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So I was thinking that we should pile all of our combined knowledge and experience into one thread and then compile, finalize and edit it down to one post. I will compile it when the thread is done or someone else can but lets get something good going so when new folks come they can look there first for generalized house breaking stuff and then if they still have specific questions we can help more. Watcha think?

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That sounds like a great idea. As well as the general info how about we write about our experiences with different ages and breeds of dog. For example I housebroke an eight-week-old and 6 month old Sheltie puppy the same but differently from my one-year-old German Shepherd rescue. I guess like case studies to add on that might be helpful.

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[color=blue][b][size=6]Housebreaking, New Pup or New Dog to Home or Even Old Dog with Bad Habits.[/size][/b][/color]

[color=orange][b]A few things about the eliminatory practices of dogs.[/b][/color]
1. Unfixed animals will want to mark their territory through elimination. If at all possible fix your dog, it will make your job easier.
2. Puppies and to a lesser extent adult dogs will want to eliminate after sleeping, eating, playing, or drinking. If you are aware of these patterns you will know when to keep an extra close eye on them.
3. With people it usually takes 10 positive experiences to "erase" the effects of 1 negative experience. With dogs and housetraining it is probably more like 25 to 1. Don't let you dog [b]fail[/b] if at all possible, it contributes to untraining.
4. Always let dog out before going out or going to bed.

[color=orange][b]The full method[/b] - some methods may not be nec. for all dogs and not all methods work with all dogs.[/color]
1. Obtain a crate for your dog that is either just big enough for the dog to sit, stand, lie down or turn around in OR get one that will be big enough for you dog when he is full grown and section it off so it is small enough. The reason for this is - if there is extra space your dog may decide it can eliminate in part of the crate and sit in another part. Your dog should if you crate train with care think of its crate as its "den" and dogs rarely soil their own den.
2. Take your dog out after sleeping, eating, drinking or playing. Allow 5 min. for elimination. If the dog goes, praise and play for another 5 min outside. If the dog does not go, bring back in and crate for 15-25 min depending on eliminatory capacity of dog. Do not punish the crating is just to ensure they eliminate no where else - crating should not be a punishment ever if possible. After the 15-25 min wait take bake out, allow 5 min . . . repeat as nec.
3. If your dog is sneaking off to eliminate elsewhere in the house - leash him/her to you. Usually you only have to do this for two weeks. This ensures that the dog can only have successes because you are right there to watch them. Even if unleashed, unless your dog is very reliably housetrained he/she should be in your sight at all times so they are not able to fail. Keep in mind a puppy of two weeks is the equivilant of an infact, even a 1 year old dog is still in its childhood. You wouldn't leave a small child unnattended they would make [b]mistakes[/b].
4. If your dog is paticularly difficult to housetrain make use of a schedule. Modify times to suit your schedule and your dogs capacities. This is the schedule I used for Zaphod who was a 8 week old mutt that we got from the shelter (used to eliminating inside only.)
i. ) Up and Outside for 5 min
ii.a) If he eliminated praise and play for 5 min.
iii.a) Then loose in the house but always in sight for 20 min. In this time towards the end I might play with or feed him.
iv.a) Crate for 5 min - this ensures that he is ready to eliminate when he goes out, expands eliminatory control and ensures no mistakes are made in the house.
v.a) Back to step i.
ii.b) If the dog had not eliminated in this step we do not praise or play and no punishment. However we do not have the extra 5 min outside play session.
iii.b) Back inside and into the crate for 25 min. No fuss or punishment, in fact I use this time to crate train by putting toys in there and saying "Crate" putting him in there, giving him a treat and telling him how good he is. I may feed him in crate after 10 min. in the crate but not after 20 min.
iv.b) Back to step i.
Gradually you can increase the time loose in the house and the buildup time in the crate before being let outside and the overall time in the crate. Make sure crate time is positive time and remember to consider how much time your dog is spending in the crate throughout the entire 24 hour period.
Note there is no scolding for accidents inside unless caught in the act. Even when I caught my boys in the act I simply said no sternly and transferred them outside right away.

