Training your dog to eliminate in appropriate places is not particularly difficult. However, it is quite demanding. The most demanding aspect of housebreaking is anticipating when the dog needs to eliminate. Anticipating elimination requires patience and careful supervision. The practices listed below will speed the housebreaking process by using positive reinforcement to train your dog to eliminate in appropriate places, rather than punishing for eliminating in inappropriate places.
1. Limit the time food is available. Feed your dog at regularly scheduled times. Remove the meal(s) after thirty minutes. Your dog will learn to eat when it is meal time. Water should be available with food and throughout the day but note drinking times if possible.
2. Feed a consistent diet. Stay with one brand of dog food and do not add table scraps to the dog's meals. Dogs have sensitive stomachs. The introduction of new foods may result in diarrhea. Keep a pen and paper handy on the counter and jot down the time of the last elimination. This way you will be able to know at a glance when the pup/dog was last out.
3. Use a crate, confine your dog to a small area, or bring the dog along with you on a light leash/cord when the dog cannot be supervised. Dogs are less likely to soil confined areas. Keep dog on a cord or leash tied to your belt loop, under your foot or in your hand or keep it closely supervised in the same room as everyone else. Accidents happen very quickly! IF you should see your pup/dog starting to eliminate say “ROVER! OUTSIDE” and get him/her to the “toilet” area. Prevention and frequent access to the “toilet” area will help reduce accidents!
4. In the beginning, you need to take the dog to the toilet area on leash every half hour for a pup and hour for adult dog. Use the word “Outside” or “Out” as you go through the door to indicate the difference in areas. You can increase the time between trips as the dog becomes more reliable. You also may need to make more frequent trips if the dog starts having more accidents in the house. Excitedly repeat a word such as "Outside" when you are taking the dog toward the door to go out to the toilet area. At this point, observe the way your dog responds to you. In the future this behavior will be exhibited by your dog when it wants to go outside. This will be the behavior that you need to look for in order to pick up on the dog's signal that it needs to go outside. Some dogs are very subtle in signaling you. Other dogs will act very excited. Get to know your dog's particular signal.
6. Give your dog plenty of verbal praise and a treat (or “click” and treat) immediately after he eliminates in the appropriate area. Rewards are critical because they will eliminate any confusion in the dog's mind as to where the toilet area is. If your dog does not eliminate simply do not praise or give a treat, or play, but go back inside and confine the dog and/or keep it very close on lead until the next trip to the toilet area.
7. Do not correct your dog for eliminating in the wrong places. See that as a need to watch her better, but if you catch him/her in the act interrupt and say the dog’s name and “OUTSIDE!” pick up the pup if necessary, grab the leash and get the dog outside to the toilet area.
8. Puppies are unable to go eight hours without eliminating. If possible, come home for lunch, employ someone to come over or lay papers at one end of the crate or the confined area. They will slowly be eliminated later on.
*9. Besides taking the dog out to the toilet at regular intervals, make a trip after the dog eats, drinks, wakes up, and after a training or play session. When the dog suddenly seems distracted, they may need to eliminate.
Sometimes dogs will sniff and/or circle to the left before they eliminate. Watch for these behaviors.
IF YOU CANNOT WATCH THE PUPPY or DOG, EVEN WHILE YOU ARE HOME USE YOUR CRATE, TRAINING CORD, OR PUT THE PUPPY IN ITS CONFINED AREA. PREVENTION IS VERY IMPORTANT. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE HIM OUT TO THE DESIGNATED ELIMINATION AREA EVERY HALF HOUR IF NECESSARY UNTIL YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF HIS BLADDER AND BOWEL HABITS.