Paper Training / Housebreaking Your Dog

It’s A Crappy Job, But It Has To be Done

How To Paper Training / Housebreaking Your Dog

Paper Training / Housebreaking Your Dog is often one of the first things most owners want to teach their new dog. It is a vital part of the dog’s overall training. Dogs that aren’t paper trained / housebroken usually end up living outside, are re-homed or are sent to an animal shelter.

Personally, I do not suggest that you go through the effort of paper training your dog unless you are NOT planning to housebreak it eventually.

If you are planning to house break your dog eventually, paper training may actually confuse the dog or puppy. In effect it’s like changing the rules midstream. You are telling it that it’s OK to relieve itself on the paper, then later telling it “Don’t do that here anymore.  You have to go outside from now on”. Most dogs will continue to relieve themselves in the area for some time after you have trained it to go outside. (Especially when you are not at home).

Another good reason to skip “paper training” is because you are actually doubling the amount of time you need to achieve your final goal.

The hardest part of paper training / housebreaking your dog is not so much about training the dog. It’s about training the humans. A dog will most always tell you when it needs to relieve itself. You just need to know how to read the signs. In the beginning it is best to provide your dog with a lot of opportunities to relieve itself in the correct place.  After it does “its job” be sure you immediately reward this behavior with LOTS of lavish praise and a short play session.

During the housebreaking process multiple opportunities should be given at regular intervals until a pattern becomes visible. With a puppy, these intervals should be right after feeding, drinking, playing or sleeping. With older dogs (over the age of one year), about every 2-4 hours should be fine at first. You should also consider walking your dog after feeding or drinking to encourage it to use this time to relieve itself. (Don’t forget to take your “pooper-scooper” or a plastic bag with you).

Paper Training / House Breaking Your Dog
Paper Training / Housebreaking Your Dog

Any paper training or housebreaking method you choose will require you to be watching your dog for the signs that it needs to relieve itself. Learning good habits right from the start will be a more positive experience for you and the dog. You will also be cleaning up a lot fewer messes.

With puppies, we suggest that you feed at scheduled mealtimes ONLY. Then remove any food the puppy does not eat during that feeding time. Do not allow the puppy to “snack” on the rest of the food between feeding times. Open feeding or snacking makes paper training / housebreaking your dog much more difficult. To prevent “accidents” take your puppy out before an accident occurs. Get them used to going out and they will be less likely to “go” inside.

When you take the puppy or dog out to do its business, take it to the same spot each time. If your puppy is too young to walk on a leash or if your area is not enclosed, take them to a safe area and remain there until it has relieved itself.  As they start to “go” use the command word to reinforce the behavior. (Example:  “Outside” “Paper”  “Potty” etc…) Immediately reward the behavior when it finishes the job.

Developing a Pattern:

The best way to find your dog’s bathroom pattern is to create a list. This list must include the amount and time you feed or give water, and the time the dog goes pee or poo.  With young puppies, they can usually only “hold it” for about 1.5 to 2 hours. For every week over 12 weeks of age you can add about 15 mins to this time. It is important to get them outside or to the paper before they have an accident. 

Reading the Signs:

It is a must to learning to read your dog’s signs. This is because it is the only way you will really know when it’s “time to go.” Your dog is not a little kid who can walk around with its knees together. It can’t walk around pushing down on its crotch area and look desperate. But if you know what to look for the signs are almost as obvious!

The common signs your dog will use are:

1). Sniffing the Floor or Ground

2). Circling

3). Whining

4). Tail Raised in the Air

5). Hunched or Arched Back to Point the Butt Area Down
    (To the un-trained eye, this also will look like the dog is struggling to try to sit down)

6). Enlarged Anus

In older dogs (dogs who were previously housebroken) you may also notice that they become quickly excited and pace the floor or becoming hyper to go outside.

Take your dog outside (or to the paper) right away if you notice any of the above behaviors while you are inside. If you don’t, you’re going to be cleaning up a mess very soon.

Final Step in Paper Training / Housebreaking:

You can teach your dog to go to the door (or paper) once you know the signs that your dog needs to “do its business”.

When the dog starts to give you a sign, walk it to the door or paper, (on or off leash), and say the word you want to use as the command. (Example:  “Outside” “Paper”  “Potty” etc…) After a short time (up to a few weeks), your dog will probably go right to the door or paper for you.

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“Only Reward Behavior When it is Done 100% Correctly. There is No Such Thing as “Close Enough” in Dog Training.”