In this post, I’m going to address house breaking, house training, potty training—whatever you want to call it! The other day, it occurred to me that there’s nothing to practice when you’re house training.
Someone called into our Salt Lake City training center to ask me to come to their home and house train their dog. As I explained that we only train at the center, I realized that going to the house wouldn’t even be necessary. In fact, I’ve house trained hundreds of dogs without ever once seeing the houses they lived in.
Why does this work? Because there’s nothing to practice! We can practice sitting, laying down, coming when called, not jumping, not nipping—basically any good or bad behavior you can think of. But when it comes to house training, there’s absolutely nothing to practice. There are four main elements to house training.
The first is supervision. You don’t need to practice this—you just need to supervise your dog. I normally keep the dog on a leash for a period of time that lasts from a few weeks to a few months. Being on a leash doesn’t require practice.
The second part of the training program is praising the dog properly when they go to the bathroom outside. It’s easy as pie: “Good girl—here’s a treat!”
The third part is the opposite: correcting the dog if they go to the bathroom inside. There’s no way to practice this, unless you want to watch your dog until he finally pees on the floor. Obviously, that’s not a situation you really want! If the dog goes inside, however, we want to correct it.
The final element is staying on a food and bathroom routine. In the same way, there’s honestly nothing to practice there. Just stay on a schedule!
That’s the house training formula that we’ve used for tens of thousands of dogs, both through our center and through our videos and programs. I know that these steps work for 99.9% of all dogs. There are some outliers, such as dogs who are sick or have problems with crate training, but these four things work for almost all dogs.
So is there any need for a trainer during this process? Of course! You may run into problems along the way that we can help you troubleshoot, but none of them involve practice.
Practice everything else in your dog’s world, from obedience to doorbell manners to coming when called at the park. But when it comes to house training, all you need to do is stick to the routine I’ve outlined above.