We greatly appreciate these house training tips provided by CAWL dog trainer, Carly Shivers, owner of High Drive Dog Company in Longmont, CO.
Q: Need some suggestions, Jasper who is about 5 months old now has been completely house trained for at least 2 months now. He hasn’t had any accidents since, forever now. All of the sudden he had started peeing on the carpet upstairs. I just don’t get it. He even peed right in front of my husband last night on the carpet. We ruled out any medical issue at the vet yesterday. Do we go back to square one with house training? Which for us was a treat at the door, then following him outside and giving a treat after he does his business.
A: Yes it is a process and even though you’ve made good progress there are a few steps backward often, especially when we’re dealing with a young puppy. In a nutshell to housetrain a dog, you want to minimize the times the puppy goes where you don’t want him to (in the house) and have high value (meaty, moist) treats for when he goes where you want him to (and only use those awesome treats for going to the bathroom outside).
To minimize the accidents in the home, keep him close where you can watch him and for those times when you can’t (like you are going to jump in the shower and no one else is home), crate him. A crate is the number one tool for housetraining – just big enough to stand up, turn around, and lie down – not big enough to have a toilet in the corner. For the other times when you might be distracted – phone calls, cooking – or for a particularly wily pup who seems to always slip away just for that split second and you then find an accident, put them on leash and tether it to your belt loop if you’ll be moving around or tether to the kitchen table. It is also helpful to set alarms for yourself so you remember to take him out every half hour or whatever the pup needs. It never hurts to lay too good a foundation for learning!
Get some Nature’s Miracle or the like and always clean the spots where he goes with it to break down the chemical compounds or that spot will become the toilet! Remember the puppy doesn’t come out of the womb understanding we humans have housing and civilization, but with clear and consistent reinforcement they will get the hang of it. Except in some extreme cases of neglect and enclosure in small spaces for long periods of time, all dogs will get it!
For rooms you’d like him to stay out of, block them with baby gates or boards. You can block whole floors of the house this way. Might be too much space for a small puppy at this age – they figure hey if we have a whole house, why can’t that room be the bathroom? And be careful getting too frustrated with mistakes – getting upset can make it worse, make the puppy hide it from you even more – in those cases the puppy doesn’t understand why you’re mad (because he is peeing *in the house*) but knows you get mad when he pees so he tries to hide it from you. That makes is harder to train this behavior. I know it’s hard but if a dog isn’t getting something, 99% of the time it’s because the human isn’t being clear and consistent. Remember also, whether we are rewarding or correcting a dog, it must come with 1-2 seconds of the behavior or they have no idea either is connected to the things you’d like to see more of/less of. Good luck and let me know if I can help further!