[color=orange]Chewing and Transitioning from Crate[/color]
Keeping your pup always insight and using the above methods will also help in keeping them from chewing the wrong things and otherwise doing things you would prefer they not do.
If your dog is chewing something they aught not, take it from them abruptly while saying no or dropit if you prefer - seem very stern and annoyed. Replace the inappropriate item with a dog safe chew toy and if the dog chews or mouths it or picks it up - praise. For some dogs bitter apple spray can be used for items they just have a hard time leaving alone.
You can also make shaker can "pit traps." Get a pop can, fill with nuts, screws, beads etc, anything that will make a lot of noise. Tape opening closed, attatch thread to this and the item - such as slice of pizza. Leave trapped slice of pizza "unattended" somewhere high enough that the can can fall a good distance and make some good noise when the theft occurs. Not good for hunting dogs who are not sound sensitive or whom you do not want to sensitize to sound.
In transitioning form crate to loose in the house you just start small. Maybe 5 min while your upstairs, then 5 min while your out and just keep expanding time slowly if you experience success, if not - back to the crate. It took me a year to be able to have Kavik loose in the house but by then I had Zaphod and they seem to prefer to be together so they were both crated together till Zaphod caught up. We are currently using the kitchen as a half way step to being fully loose. We ensured the kitchen was pretty free of damagables and temptation and gate them in there while we are out, we will move on from here.
Some things are just to tempting for some dogs - garbage cans, toilet paper, your underwear, tv remotes etc. Keep them out of reach or close doors to bathrooms and bedrooms while you are out.

[color=orange]ON CRATES[/color]
Wire vs Plastic
Wire crates are more durable but Plastic might look better in your living room and crates should be in an area where people most often are that way it is not seen as punishment to crate the dog. (Dogs are highly pack oriented.)
Wire crates allow the dog to see around but plastic crates being more enclosed may feel more secure to yoru dog. In this case you can just try to guess what would be more important to your dog.
Wire crates may allow dog to pull items through bars to chew on, plastic crates resrict ease of you dropping things through the bars for your dog.
Wire crates - easily sanitized but so many little parts. Plastic crates will be harder to get certain scents out of but are easy to clean in that they are mostly flat surfaces.

Crates should never be punishment.
Crates can be time out places.
Puppies eat crate cushions.
As a general rule maximim time in crate is 1 hour per 1 month of age but all dogs are different. So a 4 month old pup should spend a max of 4 hours in a crate and then will need out to eat, drink, play etc. Max time in crate should be 8 hours for most dogs, some will tolerate 10 but this is an extrordinary amount of time locked up without food or water or room to play.
Food and sometimes water are often left out of crate if dog will be confined for long periods so dog doesn't eat or drink all right away and then suffer needing to eliminate for hours.
A crate is not where your dog should spend most of its life.
Some dogs can be trained more easily using a crate and xpen.
Start crate training early and make games of it, make it fun. Crate the dog for short periods while you are present, work your way up. Praise and treat in crate. For extra effect feed and water your dog in crate it increases the positive association with the crate.

How's that, any additions or disagreements.

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  • 6 months later...

I have a 5 month old Shitzu/poodle and he seems to prefer to eliminate in the house. The person I got him from told me he was house broken ... I'm not sure what she things housebroken is. I found out she kept him mainly in a bathroom. He seems to prefer to lay in his urine, so I don't think the crate will work b/c he will eliminate then lay in it. So I have to bath him everyday. He also likes to go in the bathtub. One time I was in the shower he jumped in and elimated (feces)! I'm having trouble.... which is a understatement.

I have been taking him out and praising him and giving him a treat when he goes outside.... someimes I have to wait a very long time. Sometimes he doesn't go outstide but then he goes right when we go inside. He will go on newspaper but will even lay on the used newspaper. Even when he goes outside he goes on the walkway most of the time.

Please give me some advice!!!

I've housebroken quite a few puppies... and this is a very unusual case. However I have never had such an old puppy.

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Wow, this sounds tough.

