How to House Train a Dog: A Vet Tech Guide

Published on September 3, 2018 by

House training a dog is about consistency, patience and positive reinforcement, according to the Humane Society of the United States. It can take up to 6 months to fully house train a puppy. Smaller breed dogs have a smaller bladder, so they tend to go to the bathroom more often. It is recommended to start house training a puppy around 15 weeks. Why wait? The puppy needs to acquire the ability to control their bladder and bowel movements.

Why Do Dogs Soil the House?

Is your dog fully house trained? If the answer is no, then it is time to learn about house training after ruling out any health problems the dog may have. With a physical examination, diagnostic testing and medical history a vet tech should be able to identify the cause of the dog soiling the house.

The most common reason for house soiling is to mark territory. Dogs tend to mark areas of other dog’s urine markings. Typically, when a dog is marking the volume of urine is small. The dog may also mark territory due to hormonal influences, entering another dog’s property, moving to a new household, new furniture or a response to increased stress.

Both male and female dogs can mark with a lifted leg. A sudden event in marking by a neutered dog may be caused by anxiety or stress. A change in the owner’s schedule or a change to the dog’s living quarters can cause a dog to soil the house due to stress.

Other reasons include separation anxiety or for medical reasons. Cushing’s disease can cause a dog to urine frequently and have an inability to stop themselves from going to the bathroom. Both diabetes and kidney disease also increase the frequency of urination in a dog. Age can play a factor in whether a dog can control their bladder or not. Other signs of medical problems include increased thirst, increase urination frequency, increase in volume of urination and a decrease control of the bladder. A dog that has discomfort when urinating may have a bladder infection. For dogs with brain disease, there may be not specific pattern for house soiling.

The dog may urinate when they meet new people due to either submissiveness or excitement.  If the dog owner moves to punish the dog, urination may result due to submissiveness. The dog may also put their ears back, retract their lips, avoid eye contact or cower. It is best not to punish a dog for an accident as this may cause the dog to fear the owner. It is also common for a dog to get excited for the dog owner to come home and be so excited they urinate a little. Excitement leads to urination when a person greets them or gives the dog affection.

Times when Dogs Need to Go to the Bathroom

The most common time for a dog to go to the bathroom is after being confined for a long period of time. The dog owner should take out the dog immediately after returning home to allow the dog to go to the bathroom. Other times a dog will need to go to the bathroom include the first thing in the morning, after eating or drinking, after playing, and after sleeping. 15 minutes after any of these actions, the dog should be taken to their specific spot to go to the bathroom.

Signs that the Dog Needs to Go to the Bathroom

If the dog begins to whine, sniffing around, barking or scratching the door, more than likely they have to go to the bathroom. The dog may also wander around inside looking for a place to go to the bathroom or sit looking directly at you until you notice they have to go to the bathroom. If these signs occur, take your dog outside to the proper location immediately.

How to House Train Your Dog

The following are steps for a dog owner to house train their dog.

1)      The dog should be confined to a defined space, in a crate, specific room or on a leash.

2)      The dog should be fed a measured amount of food at the same time every day.

3)      The dog owner should stay with the dog the entire time they go to the bathroom in order to monitor their behavior and offer positive reinforcement after they are done.

4)      The dog should be taken to the same area on a schedule to alleviate themselves. Puppies should be taken out to urinate every 30 minutes to 1 hour and more mature dogs every 3 to 4 hours. If the dog does not urinate on schedule, they should be placed back into the house and taken back out in 15 minutes.

5)      If the dog goes to the urinate inside the house, the dog owner should clean up the mess and bring the dog and the urine soaking towelette to the desired location to urinate.

6)      When the dog goes to the bathroom in the proper location, they should be quietly praised immediately.

7)      Then the dog should be taken to another area and rewarded with a small amount of food. After that the dog can play before going back inside.

8)      If the dog has an accident, don’t scold them, simply clean up the mess and deodorize the area with an enzymatic cleanser. Then the dog is taken outside to the proper area to go to the bathroom. Scolding a dog for an accident may cause fear and the dog may lose trust in the owner. If you do find your dog going to the bathroom in an inappropriate location, clap loudly so they know they have done something unacceptable. Take them outside and give them a small treat when they are done.

9)      A few hours before bedtime, pick up the dog’s water dish to reduce unwanted accidents during the night.

Using a Crate to House Train

If you decide to use a crate to house train a puppy, make sure it is large enough for them to stand, turn around and lie down. However, not big enough for them to go to the bathroom in the corner. Make sure the puppy has fresh water that is in a dispenser attached to the crate. Don’t use a crate if the puppy consistently goes to the bathroom in it. They may not be able to hold it or picked up some bad habits.

A vet tech will learn proper ways to house train a dog during their education at a vocational school. This way, the vet tech can educate dog owners that want to know how to house train a dog.

Interested in learning more about how to house train a dog? Ready to start working as a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.


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