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Housebreaking

No one wants a dog who eliminates in inappropriate places! The following are some tips and suggestions related to ensuring that your dog only "goes" where they should.

Depending on the age and size of your pup, the amount of time they can reasonably be expected to control their elimination varies.Adult small breeds can generally hold it up to about 5 hours, where as 8 hours is a good estimate for adult large breeds Anything past that point is an unfair expectation. A good estimate for puppies is roughly 1 hour/month of age up to adult expectations. 

The key is to set the right pattern of behavior right away. Enlist the help of friends, family, or a dog walker to set up a schedule for bathroom breaks throughout the day. Feed the puppy on a schedule, if you know when it went in, you have a better idea of when it will need to come out. Don’t ever restrict water, this can cause a myriad of health problems!  Giving the puppy a fairly rigid schedule will also help them to know that an opportunity to relieve themself will be available within a reasonable amount of time.

When the pup is unsupervised, restrict their freedom to a confined space, a crate or bathroom work well. Dogs don’t naturally prefer to eliminate where they eat and sleep.

Keep bathroom breaks focused, take them to the place where you want them to get busy, and wait quietly for them to "go". Be sure to use treats and lots of praise when they have finished. Avoid playing with them while waiting for them to go as it distracts from the goal.

Accidents happen, especially at the beginning. When an accident does occur, use an enzyme based cleaner to neutralize the smell, this reduces the likelihood that the pup will go back to that spot. Be sure not to scold or punish the dog for accidents, this just causes them stress, and unless you catch them in the act, they won’t have any idea why you are upset. If you do catch them in the act, make a loud noise to interrupt the behavior, and take them immediately to the appropriate spot, wait for them to finish and reward them.

Some people prefer to allow small dogs to have a litter box or potty patch to use indoors. This can be a good solution for dogs who don’t do well with going out in the snow or who will not get sufficient bathroom breaks throughout the day. If you do chose to use a litter box or similar option, remember that dogs of all sizes do still need walks for mental stimulus and exercise. Placing the litter box or potty patch in a spot where they have had accidents in the past can speed the amount of time it takes for them to adjust to using it.

Unless you plan to allow your dog to eliminate indoors for the long term, it is not a great idea to train them to use a potty pad. Potty pads add an additional step to the training process. If however, you are not able to take them out as often as needed, potty pads are an ideal alternative to accidents.

As in all aspects of training be patient, set reasonable goals, and reward successes!

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