Lakewood Animal Hospital

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8 Tips to Help Break Problem Elimination Habits


Dogs are not born housebroken.  Most puppies however do have a desire to avoid eliminating in their "den".  Using the "den concept" can help you to easily train your new puppy.


  1. Have Realistic Expectations
    Not all dogs have the same ability to hold their urine or feces. 

  2. Provide a "den"
    By crate training your dog, you can use your dog's natural den concept to help prevent indoor elimination.  This is not appropriate for dogs with confinement anxiety.

  3. Stop Using Punishment
    Punishment for "any" behavior is only effective for dogs if it is given consistently and within one or two seconds of the behavior. It only works when the dog is literally caught in the act. Punishment does not work for inappropriate elimination.

  4. Reward Appropriate Elimination
    When your pet eliminates outdoors, give praise or a treat as a reward within one or two seconds of the act.  This will act as a positive for your pet and your dog will start to prefer to outdoor elimination.

  5. Accompany Your Dog Outside
    Go outside with your puppy as often as you can during the learning process.  This will give you many more opportunities to immediately reward outdoor elimination and reinforce this good behavior.

  6. Take Walks
    Take your puppy for a walk about 15-30 minutes after each feeding.  There are several good reasons to do this:
    a.  Puppies are likely to defecate shortly after eating.
    b.  Some outdoor scents can encourage a dog to eliminate.
    c.  Walking your puppy provides opportunities to reward outdoor

  7. Discourage Inappropriate Preferences
    Has your puppy has developed a new habit of eliminating in a particular spot indoors?  This can happen when a puppy has an "accident" and is attracted to the spot by the residual odor even after it's cleaned up.  Temporarily make the inappropriate site less accessible; for example, try stacking books or boxes on it.

  8. Supervise Closely
    Puppies usually signal the need to eliminate by sniffing, circling or acting restless.  Some stand by the door or bark when they need to go out.  Watch to learn your pets signals so you can respond in time to prevent an accident.  As your dog learns the correct behavior, you can gradually reduce your supervision.


***Courtesy of Hills Prescription Diet and Dr. Jacqueline Neilson