How to House Break a Dog
As I’ve already stated in my discussion on how to potty train a puppy, the first thing you need to do is to get
rid of this idea of house breaking your dog. You don’t need to use harsh words or intimidation
to train him. Your dog likes you and wants to please you. If you want to house train your older dog so that he consistently goes outside on command, all you need
to do is to make things plain to him and work with him. With a little patience he will be
toilet trained ( in a dog sense) in no time.
Before you start on a program of house training your dog, however, the first thing you need to determine is if your
dog’s house piddling isn’t the result of other factors. For example, if your adult dog was housetrained but has seemingly forgotten the potty rules, there is a
good chance some kind of illness might be a factor. For example, a bladder infection can cause
a dog to urinate at odd times. Take your pet to a veterinarian to determine if this isn’t the
case. If your dog is “leg lifting”, urinating in small amounts all over the place, this could
be a problem of dominance. Your dog is not accepting you as leader of the pack and is
constantly marking his territory. If this is the case, you will need to get help from a
professional dog trainer. Neutering may also may help in situations like
If you determine that your dog’s poor housetraining is a result of poor learned behaviour, you can correct
this. It can be a little more difficult than training a puppy, simply because your
dog will have to unlearn some bad habits as well. Nonetheless, the underlying theory is the
same. In order to properly housetrain a dog, you need to limit his options so that he can
succeed, and you need to praise him when he does. In this way, your dog will be able to learn
for himself the correct way to “go potty”.
Here is the program you will need to follow for at least two weeks.
The first thing you will need to do is to leash your dog to yourself when he is in your house.
This is the only way you can properly monitor him at all times, which you need to do. If he
starts to go, issue a strong “no” and then take him outside. Once outside at the appropriate
dumping ground, give your command (“go potty”, “hurry up”, etc) and let him do his thing. Once
finished, make sure you praise him extensively before bringing him back inside.
When your dog is inside, if he is not on a leash attached to you, he should be in his crate. Some people find it easier to crate a puppy than an adult dog, but there really is no
difference. As long as your dog is getting the exercise he needs, there is no problem putting
him in his crate. If you feel your dog would like it, feel free to put some chew toys in there
with him, or maybe play some music for him. Remember, an adult dog can hold it for a long
time, so use the crate to your advantage (for more on crate training, see the housetraining your
You will want to take your adult dog out of the house at least three times a day. Once in the morning, as soon as you get home from work, and just before you go to bed. Always remember to praise your dog when he goes on command at the proper designated
After two weeks, you can start to increase your dog’s freedom. Let him have access to
a single room without being on a leash. If he obeys the potty rules, let him
have access to another room. Continue to grant your dogs this freedom, one room at a time,
until he has access to your entire house (or at least the rooms you want him to have access too). If he ever starts to fall back into his former bad habits, you will need to crate and leash him
There is one other behavioural trait that you should be aware of when it comes to adult dogs. If your dog urinates right in front of you, this is actually a sign of respect and submission on
his part. Your dog is actually very sensitive and lacks confidence, and is urinating
in front of you as a sign of deference. Animal psychologists call this behaviour submissive
urination. If this happens to you, the worst thing in the world that you can do is to punish
your dog. This will only make you seem even more dominant, and will only erode your dog’s
confidence further. Rather, you need to approach this as a relationship problem between you
and your dog. He will need gentle obedience training and lots of encouragement to feel
better. Once your dog regains his confidence and his sense of where he belongs in your own
family pack, the public displays of urination will cease.
I hope you find this helpful!
PS If you need more information on how to housebreak a dog, you may want to check out the fantastic program that Dove Cresswell has put together. Dove is a professional trainer from Vancouver
(my hometown!) who trains dogs for movies and television. Her course uses online video's to make things really clear. Click here or on the picture to check her program out.