House training a dog, meaning, training it to urinate and defecate in a specific place (preferably outside), is one of the necessities of dog-ownership. Until a dog knows to consistently relieve itself outside it cannot be said to have been house broken. Most people do not like having to deal constantly with urination and feces, therefore a dog without the knowledge or control to go only outdoors will probably end up in a shelter.
One problem with any kind of training is that intelligence varies according to breed and among individual dogs, so not all dogs will be trained at the same rate. The task of house training a dog will be easy in some cases, difficult in others. The dog’s natural instinct is to relieve itself away from where it lives. Normally, a dog will defecate and urinate in a specific place in order to keep itself clean. Dogs in packs tend to have one communal place in which they all urinate and defecate. House training involves reinforcing this instinct.
House Training A Dog – What works/does not work
The old method of house training a dog by rubbing its nose in the feces or urine does not work. In fact, this method may indicate to the dog that the spot in which they had the accident is where you want them to use the bathroom. Another unintended effect of this method may be that the dog will only avoid defecating inside when a human is watching. If the dog is left alone or is able hide from view it will continue to defecate inside. One way to house train a dog is to place it in a small, comfortable, enclosed space. Since dogs have a natural aversion to soiling their own living spaces, it should be small enough that the dog cannot avoid its own waste. This is called the “crate method” of house training a dog. Another method is to stop the dog while it is in the act, then immediately take it to the place where you want it to urinate or defecate. The key is to stop the dog while it is in the act, or this method will not be effective. If punished after the act, the dog will not connect the punishment to previous events, so it will not know why it is being punished.
When the dog does use the bathroom outside the owner should reward it. This reinforces to the dog that outside is where it should relieve itself.
Other tips for house training a dog
Get the dog on a regular schedule of eating and drinking. This will also lead to a regular schedule of going to the bathroom. Do not give the dog constant access to food and water bowls, rather, these should be removed after feeding times to reinforce the schedule. Ensure that the dog gets to go outside regularly throughout the day. This may necessitate the installation of a dog-door. House training a dog is not a difficult thing to do, but it takes patience and a little work.