Housebreaking leads the pack in terms of being the topic that I receive the most questions on, hands down. The key is really to make sure you are following a consistent plan. Consistency will make housebreaking your dog or puppy as simple as it can be. However, housebreaking is still tough. And it’s not something you’re going to accomplish overnight, or even in one week, despite some of the ads you may see online stating that you can. Housebreaking is a process. Your dog must learn through conditioning where it is and is not appropriate to go potty.
Even if you’re following all the steps you can still run into unexpected setbacks in the housebreaking process, namely when your dog starts using the bathroom indoors again after they seemingly had housebreaking down solid or when your dog starts using the bathroom in their crate. There are different processes for handling these issues so I’ll address them separately, starting with dealing with a dog that has started pottying indoors after you thought they were fully housebroken.
Before we dive in to housebreaking, keep this in mind… even the best trained dogs will have accidents. The goal is for it to be so occasional that you can’t remember 2 of the last 3 times it happened. Even my 11 year old dog surprised me a few months ago with a runny, little present near my backdoor after having been housebroken for a decade! In that instance the accident was totally my fault. I’d gone out of town overnight and she didn’t have anywhere else to go. Keep this in mind when you’re potty training your dog or puppy because a single accident may not mean your dog has completely relapsed. However, if you’re dealing with accident number 2 or more in a short time span you need to take action immediately to prevent any further problems.
The common reasoning I hear from owners when they’re dog starts to backslide on potty training is that the dog is angry, or doing it out of spite or to “get back” at the owner for some injustice done to them. I’m guilty of having these thoughts before too but the quickest way to a solution is to let go of that line of thinking and adopt the mantra that your dog doesn’t do things out of spite or hatred of you. Dogs generally want their owners to be happy. They’re pack animals and they want to be in a happy, cohesive pack. They also don’t have the same feelings a human does and they don’t hold grudges or act out of spite.
It’s actually quite simple… from the dog’s perspective. He thinks he’s supposed to go in the house now… he’s done it so many times…