The amount of time it will take to housebreak your dog will depend on the dog himself, just be patient and remember that your dog is not purposely disobeying you. Often it takes young puppies a while to gain the muscle control needed to eliminate on command. The secret to housebreaking - as with all training - is consistency and repetition. Remember, there has never been a dog that could not be housetrained.
General Hints: There are some basic principles or guidelines you should follow no matter which method of training you are using.
- Designate a "potty" area outside and take the dog to that spot every time. Leash walk him back and forth in that area while saying a key phrase such as, "Hurry up," or "Go potty." He will start associating going to the bathroom with the key phrase.
- Probably the most important rule to remember is positive reinforcement. Every time your dog goes where he's supposed to, lavish him with praise.
- Only punish your dog when you catch him in the act. Punishing after the fact will be futile and may even hinder the training process. Never strike your dog as a form of punishment. Rather, say "No!" forcefully, or use a spray bottle filled with 1 part water/1 part vinegar and spray the dog (vinegar is not harmful to dogs, however they do not like the scent. They will begin associating the scent with improper behavior). Then take the dog to the designated "potty" area. PLEASE NOTE: Do not rub your dog's nose in it - your dog has a superior sense of smell. Also when correcting take into account the sensitivity of your dog. A highly shy and sensitive dog may be so upset by the correction that it might stop eliminating in front of you altogether. Do not correct your dog to the point that he becomes afraid of you.
- Take your dog outside as soon as possible after naps, meals or play sessions.
- Get your dog on a regular feeding schedule.
- Take away his water dish at night.
- Learn to recognize your dog's signals that he needs to go out. For example, many dogs will sniff or scratch the floor and walk in circles when they need to go.
Feed your dog a high-grade dry dog food. The old saying "You get what you pay for" applies in this instance. The cheaper dog foods often do not contain the proper balance of nutrients needed to help build and maintain a healthy dog. In addition, the high-grade dog food works with the dog’s digestive system to help process most of the food; subsequently, the dog will defecate less.
A general rule of thumb: After your dog begins learning to eliminate in the "potty" area, start establishing a schedule. Generally, you should take your dog to the "potty" area in regular intervals. Try taking your dog out at hourly intervals determined by dividing his age in half. For example, if your dog is 4 months old, you should take it outside every 2 hours. If your dog is 6 months old, he will need to go outside at least every 3 hours.