Welcome new dog, be house broken quicky!

Here are some tips on potty training/house breaking that I’ve used on new dogs that come to stay at my house.

Before settling into my place, I take the new dog out for a nice long walk with my boys and allow ample opportunities to make poop and pee outside. I like to tell my dogs “go pee” or “go poo” while they are doing it. Dogs can learn many words, let them associate doing their business with a word you’d like to use, it could be; “go potty”, “do your business”, or “hurry up”. It can make your life easier down the road when you need them to go before you head out of the house. And I always praise after they’ve done it outside.

Before they enter my house, I make sure that the new dog is the last dog to enter. Humans enter my house first, then my dogs, and then the new dog in a calm state. If a dog is staying with me for a few days, humans still enter first but I will let the dogs decide their entry to the house on the second day. As long as they enter calmly, I’m cool with it. Bolt is pretty chill with new dogs and is usually the last to come in by the second day, we always joke that he’s the last dog on the totem pole.

When I enter the house, I like to keep the new dog on a leash and tethered to me until I can trust him or her to be off leash in my house. I call it my umbilical cord method, sometimes I tie the end of the leash to my belt loop on my pants or around my waist and the new dog will go where I go.

I’ll introduce the new dog to different parts of my home that they are allowed to be in and say “no” towards areas I don’t want them to go into (yet). So, for the most part, dogs in my house are allowed in my foyer, office, living room, and kitchen. I say “no” towards the hallway to the bathroom and bedroom, “no” at the stairs going down (we live in a bungalow), “no” at the furniture (sofa), and “no” at the laundry/groom room.

Creating boundaries from the start and reminding them whenever they go towards the forbidden zones with a “no” or “NUH uH!” helps establish that it’s not their house and keeps them from getting into trouble. The expectations are clear and most dogs respect it when it’s consistently enforced. The odd time, I’ll put up a baby gate at the hallway and the stairs if I don’t trust the dog to keep my boundaries.

Boundaries in my house is not to say they will never go into the groom room or on my furniture, I just want them to go on my terms and not theirs. Eventually the tether (leash) comes off or I let it drag on the floor but I’ll keep the new dog in the same room as me by enclosing the area with a pen/ baby gate or close the door of my kitchen and office. New dogs can get into things and it’s better to catch them before or in the act than afterwards. My goal for the dogs in the house is to be calm, resting and relaxed.

Next thing I do to set them up for success is to schedule their food and water so I know what goes in and I can plan for when they need to go outside to eliminate. It would be unfair, in my opinion, to be upset with a dog that pees or poops in the house if I had a huge bowl of water and food out all day and not give enough breaks outside.

Here’s an example of a day: 7am -potty break, 7:30am -food and water (breakfast), 8:30am -potty break, then crate time/rest time. 12pm -offer water, 1pm – go for walk. 4pm – offer water, 4:30pm go for a walk. 7pm -food and water (dinner), 8pm – go for a walk. One last potty break in the yard before I sleep (10pm-midnight).

I offer water at different times in the day, see if they drink, then give them opportunities to pee/poop about an hour later. With puppies I would take them out every hour or every other hour that they are awake. It gives me an idea on how quickly they process water/food and need to eliminate. I don’t leave water on the ground until I can trust them and myself to know how long they can hold in their pee/poop.

I don’t leave their food on the ground for a two main reasons. First of all, I want them to know where the food comes from, from me! Secondly, I give them a window of opportunity for food, take it or wait til next meal time. I want to build a pattern of food and elimination in their system, they’ll gobble up their food next time it’s on the ground so I’m not worried. It really helps me know what they eat and drink to calculate when they would need to go out for a potty break. I also cut off their water from 7pm or 8pm til the next morning. This way I don’t worry about them holding a big pee all night. I still give them a last pee break before sleeping, but I wouldn’t offer them a big bowl of water late at night.

In the beginning, when they are tethered to me, I can usually tell when they get ants in their pants and want to pee. Some dogs sniff a lot, turn to the door, or turn in circles looking for a good spot. Depending on their age and how housetrained they were before coming to my house will determine how frequently I take them out and how long I keep them tethered to me.

If the new dog is used to being in a crate, it’s wonderful to put them in when they can not be supervised. If the new dog is a puppy, crate training is a wonderful potty training tool. Before giving them time in a crate, I’m always sure to give them a chance to potty outside, it’s only fair. And when they come out of the crate, I give them a chance to eliminate outside.

If the new dog somehow does end up peeing or pooping in the house, here is how I react. If he is caught in the act and is small enough to carry, I will lift him up and carry him outside and give him praise when he finishes on the grass outside. If he too big to carry, I’ll use the leash to bring him outside and praise him when he is on the grass doing his business. I’ll come back in the house and quietly clean up the mess and continue on as if nothing happened. Dogs do not get any attention from me for making their mistake indoors, but I do make it clear when they are out on the grass doing their business that they are the best dog ever! for peeing and pooping out there.

If the new dog has somehow peed or pooped and I discover it after (which is rare for me), I’d do the same; I woud quietly clean it up, take the dog outside and give him lots of praise when he does its business outside.

Putting the dog’s nose into their business, calling them to come and take a look at their mess while throwing a fit and making a big deal out of it is not going to help the dog understand what you want, instead, it will most definitely teach the dog to hide from you before they pee/poop in the house.

A way I look at mistakes in the house is that it’s a sign of my own irresponsibility for not paying attention to the new dog, maybe I am not taking him out early enough, the dog needs to be taken out more frequently, or maybe I’ve given them my trust a little too early. I would go back to tethering or crating. Take responsibility, it’s not the dog’s fault it is ours. I like to set dogs up for success. The onus is on us, the owner/dog caregiver.

I haven’t dogsat a puppy in a few years, puppies are a lot of work. First of all, their bladders are tiny. They eat and poop, they drink and pee quite often and throughout the day. They have lots of energy and that can stimulate them to want to eliminate. Training their bladder to hold their pee takes some time, patience and ….training! By scheduling their food, and creating a rhythm for them is key.

And whether I’m dog sitting a puppy or an older dog, I like walking them outside to eliminate and to tire them out. When they are indoors, I want them calm, tired, and sleepy. They are less likely to get into mischief when they are tired and less likely to pee/poop indoors when I’ve taken them for a long walk and they have emptied their system.

A word on pee pads.. I’m not a fan of them because I don’t want my house to smell and trust me, the smell will encourage them to continue to pee indoors if it’s not fully cleaned with a good odour neutralizer. I don’t find it natural for dogs to pee indoors, it’s usually a learned habit or marking territory issue. I feel like pee pads give them the “ok” to pee indoors and some dogs will pee on mats and carpets if there isn’t a pee pad, it’s happened at my house with a dog I was dogsitting and I just find that gross. Pee outside! LOL

Now, I understand there should be some exceptions. Ok, some senior dogs may need pee pads or if you live in a condo and you know your dog can’t hold it. Let’s say you’re out at work all day and your dog can’t hold it so you lay down pee pads for them, maybe consider a dog walker to come visit in the middle of the day and take your dog out for a good pee break and walk.

So in a nutshell, when I dogsit I like walking them. It gives them a lot of opportunities to go potty outside, walking them also tires them out and they are more relaxed indoors. I like supervising them indoors by tethering or using enclosures and keeping an eye on them to catch them before they make a potty accident. I like scheduling food and water and giving breaks outside accordingly. All this and voila, they are accident free in my house. Puppy housetraining and dogsitting can be exhausting but very rewarding at the end of the day.