Jump to section
A new dog in the home generally means good things! Whether your dog is young or old, they provide you with so much excitement and fun when they finally come home to stay. Well, at least until you realize that they might not be as housebroken as you’d first thought. Stains on the carpet, not-so-nice smells, and repeat offenses by a dog who isn’t sure how to ask to go outside are not the most pleasant experiences. It can be downright frustrating having to break out the cleaning supplies two or three times a day because your dog had an accident.
Housebreaking your dog doesn’t have to be stressful, however. There are many ways to ensure that he learns the appropriate places and times to relieve himself and generally, it will take some adjusting for a dog who is not used to the way your house is run. With a regular routine, you can be at ease knowing that your carpet will survive another day.
Housebreaking your dog in order to prevent him from using your carpet as a bathroom is really just a matter of prevention. Dogs will often relieve themselves multiple times in the same place, especially if the scent of their previous accident lingers. It’s important to take steps to keep this from happening in the first place and ensure that you thoroughly clean any area where he does pee to keep him from being drawn to the same spot again.
Keeping your dog from peeing on your carpet may seem difficult the older he gets, but these methods can be utilized for a dog of any age, puppies included. Each one takes just a few days or a week or two to adjust to and can solve your problem with relative patience and repetition. Staying committed, using positive reinforcement, and remaining persistent will help you get your nice and comfortable carpet staying clean.
Establishing a routine for dogs is important. No matter which method you use, you want to be consistent with it. Don’t do it one way on Monday and do it differently on Tuesday. Your dog will thank you for the easy-to-remember process to relieve himself and you will be much happier as a result.
If your dog is older and has suddenly started using the bathroom indoors, have him looked over by a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes. Otherwise, get some treats together for a reward and set aside a few minutes several times a day to adjust your dog to his new bathroom routine. The younger a dog is, the more often they may need to practice.
The Schedule Method
Determine how often to use the bathroom
Younger puppies will need many more bathroom breaks than older dogs. Figure out how often your dog uses the bathroom and make a note of it on paper or in a computer document.
Learn the typical bathroom times
Your dog will more than likely need to use the bathroom in the morning after waking up, after any meals, after drinking water, after being let out of a crate or kennel, before going in for the night, and possibly in the middle of the night. These are times you will need to be aware of.
Avoid punishment for slip ups
Negative reinforcement may not always work to prevent your dog from using the bathroom indoors. If you catch her making an attempt to use the carpet as a bathroom, calmly relocate her outside and clean up any mess thoroughly.
Go out and go out often
After determining her bathroom schedule, start taking your dog outside whenever you get the feeling she may need to go. This typically means about five minutes BEFORE she usually uses the bathroom. This may require you going outside several times a day and possibly a few times at night, depending on your dog’s needs.
Praise and reward!
For any successful attempt at relieving herself outdoors, offer lots of excited verbal praise. Treats and toys are fantastic rewards for appropriately using the bathroom outside. Even if the amount of waste is small, continue to reward at all available opportunities.
Adjust the schedule with progress
Puppies will typically outgrow the need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and older dogs may pick up on an established schedule pretty quickly. Adjust your schedule as your dog’s needs allow. If you’re realizing he can go a little longer without a bathroom break, feel free to remove one from your daily routine.
The Kennel Method
Find a proper kennel or crate
Crates are often used as a resting area for dogs until it’s time to go out to pee. An appropriately sized crate should be large enough that your dog can stand up and turn around in it comfortably. A crate that is too large may just end up being the next bathroom area and a crate that is too small is uncomfortable and cramped. Take some time finding one that is just right.
Make the kennel a nice place
Use a comfortable pillow or blanket to line the bottom and provide some nice chew toys or treats. The crate should be relaxing and fun.
Teach your dog to go in and out
Using words like ‘in your crate’ or ‘let’s go’ can help put verbal cues to what you’d like your dog to do, whether it’s going into the crate or coming out of it. Use treats or toys to entice him to do what you’d like when you’d like him to so he associates the behavior with a reward.
Create a specific ‘kennel time’
Your dog shouldn’t be in the kennel all day, every day. Figure out an appropriate span of time when he’ll need to be in the kennel, such as when you’re away at work or school or are busy with other things at home. Try to limit the amount of time he is in his kennel, especially for higher energy breeds. A bored dog can become destructive.
Go outside immediately afterwards
After each ‘kennel time’, take your dog outside to relieve himself. Dogs will generally not use the bathroom in the same area where they sleep, so this is a good chance to teach him that kennel time will always be followed by a bathroom break.
Reward for good bathroom behavior
Offer your dog playtime or yummy treats any time he uses the bathroom outside. He’ll soon look forward to leaving his kennel to use the bathroom outside because it means good things!
The Puppy Pad Method
Find the right size puppy pads
Puppy pads or ‘pee pads’ are often used for young puppies, smaller, or senior dogs who may not always enjoy relieving themselves outside. These pads can vary in size and quality, so be sure that you’re buying the right size for your dog. They may not be ideal for large dogs who eliminate a lot, as absorbency and required clean up may also vary.
Find a specific place for the pad
The puppy pad will need to remain in the same area for your dog to adjust to using it. Try not to move it or relocate it once you do find a place for it. An ideal place will be somewhere in a room with tile or wood floors to make accidents easy to clean. Make sure it is accessible to your dog at all times. A closed pantry or closet is not ideal.
Visit the pad often
A few minutes before your dog’s usual bathroom time, encourage him to come with you to the pad. Let him sniff at it, even if he doesn’t have to use the bathroom just yet. If he stands around for five minutes and does nothing, leave the pad and come back in another ten to fifteen minutes.
Reward at bathroom time
Any time your dog uses the puppy pad to go to the bathroom, make a huge deal about it. Give him lots of praise and pets for doing it. You want him to feel good about using the puppy pad.
Clean the pad regularly
Most puppy pads are disposable, so be sure to change them out whenever necessary. Leaving a small pee spot alone for a little while is usually fine, but letting the pad soak through before changing it can leave a mess and give the whole area an unpleasant urine smell. Keep your dog’s bathroom area as clean as possible.
Move to the outdoors if necessary
If you’d like your dog to eventually transition from the pad to the outdoors, the simple way to do so is to move the pad gradually over the course of a few days. Move it closer to the door until you can open the door and set the pad right outside. Then gradually move it out and onto the grass, if that’s what you prefer. Take your time doing this to prevent your dog from having accidents and always make sure that your dog has plenty of access to the pad.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 01/04/2018, edited: 01/08/2021