I would go with a very scheduled regime and leash him to you and watch him like a hawk, if he goes to make a mistake wisk him outside right away. You'll need to get to know his body language well. If you want to discuss a schedule more pm me.

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Thanks for your reply.

I have tried leashing him to me... he's so small and close to the ground it's hard to catch him. As soon as I do catch him I take him outside. I can't believe he peed and pooped on my couch. Like I said before I take him into the bathroom with me. He pretty much stays right under my feet at all times. He's does sometimes use the newspaper. I at least goes outside sometimes. I leave the door open all the time when we are home b/c I know he won't let me knw when he needs to go outside.

I will just keep at it... it's just frustrating. I'm really upset with the women I got him from b/c it's so much easier to house train when they are younger. I think she just let him live in his waste.

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Short of a vetrinary problem or a trip to a behaviourist I think your doing everything right. I would just keep at it and use a shedule and get her out maybe as often as once every 20 min until she gets it. I feel so bad that the person you got her from mislead you. :( You could try clicker training for when she is good outside and a shaker can for when she is bad indoors, you'd have to keep both on you at all times. There are some pretty inovative people here, maybe they'll have more suggestions for you.

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I just got back from the Vet. They said he's physically fine. They gave me a name of a trainer. I called her and she is going to do an assessment.

More bad news. I left him in the car for a few minutes and when I came back he had pood and somehow got it all over both of my front seats.... all over the interior.... so I'm not off to get my car shampooed. This is the 2nd time that has happened. He had only been in the car for a short ride. Not getting much work done today.

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I have found with dirty kennel dogs that scheduled walks work wonders. Some times dogs find that marking and leaving their scent on top of another scent is very gratifying.
Some dogs look so forward to their scent marking and poop leaving hikes that they learn to hold themselves until its time to go. I put some of my dirty rescues on a schedule for their hikes so they got into a routine. It also had to be around a neighborhood where other dogs are leaving their marks so my dogs could mark on top. I never had much luck just expecting these dogs to learn to go in my yard. I also took them out quite often at first until they got used to looking forward to their marking hikes. Then I cut them back to 3 hikes a day. Let them sniff and stop alot during the walk, when they mark an area praise them. By the way, all of my dogs were spayed and nuetered so to mark and gossip with neighborhood dogs did not require and intact animal.

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Read this as well.

What are the best methods for housebreaking a puppy?

A. If your dog is going to live inside the home, and in America over 90% of our pets do, you are going to have to go through the housebreaking process unless you have grossly different hygienic standards than most. It is not hard, it need not be messy, and it need not be a struggle. It does not have to take a long time. Remember that it is a training issue and you will need to have more than casual input. It will take some of your time but the more involved you get, the shorter that span will be.
The Rules

Housebreaking Rule Number One: This is The Most Important Rule – If you don't catch your puppy doing it - then don't punish him for it!

Housebreaking Rule Number Two: Praise your puppy when things go right. Don't let this be a situation where your only action is saying "No" when they are caught in the midst of using the wrong area. If they do it right – let them know!

Methods of housebreaking

Starting Inside: There are several ways to housebreak a puppy. With the first, you can put down papers or pretreated pads, encouraging them to use these areas for going to the bathroom. The pads are scented with a chemical that attracts the puppy to use them. Whenever you see them starting into their "pre-potty pattern," such as walking around and sniffing the floor, you gently pick them up without talking and carry them over to the papers/pad and then praise them when they go to the bathroom (Rule 2).

When all goes well and they are using the papers consistently, the papers are either moved closer to the door and/or another set is placed outside. The transition is made from concentrating the toilet habits to one spot inside the home to one spot outside the home. Finally, the papers inside are eliminated. The only problem with this method is that for a period of time it encourages the animal to eliminate inside the home. In our experience, housebreaking may take longer when this method is used.

