House training a puppy or dog – FAQ

You’ve read our 3 tips to house train your dog or puppy and now you have a question (or many). We anticipated that! Here are the most commonly asked questions about training your do to be clean inside the house and, of course, their answers. Can’t find the answer to your question here or in the main article? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

Question : What’s is considered to be a “house-trained” dog ? Does it absolutely need to go outside? Only during walks? How many times a day is too many?

Answer: Actually, the term “house trained” is very loose, because it’s all a matter of your specific needs. A house trained dog is a dog that does it’s business where and when you expect it to, pure and simple. Whether your plan is to have that only be during walks, on a pad, in a grass pad on your balcony, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve clearly defined it, you’ll be able to “house train” your dog. That also means that you are a part of that definition. See where I’m going with this? It’s your responsibility to make your goal realistic in regards to your puppy age, past habits and physical capabilities. If your house training goal is to have a 2 month old puppy hold it for 14 hours, it will never be house trained.

Question : Why does my dog refuse to poop outside and then immediately hide to do it when we come back home?

Answer: There are many different reasons why this might happen. Here are the usual suspects:

First, it’s most likely that your dog doesn’t have a single clue that outside is better than inside. Think about it: inside is warm, safe, the food, bed and toys are there. Why not pick a few spots away from those things to relieve itself? Remember: behaviors require motivation. There’s no way your puppy will want to wait until it’s outside if there isn’t a valid reason to wait. It might sound a bit silly, but the simplest exaplanation is often the correct one.

Next, it’s possible that your dog has a motivation not to pee outside. Most often, that happens with a dog that is uncomfortable outside. Be it because it’s afraid of strangers, cars, other dogs, or anything else. You wouldn’t feel comfortable going to the bathroom in a public stall that has no door, two minutes after you sawa bear wander around it, would you? That’s how your dog might feel!

And finally, you might be the problem. This happens often when we scold the puppy when it has accidents. The dog won’t take a chance to pee in front of you (outside or inside) if it’s worried you might get angry. This problem usually comes from following various advice, all bad and some very odd, to “teach the dog where not to go” such as scolding, screaming, pointing the finger, shoving the dog’s face in there…and some other even weirder and nastier things I’ll keep to myself. What you’re actually teaching your dog when you do those things is “peeing + my human present = discomfort, something I want to avoid”. The puppy’s next strategy then becomes to do it’s business anywhere…so long as you’re not present! We call this “reverse housetraining”: the dog is very well trained, but to do exactly the opposite of what you want.

Question : Why does my dog bury it’s business?

Answer: That’s a question we don’t have an exact answer to, because the only way we’d actually know is to ask them and, well, we don’t have that technology (yet…). Here are the reasons we think they do this for: it could be a very deeply imbedded behavior, something that’s hardcoded in the dog’s genes. It could also just be something they did once and found amusing and they’re keeping it up, since digging is a very pleasant activity for dogs. It could be to spread their smell and make it harder to “cover”. The really important question is “is it a problem for you?” If it is, train your dog to do something else right after they’re done, like coming to you for instance. If not, let the dog do it’s thing and enjoy the show!

Question : I want my dog to go exclusively outside. Should I reward on walks, in the yard, or both?

Answer: If you’ve gotten this far in the FAQ, you can probably guess what I’m going to say. In case you skipped the first few questions (impatient, aren’t we? I know how you feel…) here’s the answer: it depends entirely on what you want from your dog! If you want it to be a versatile pooper, to just open the yard door in the morning and let the dog pee while you prepare your coffee, but also on walks, reward both. If you don’t want to have to go on a yard poop hunt every couple of days, only reward on walks and make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the yard when they might have to go during the training process. Simple!

Question : Should I remove my dog’s water during the house training process ?

Answer : Absolutely, unequivocally, and without exception: never restrict a dog’s access to water. Your dog should have access to water at all times no matter how old they are. Not only is it a must for a healthy pet, but it would also be useless to remove water: your dog will overdrink when you do give them water and then need to pee abnormally often for a while afterwards, which doesn’t help creating good house training habits at all. Even if you were to bring your dog out for each of those excess pees, it’s still not helping your dog manage it’s thirst and bladder for normal life!

Question : How should I teach my dog to hold it during the night?

Answer: At night, you’ll have the same goals but it’ll be easier. Use the same strategy you would during the day, but increase how long you wait before taking your dog out while the dog sleeps. A sleeping puppy is less stimulated and, thus, won’t produce as much urine and will be able to hold it longer…same as us! Start at a level where your dog can succeed and proressively increase the delay between outings at night until you can go a full night without an accident.

Anything else? Send us a message!

Written by Nina Esmery, CTC, translated by Stephane Fiset