House Training 101

Any behavior modification program consists of several parts.  The first part is effective management skills, the second part is to treat the problem and teach the dog new behaviors.  In order for any program to be successful the dog owner must follow the plan.

Good Management Skills

The first thing you have to understand is that the dog is probably confused about where to relieve himself.  You need to help him clear up that confusion by only allowing him to urinate outside. Your dog should be put in a crate when you cannot physically be right in the room with him. When he is out of the crate, keep a very close eye on him.

A good rule of thumb is to let the dog outside as soon as you get home.  If the dog does not urinate when you let him out, bring him inside and put him back in the crate.  Wait ten minutes and bring him back outside.  If he does not go, repeat the process.  If he does urinate, bring him inside and do not put him in the crate.  Still keep a close eye on him.

It is strongly recommend to leave a leash on your dog in the house while you are still house training.  If you are busy doing something you can attach the leash to a doorknob or a sturdy table.  This way the dog is still in the room with you and if he starts to go, you can quickly catch him.


My dogs have total freedom in the house.  The only reason they have that freedom is because they earned it.  They don’t chew, destroy or urinate in the house. If they did they would be in a crate until they learned.

Treating the Behavior

The second step is to actually teach the dog new skills.  You want the dog to learn that urinating inside is unacceptable and urinating outside is acceptable.  This is done by catching the dog in the act.  The second your dog starts to lift his leg, quickly startle the dog.  You would want to make a loud noise (stomp your foot, a loud “No”, clap your hands, etc.)  and take the dog outside immediately.

Once outside you will start to give the dog a command such as “Get busy” until he starts to go.  Do not say anything else until he has finished.  If you say “Good boy” while he is going, he may not finish.  The second he’s done then you say “Good boy” and give the dog a treat.  You want to reward the dog for urinating outside.

REMEMBER:  When you are trying to teach the dog to do anything you are trying to communicate with the dog.  You have to influence his behavior the second the behavior occurs, whether it is positive or negative behavior.  You are influencing the dog by startling him the second he begins to urinate.  You also influence the dog when you reward him the second he is finished.

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Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.