Crate Training: The second popular method of housebreaking involves the use of a crate or cage. The often-stated reasoning is that the animal is placed in a cage that is just large enough to be a bed. Dogs do not like to soil their beds because they would be forced to lay in the mess. It works, and while in these confines, most pups will control their bladder and bowels for a longer time than we would expect. Young puppies, at 8 or 9 weeks of age can often last for 7 or 8 hours, however, we would never recommend leaving them unattended in a crate for that long in most circumstances.

During housebreaking, whenever the puppy is inside the home but cannot be watched, he is placed in the crate. This might be while you are cooking, reading to the children, or even away from the home. The last thing you do before you put the puppy in the crate is take him outside to his favorite spot. The first thing you do when you take the animal out of the crate is another trip outside. No food or water goes in the crate, just a blanket and maybe a chew toy to occupy his time. Overnight is definitely crate time. As your faith in the puppy grows, leave him out for longer and longer periods of time.

Most people do not recognize an important advantage of crate training. It does more than just stop the animal from messing in the house. It also teaches the puppy something very important. The puppy learns that when the urge to urinate or defecate occurs, he can hold it. Just because the pup feels like he needs to relieve himself, the pup learns that he does not have to. This is thought to be the main reason why puppies that have gone through crate training have fewer mistakes later on.

Make sure you buy the right size cage. You want one that has the floor space that provides just enough for the puppy to lie down. But cages are useful throughout a dog's life and it would be nice if you did not have to keep buying more as he grows. That is not necessary. Simply purchase a cage that will be big enough for him as an adult, but choose a model that comes with or has a divider panel as an accessory. With these, you can adjust the position of the panel so that the space inside the cage available to the pet can grow as he does.

Using too large of a crate can often cause long term problems. The puppy will go to one corner of the cage and urinate or defecate. After a while, he will then run through it tracking it all over the cage. If this is allowed to continue, the instincts about not soiling his bed or lying in the mess will be forgotten and the puppy will soon be doing it every day when placed in the crate. Now a housebreaking method has turned into a behavioral problem as the puppy’s newly-formed hygienic habits becomes his way of life.

Constant Supervision: The last method involves no papers, pads, or crates. Rather, you chose to spend all the time necessary with the puppy. This works very well for people who live and work in their homes, retired persons, or in situations where the owners are always with the animal. Whenever they see the puppy doing his "pre-potty pattern" they hustle him outside. It is important that the dog is watched at all times and that no mistakes are allowed to occur. This method has less room for error, as there is nothing like a cage to restrict the animal’'s urges, nor is there a place for him to relieve himself such as on the papers or pad. When he is taken outside, watch the puppy closely and as soon as all goes as planned, he should be praised and then brought back inside immediately. You want the dog to understand that the purpose for going outside was to go to the bathroom. Do not start playing, make it a trip for a reason. Verbal communications help this method and we will discuss them soon. For those with the time, this is a good method. We still recommend having a crate available as a backup when the owners have to be away from the animal.

Verbal cues

Specific verbal communications will also help the two of you understand what is desired. It is an excellent idea to always use a word when it is time to head to the bathroom. We like "Outside?" Remember that whenever you use a verbal command or signal, it is important that everybody in the family always uses the same word in the same way. Think of the word "Outside" in this situation not only as a question you are asking the pup, but also as an indication that you want to go there. Some dogs may get into the habit of going to the door when they want to go outside. This is great when it happens but it is not as common as some believe. We have found that it is better to use verbal commands to initiate this sort of activity rather than waiting for the puppy to learn this behavior on his own. It seems like your consistent use of a word or phrase like "Outside" will cause the puppy to come to you rather than the door when he needs to go outside. The pup quickly sees you as part of the overall activity of getting to where he needs to go. We believe this is much better.

Once outside, we try to encourage the pup to get on with the act in question. We use the phrase "Do your numbers." This is probably a holdover from our own parenthood and hearing children use the "Number 1" or "Number 2" phrases. Others use 'Do It,' 'Potty,' or 'Hurry Up.' As soon as they eliminate, it is very important to praise them with a "Good Dog" and then come back inside immediately. Again, make this trip that started outside with a specific word "Outside" be for a purpose. If we are taking the pup out to play with a ball or go for a walk we will not use this word even if we know they will eliminate while we are outside.

