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Breaking Down Housebreaking

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Housetraining a new dog can be stressful, frustrating, and sometimes seem futile, but don’t give up! The number one reason dogs are returned to shelters is because they have behavioral problems, and not being housebroken is often one of those. We don’t want the frustration of training to break that loving bond that should form between you and your pet. Instead, listen to some important housetraining tips to make that bond even stronger by supporting and teaching your dog the right way to behave:

Consistency is Key

When housetraining doesn’t seem to work, one of the most common reasons why is that there is a lack of structure in the training. To stay consistent, try:

  • Mapping out a specific area for the pet to do their business. This is most often simply the backyard when you’re housetraining dogs to go outside, but with smaller dogs that may use pee-pads indoors, it is important to give them a specific area to use those pee-pads, rather than putting pads throughout the house and letting them go wherever. With the latter approach, they will not learn that it is necessary to use those pads, just that they can go anywhere. When you think it is time for them to go, place them on the padded area, make sure they go on that area, and then shower them with praise and affection.
  • Using the same rewards and reward-timing each time the dog goes to the bathroom where you want them to go. Dogs respond best to positive feedback, so after they go, be sure to praise and reward them every time until they’re finally housebroken.
  • Keeping a schedule of when the dog must use the bathroom. This helps in predicting future bathroom trip necessities, so you know when the best time is to let them out. Dogs are more regular than you might think. You'll probably want to let them out a bit after they eat or drink. Liquid generally takes 30 minutes to pass through and solids generally take 60 minutes to pass through.

Positive Reinforcement vs. Punishment

Again, dogs react best to positive feedback. They often don’t understand negative feedback. Many owners get frustrated during the process and scold dogs for going in the wrong place, or even physically punish them. All this tells the dog is that they shouldn’t go to the bathroom in front of you. They can’t understand what it is they are supposed to do until you reward them for doing that. Because of this, it’s important to:

  • Stay calm. Accidents are annoying and can press your buttons, but they will happen, and you must stay the course.
  • Remember that scolding the dog can hurt the process more in the long run. Frequent scolding and punishment can cause the dog to become anxious, hurting the bond between you and your loved one, and making them so stressed that it’s hard for them to understand what to do.

Use Housetraining Products Strategically

Pets Plus offers various products that can help with housetraining and for cleaning up accidents.

  • For cleaning, try Wee Wee Sprays (including options for treating hardwood floor stains or severe carpet stains), Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Products (including a No More Marking Spray), and Earth Rated all natural cleaner.
  • For training, we have Wee Wee Pads (disposable and available in assorted absorbencies, sizes, and quantities), Four Paws Potty Patch artificial grass in either small or medium size for pets going indoors, and Poochie Bells, which are potty-training bells so you can train your dog to tell you when they need to go outside.

Ask for Advice. Don’t be scared to just come into the store and ask an employee for advice about what can help your dog. Different breeds need different things and different ways of training. We’re always here to help! 

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