How to House Train a Dog

Many owners wonder how to house train a dog. Toilet training a dog is one of the first steps in general obedience training, and an important part of dog behavior training. It isn't difficult, but it does require patience, time and diligence.

Crate Training

Crate training may be most appropriate for those who can't be with their dogs during the day, due to work or other obligations. You should crate your dog or puppy at night or when you can't be there to watch him during the day. Dogs who are confined for long periods of time can develop extreme anxiety and behavior problems, so try to arrange for someone else to spend time with your dog during the day if you can't be there.

Paper and Constant Vigilance Training

Paper training and constant vigilance housebreaking are often just as effective as crate training. Paper training involves teaching the puppy or dog to relieve himself on newspapers or pee pads. Once he understands this concept, paper trainers may begin teaching the dog to relieve himself outdoors. Paper training may be an acceptable option for those who can't be with their dogs all day but aren't comfortable with crate training, because it offers the dog another option when you can't be home to let him outside. Constant vigilance training is similar, but isn't an option for those who can't be home with their dogs all day.

How to House Train a Dog

You should begin housebreaking your dog at about twelve weeks of age. Most puppies lack bladder control before this time. Older dogs can be house trained as well, by the same process, though it may take longer.

Crate training is particularly effective in young puppies. Don't use the crate to punish the puppy. Put him there at night and when you can't be home. Try not to leave him confined for more than a few hours at a time. If possible, have a friend, neighbor or relative spend time with your puppy during the day.

Whatever house training method you choose, remember that your puppy or dog will need to go outside immediately after waking up, and soon after eating or drinking. Choose a spot on your property where you'd like your dog to go to the toilet. Take him to the same spot every time. For consistency, use the same door.

Your dog might not relieve himself right away, so prepare to wait a few minutes. You can encourage your dog to go to the toilet by using commands like "Hurry up!" Praise your dog when he relieves himself in the appropriate place.

Between bathroom breaks, watch your dog for sniffing and circling behaviors that indicate he's looking for a place to relieve himself. If he displays any of these, take him outside. If you catch your dog in the act of relieving himself inside, scold him in a stern voice. However, if he's already committed the act, don't scold him. He won't be able to connect your punishment with his actions.