with your guests if they’ll be bringing their furry friends, and prepare accordingly.

Limit Begging

At Thanksgiving, it can be especially hard for your dog to control his begging. But with all the mouthwatering food in your house, can you blame him? You can try to help reduce the begging by making sure you feed your dog either right before, or during the serving process so he doesn’t feel deprived. You can also choose to keep your dog in a separate room during the meal so he won’t bother your guest for food.

No Dessert

We know, it can be hard to say no to the puppy eyes when you bring out the pies and other sweet treats. But remember, these goodies are not healthy for your dog and can pose health risks. Try making them their own “pet-friendly” dessert that they can enjoy with you.

Keep Trash out of Sight

Turkey carcasses that are left out or in a trash bin that could be easily opened can be quite dangerous to your pet. Dispose of the turkey carcass and bones in a tightly secured bag, and either take out immediately or leave behind a closed, locked door.


House Training: the Practical Way

Most of the time house training is a simple enough process. It does, however, require lots of patience. The main principles of house training (watch your dog, react in the correct way to whatever happens, schedule walks, feeding, and water) are easy enough to understand but knowing the training principles is one thing and implementing them effectively is a different story.

House Training with a Crate

Things you will need to house train your dog:

  • A Crate-large enough only for your dog to stand, lay down and turn around in
  • A Leash
  • Your shoes and coat stashed near by
  • The ability to pay attention
  • Energy to complete the task

Things that you might need:

  • Shaker can (coke can with pennies inside, and duct tape on top)
  • Squire bottle or water gun. Filled with water.

This house training approach will work for any dog that eliminates indoors, but will not go if he is in a crate. I have used this approach with dogs of all ages. I can guarantee that this approach will work with any dog that will not eliminate in a crate. With this training and like all training, the key is consistency. If you stick with it and don’t give up, it will work .

We will use the crate because we know that the dog will not eliminate when in the crate, which we will use to our advantage. We put the dog in the crate whenever we are not watching him. We schedule when the dog will be out for walks, runs, play sessions and we know when that dog will be out to hang around in the house.

Your dog will need to be watched anytime he is out of the crate. Especially in the beginning it is important to pay close attention to him. Every dog has a signal that they give right before they eliminate. The signal might be a quick circle, a lot of sniffing, scratching the ground, or abruptly leaving your sight. Their signal can be any change in behavior that looks different than the behavior directly before it. The idea is to learn your dog’s signal so that you can interrupt it earlier in the process. You should learn to predict at the first sign that your dog is going to have an accident, and interrupt him before he completely evacuates his system. We do not want him to have the comfortable feeling of evacuating his system when inside the house. We need to make it clear that eliminating in the house is unwanted and not as comfortable for him as going outside. It just continues to require attention!

Check back for more updates and steps which are crucial in house training your dog.


Importance of a consistent schedule while house training

The key to successful house training is to have a consistent schedule. That means consistent feeding and watering times and also outdoor times. You will need to feed your dog at a set time. No free feeding during house training. I know that some people choose to leave food out for their dog so that the dog can eat whenever he is hungry. That is fine normally, but during house training you will need to get your dog to eat on a schedule. A schedule is important because if you know when the food and water are being consumed then you will soon have an idea how long after eating your dog will eliminate. You should be able to predict at what time during the day your dog will need to eliminate to within a window of 30-45 mins.

Don’t forget to schedule water too. In the wild, dogs do not have access to food and water 24 hours a day. They have access to food when it is available and access to water when they travel to that resource.  Below is a sample schedule. Adjust it accordingly for your household. You may be able to skip the 11am-1pm outing, or the 5pm- 6pm outing with older dogs, or dogs that you have a good idea of waste elimination times. I also did not include playtime or other activities that your dog may need.

Sample Schedule
7:00 am outside for morning bathroom
7:15 am fed breakfast, given water
By 9:00 am let out for short walk (no more than 20 min)
11:00 am – 1:00 pm outside again, given water.
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm out again
7:00 pm fed dinner and given water
8:30 pm-10:00 pm let out

Make your schedule and stick to it. If you take your dog for a walk or to play at the park, schedule that time as an eliminations break. Be certain that you confirm your dog has eliminated, and don’t forget to pick up any waste. You can learn a lot about the quality of food that a dog eats by the state of their solid waste. It the stool is firm and compact then the dog’s diet is healthy. Everything is connected; the quality of food affects dog behavior.

Making your schedule and sticking by it is the first rule in the process of house training your dog.


House Training: Discipline

Discipline is a crucial part of training your dog. When a dog starts to go to the bathroom in the house, on the inside you want to be calm, but on the outside you want to make a ruckus. You want to get your dog’s attention and stop him in midstream. I have had success by clapping my hands, stomping my feet, raising my voice, shouting, but NOT shouting AT the dog. The message that I want to send is when you eliminate in the house, the house goes crazy. You do not go crazy, but the house does. For some dogs, you may need a shaker can or a water squirt bottle.

At the same time, start the process of rushing him outside. In the winter it is wise to be prepared to jump into your coat and shoes. Then clip the leash on and rush your dog outside. Puppies may have the leash on already; also dogs that are difficult to get a hand on may also use a drag leash. It is best if the dog walks out on his own, try to resist carrying small dogs. Once you and your dog is outside “Post Up”. This means stand in one spot and do not walk around. If it is a puppy or excited dog she may want to walk, play or do something else. Just wait for her to calm down sniff and eliminate. This will normally take less than 10 minutes. If your dog does not go after ten minutes just go back inside. If he does go, pet him, praise him, feel free to give him a treat, take him for a short walk or play with him outside.  If you always bring the dog right back inside he might hold off on going to get more time outside. When you return inside place the dog in the crate while you clean up, because you cannot clean and watch at the same time. 


House Training: Clean Up

Clean up is simple if you are prepared. First of all, the area where your dog is allowed during house training should have a floor that can be wiped clean and dry. It isn’t very good or fun to house train on carpet. Use Simple Solution Stain and Odor Remover, Nature’s Miracle or some other enzyme based cleaner and follow the instructions on the bottle. Enzymes actually eat the odor molecules, so make certain that there are enzymes in your cleaner. Dogs have powerful noses and they tend to “make a mistake” where they smell that there were mistakes in the past. The idea is to move all signs of mistakes or elimination outside, to the spot where you “Post Up”.

Stick with this process. If you are good at paying attention and your dog does not have a serious habit of making mistakes it will take one or two mistakes for your dog to get it. If you need practice paying attention, you will get practice before your dog learns to eliminate outside. If your dog has a serious habit of going indoors then it will take longer for you to make the point.

The “point” that we are trying to make to our dogs is: as a family, we agree we do not eliminate waste in indoor living areas, unless that area was built for that purpose. I consider a dog trained if the dog has not had a mistake in the house for 21 days. Three weeks is long enough to make a new habit.

Remember trust is earned. After awhile you will feel more comfortable with them and trust that he will not go in the house. If he regress and goes once, start all over from the beginning with the crate. You need to let them re-earn your trust. It will be worth it! 

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