How to House Train a Dog Without Sacrificing Your Floors
By Jeanne Sager
New puppy owners know they’ll need to learn how to housetrain a dog. But did you know that dogs of any age—from puppies to adult rescues—in new living environments can require training to get fully housebroken? Your adorable furry scamp will likely need a little guidance in its first few weeks in a new home so your floors can be protected and piddle-free.
As long as you’re patient and willing to put in the time (seriously, how much of a choice do you have in the matter?), your pup will learn the correct place to do its business. The tips below will hopefully make the process (mostly) painless and (definitely) efficient.
How to house train a dog
Expect to be very busy in the immediate aftermath of adopting your new pooch. It’s going to need you around to keep it on a strict schedule and direct it to the precise place it’s allowed to do its business.
“The best advice for housetraining a dog (young or old) is to get them on a good schedule,” says Jessa Paschke, training specialist and pet caretaker with Mars Petcare in Franklin, TN. “The first few days they’re in their new home, be sure to take them outside every 20 to 30 minutes, after they wake from sleeping and after eating.”
If you’ve brought home an adult dog, potty training will likely be a quicker process than for a puppy. Just like human babies, puppies are unable to hold their urine for very long. But even an adult dog needs to adjust to your home and develop a signal that it’s ready to go outside.
Being dialed in and kind to your hound is part of good pet ownership. But being especially hands-on during the first couple of weeks of a dog settling into your home can also save you a lot of headache—and, in worst-case scenarios, home renovation expenses. When dogs do their business outside, reward their good behavior with praise or treats.
If you see puddles on your recently mopped hardwood floor, it’s important to not scold the dog.
“If an accident does happen, do not become frustrated or upset with your pup,” Paschke says. “This can cause them to become even more unpredictable with their habits.”
They may resort to peeing in hidden spots around the house, resulting in foul odor and ruined carpets and drywall that you’ll have to deal with down the road.
‘Going’ in these areas is a go
If you have a fenced yard, let your new dog out to roam and do its doggy business. It’ll also be able to get out its energy and feistiness, which could lead to other problems like chewed-up shoes.
“Meeting a dog’s energy requirement keeps them healthy, improves coordination, reduces anxiety or boredom, stimulates their minds, and prevents poor behavior in the home,” Paschke says.
City dwellers and yard-less homeowners can take their dog on frequent walks or trips to a local dog park.
Being observant of your dog’s habits is important and should guide your schedule, says Paschke. If your dog is peeing on the carpet between trips, take it out sooner. If it doesn’t do anything when you’re outside but ends up going later, wait a little longer before heading out the door.
How to protect your home while you’re housetraining Fido
When you’re not actively playing with your pup, keep it in a room with easy-to-clean floors during the housebreaking period; this can help mitigate the damage to your home. Kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms typically have flooring that’s designed to sustain moisture, so put up puppy gates in the doorways and corral your new pooch.
Be sure to pet-proof the room first. Household cleaners and detergents are poisonous to pets, and leaving your dog in a room with them could be hazardous to its health. Lower cabinets stocked with chemicals or food should be locked. Depending on your dog’s height and ability to jump, you might also want to clear your shelves of any cleaners.
Common places dogs do their business
Accidents happen, no matter how hard you try to keep up with your dog’s needs. Fortunately, dogs tend to relieve themselves in several common places. They’re likely to avoid the areas where they sleep and play, so if you find accidents, they’ll likely be in smaller areas like closets.
Dogs that aren’t yet housetrained will often return to the scene of past crimes, so if you smell something, you’ll know where to check first. If you have another pet, you might notice that your new pup heads to a spot in the house where the older dog makes a mess. Or you might notice your older pooch has regressed and is peeing right where the puppy is relieving itself.
“If pets have a favored spot, they will return to that spot to go,” Paschke says. “If this is another dog’s smell, the dog may be marking over their smell.”
The best way to combat accidents in the house is—once again—to be proactive. The sooner you clean up a pet accident, the less likely it will damage your flooring. If you’ve welcomed a four-legged friend into your home, investing in a specialty cleaner designed to eliminate odors and stains is worth it.