Housetraining your pooch involves teaching him to go outdoors on a regular schedule to eliminate. To make cleanup easy and protect your foliage from urine damage, train Fido to use one spot in your yard that's away from any plants. With regular visits to this location, positive reinforcement and proper sanitation, your pooch should acclimate to using his potty spot in no time at all.
Select a spot for your pup to eliminate in your yard that is calm and quiet, with few distractions for your little one. Mark the bathroom spot for your pup so he can easily locate it -- use plants, fencing or a barrier like an exercise pen to delineate the spot. Dog urine can damage your plants and kill your grass, you may want to build a small sandbox or mulch pit for your pup to eliminate in. Cover the area with wood chips or sawdust to distinguish it as the dog's toileting area. Wood chips will absorb the dog's urine and draw him back to the spot to eliminate again, while protecting your grass from urine damage.
Leash your dog. Bring him to the designated spot outdoors. State a command that you can associate with the act of eliminating, like "Go potty" or "Bathroom time." If your pooch urinates or defecates in the elimination spot, immediately praise him and give him some treats. Use the command each time you go to the spot; for a short time you'll treat.
Bring your pup to the designated elimination spot several times each day on a regular schedule. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that adult pooches be allowed bathroom breaks around four times each day. Young puppies can generally hold their urine for an equal number of hours to their age in months. Observe your pooch for signs that he needs to eliminate, such as circling, sniffing, pacing or whining. Bring him to the bathroom spot when you notice these signs. Clap your hands to interrupt an accident-in-progress, then immediately escort Fido to his designated bathroom spot to finish.
After two to three weeks of training, switch from a leash to a longer tether to direct your pooch to the bathroom spot. Continue to praise and treat him after he eliminates in the spot on command. Eventually, after a few more weeks, let him go to the elimination spot himself. While you can reduce the amount of times you treat your pooch, continue to praise him when he visits the spot to eliminate. This will positively reinforce the behavior.
Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleaner -- residual scents of urine and feces can draw your pup back to where he shouldn't go. Don't punish your dog for an accident, which will serve only to scare him. Pick up after your pup when he defecates outside. Wash down concrete areas with a disinfectant. Regularly change any substrate material, such as wood chips, mulch or puppy pads to keep the spot sanitary. A dog won't want to do his business in a spot filled with waste, and it's unhealthy for you, too.
- Modern Dog Magazine: Gardening 101
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Dog Tip: Garden Tips for Dog People
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Potty Areas
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Teaching Your Dog to Eliminate in a Specific Place
- Cesar's Way: Housebreaking Your Puppy: Do's and Don'ts
- Humane Society of Utah: House-Training Puppies
- PetEducation.com: Housetraining
- The Humane Society of the United States: How to Housetrain Your Dog or Puppy
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Adult Dog