Housebreaking can be a problem in a new home, even though your dog was trained in another household.
The following method is the best way I know to break a dog of this poor behavior. You will need a few tools to get started. A leash is a must in getting the behavior under control. Secondly you should have a crate or kennel, which I like to think of as their “den”. The last thing you need is what I call the “zone”. The zone is an area in which we want the dog to go to the bathroom. This area needs to be no larger than 5 feet by 5 feet.
The leash should be placed on the dog at all times. The reason for the leash is to make for a quick correction of any bad behavior such as going to the bathroom in an unwanted area. Preferably the leash should be in contact with you at all times too. This will help you remember that you and your dog are working on house breaking. If you see any of the warning signs that your dog is about to relieve itself, you have to make a quick dash to the zone.
The leash becomes very handy in that your dog is not able to escape you and if you pull the leash it will distract the dog long enough to stop the bad behavior. By letting your dog drag the leash around the house without you attached to it, you have defeated the purpose of training the dog to know right from wrong.
The zone should be the area in which you are willing to have your dog relieve itself. While you and the dog are in the zone (with leash on) you should remain silent as your dog goes about his or her business. Talking will not encourage your dog to go faster but, instead, will distract your dog from the true purpose of the trip to the zone. Also, while in the zone you should not walk around; remain still, because any movement on your part only distracts the dog from the true goal. Once the dog has done their business you should praise them and head back into the house.
It is a standard rule that a dog should take no longer than 10 minutes in the zone. If the dog does not go within a 10 minute timeframe, watch them very carefully once you are back in the house. This will teach the dog to do their job quickly before coming back into the house. There is a common rule on how long a dog can “hold it” without causing damage to internal organs. The rule is as follows: for every month of age, add one, and that will equal the hours they can go without relieving themselves. For example, a 4 month old dog can hold it for 5 hours, whereas a 10 month old dog can hold it for 11 hours. The size of the dog may affect the length of time, and no dog should be asked to hold it for longer than 12 hours, ever.
Finally, the crate/kennel or as I like to call it, the “den”, is to be used whenever you are unable to watch the dog. The den is not to be used as a punishment of crimes committed in the house. Your dog should view the den as a safe comfortable place to stay while waiting for your arrival. The den should be big enough for the dog to crawl into and lay down. Never force the dog into the den; instead, encourage the dog to go into it on their own accord. An easy trick to teach them to go into the den is to place a dog treat at the back of the den and allow the dog to retrieve it without shutting the door to the den. Do not shut the door until the dog remains in the crate on their own. If the use of a treat is not working try using a toy instead. Also note it is not a good idea to rush to the den to let your dog out if they are complaining. This will only teach the dog to complain more and to use that behavior in getting what they want.
Old dogs can learn new tricks
These tips work for all ages of dogs. I have seen it work on a 4 week old puppy and on my own 8 year old adopted German Shepard. It is not true that an old dog will not learn a new trick. If you follow these simples tips your dog will be house broke within 7-10 days. Once your dog is house broke you may give up on the leash at all times and let the dog have the run of the house. If housebreaking takes longer than 10 days or your dog has a relapse in their poor behavior(s) please contact Rich Gingery at Whispering Pines Pet Clinic (530) 873-1136 for housebreaking or other behavioral issue.