When an 'accident' happens

One of the key issues in housebreaking is to follow Rule Number One: If you do not catch your puppy doing it, then do not punish him for it! We do not care what someone else may tell you or what you read, if you find a mess that was left when you were not there, clean it up and forget it.

Discipline will not help because unless you catch the puppy in the act, he will have no idea what the scolding is for. Your puppy has urinated and defecated hundreds of times before he met you. Mom or the breeder always cleaned it up. Nobody made a fuss before and the pup will not put the punishment, regardless of its form, together with something he has done without incident numerous times before. Especially if he did it more than 30 seconds ago! Puppies are just like our children. Unless something was really fun (and a repetitious act like going to the bathroom is not), they are not thinking about what they did in the past. They are thinking about what they can do in the future. At this point in his life a puppy's memory is very, very poor.

Anyway, let us face it. It was your fault, not the pup's. If you had been watching, you would have noticed the puppy suddenly walking or running around in circles with his nose down smelling for the perfect spot to go to the bathroom. It is just as consistent as the taxi cab driver behind you honking immediately when the light changes. The puppy will show the same behavior every time. It may vary a little from pup to pup but they always show their own "pre-potty pattern" before the act.

The same should be said as to your first reaction when you actually catch them in the act of urinating or defecating. It is your fault, you were not watching for or paying attention to the signals. Do not get mad. Quickly, but calmly pick them up and without raising your voice sternly say "No." Carry them outside or to their papers. It will help to push their tail down while you are carrying them as this will often help them to stop urinating or defecating any more.

They are going to be excited when you get them outside or to the papers, but stay there with them a while and if they finish the job, reward them with simple praise like "Good Dog."

Housebreaking Rule Number One: If you don't catch your puppy doing it, then don't punish him for it!
In the disciplining of dogs, just like in physics, every action has a reaction and for training purposes these may not be beneficial! If you overreact and severely scold or scare the heck out of a puppy for making what is in your mind a mistake, your training is probably going backwards. With housebreaking this is especially difficult for them to understand as they are carrying out a natural body function. Carried one step farther is the idea of rubbing a puppy's nose into a mistake he made, whether you caught him or not. In the limits of a puppy’s intelligence, please explain to us the difference of rubbing his nose in his mess he left in your kitchen an hour ago versus the one the neighbor's dog left in the park two weeks ago. If the dog were smart enough to figure all of this out, the only logical choice would be to permanently quit going to the bathroom. Punishment rarely speeds up housebreaking. Often, it makes the dog nervous or afraid every time it needs to go to the bathroom.

We will give you a perfect example of how this kind of disciplining causes long-term problems between a dog and his owner. A client makes an appointment to discuss a housebreaking problem. They are hoping that on physical exam or through some testing we can find a medical reason for the animal's inability to successfully make it through housebreaking. They readily admit their frustration with the dog. The fecal and urine tests reveal no problem. We assumed that would be the case and have no intention of charging for those services. In the examination room, the pup is showing a lot more interest in the veterinarian than he is in his owners. The animal's eyes are almost saying, "Please kidnap me from them." When the owner reaches down to pet the dog on his head, the pup reflexively closes his eyes and turns his head to the side. The dog reacts as if he were going to be hit. What this tells us is that the dog has been punished for making messes in the owners' absence. During this punishment the puppy is not, and we repeat, the puppy is not thinking about what he might have done two hours ago. He is not thinking that he should not make messes in the house. The animal is not even thinking about the messes.

The classic line that usually goes with this scenario then comes up "When we get home we know he has made a mess because he always sulks or runs and hides!" The dog is not thinking about some mistake he may have made. Rather, the pup has learned that when the people first get home, for some reason he has yet to figure out, they are always in a bad mood and he gets punished. The puppy has decided that maybe he would be better to try to avoid them for awhile so he does try to hide. In this particular case, discipline, misunderstood by the puppy, has caused him to fear his owners and this will probably affect their relationship throughout the life of the dog.

If you want housebreaking to go quickly, regardless of the method you use, spend as much time as possible with your puppy. In an exam room, one of us once listened to a client complain about how he had to take some time off from work for his own mental health and also, but unrelated, how the puppy was not doing too well in the housebreaking department. For us this statement was just too good to be true. It was the perfect set-up for our pitch. This gentleman, a bachelor, truly loved his puppy. We saw them together everywhere. Still, the problem was that he worked in a downtown office and the pup was home. His work allowed him to get home frequently but not always on a consistent schedule. There would be accidents when he was gone and sometimes he was gone longer than the abilities or the attention span of the puppy.

The solution was easy. We simply suggested his health and the puppy's training would both do better if he stayed home for a week or so. It worked. Under the man's watchful eye, he was always there at the time when he was needed and in less than seven days the ten-week-old puppy was trained. We are not saying there was never another accident, but they were few and far between. In the end, the best of all worlds occurred. The man realized his dog could be trusted, and thereafter, they spent their days together at the man's office.

Feeding and housebreaking

The feeding schedule you use can help or hinder housebreaking. You will soon notice that puppies will need to go outside soon after they wake and also within 30 to 40 minutes after eating. Be consistent when you feed the animal so you can predict when they need to relieve themselves. Plan your trips outside around these patterns.

All of this may seem simple, and it really is. The keys are that it will take time and you must be consistent. And, of course, you must never lose your temper or even get excited.

Spontaneous or submissive urination

Puppies may spontaneously urinate when excited. This may be when they first see you, at meeting a new dog, or when they are scared. It is often referred to as submissive or excitement urination. Do not discipline the puppy for this, as it is something they cannot control. Simply ignore it and clean up the mess. If you do not overreact, they will usually outgrow this between 4 and 7 months of age.


Your new puppy is home and you have started the housebreaking process. This is just as much a part of training as the "Come" and "Stay" commands. However, mistakes that occur with housebreaking can cause more problems between you and your pet than those encountered with any other form of training. Be patient and stay calm.

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  • 1 year later...

My dog would aim out of a crate to urinate, spraying it everywhere. He did this when he hit 5 months old. Sometimes he'd push the pan out with his feet and went on the floor. I wish I had neutered him when he was younger before this behavior began. He is 6 months and just got neutered last week. If you have a male dog you may want to neuter him before the marking behavior has gone on for a month, you may want to do it long before it even starts.

Be cautious of puppy pads too unless you want your dog possibly eliminating in the same spot with that habit to break. My dogs favorite place is by the fireplace where I had the pads for him the first week I got him. I have used a scat mat so when he sneaks off to poop and pee in the area he gets an aversive reaction. My puppy is large and the setting is low, I tested it on my own hand and it is enough just to be unpleasant. So far he comes to me to go outside a lot more than he did before.

My dog is hardly housetrained yet, but improved and I have come across unusual issues that I had to be creative on. Doing it by the books wouldn't work and it took me a while to realize that. Just because it is in a book doesn't make it right for you.

Keep in mind too a dog that is 6 months can hold it for 7 hours, so he may wake you up at night and if you are in a deep sleep he may eliminate in the house. If you are at work and no one can take him out he will eliminate. I was naive in realizing how often puppies eliminate until they are at least several months old.

Clean any area throughly with a pet deodorizer made for that purpose ASAP. And do whatever works for your dog. Some dogs it may take several months, other dogs 1 week. I would never hit my dog or shake him but a good tone of dissapointment and dissaproval at the time it happens go a long way. Ignoring the dog for a few minutes to show you are not happy with him works too.

This has only been my experience I thought I'd share. It depends on the breed, the age, the personality. What works for my dog may not work for yours and don't be afraid to get creative.

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  • 3 years later...

I can remember almost 30 years ago my mother bought me a home interior picture that was in a very heavy metal frame with a rounded glass, the print was a small boy kneeling and praying into a beam shining down on him.
I know that I have seen the picture in some bibles and I would like to know the name of the print. I would also know how I might be able to buy the picture, frame, glass etc. that was purchased for me.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 9 years later...

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