Housetraining is more difficult than most people realize, and it’s much more difficult with some dogs than others. It tends to be hardest with the smallest dogs. It’s the first complicated task most people teach their dogs, and many dogs lose their homes over housetraining problems.

The list here is to help you get pointed in the right direction. Our how-to articles on housetraining can help. Or you may need the help of an expert in person to housetrain your dog. A lot of people do. The veterinary behavior specialist is the ideal professional to help with complicated housetraining cases because housetraining involves both physical conditions and behavior. The veterinary behavior specialist is qualified to deal with both.

Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Leaving a not-yet-housetrained dog loose in the house, without staying in the same room and watching the dog.
  2. Punishing in housetraining. For some dogs, scolding—even a dirty look from you—is enough to throw housetraining off track.
  3. Not taking the dog out often enough.
  4. Not treating accident spots with the right type of product.
  5. Adopting a dog who lacks the physical ability to meet the housetraining conditions you want.
  6. Postponing housetraining for a more convenient time.
  7. Failing to give a young puppy experience eliminating on the surfaces you will want the dog to use later.
  8. Continuing an indoor method for too long if reliability about not soiling the house is your goal.
  9. Feeding problems including leaving food out all the time, feeding a high-fiber dog food, and giving treats that throw the dog’s body off track.
  10. Not getting the dog medical care for orthopedic, parasitic, stress diarrhea, anxiety disorders, or other physical problems.
  11. Crating for too many hours, either regularly or even in some cases just once.
  12. Expecting the dog to ask to go out.
  13. Housetraining two dogs at once.
  14. Keeping two tiny or small male dogs together who become “dueling tinklers,” and then blaming the dogs.
  15. Expecting a dog to actually understand housetraining.
  16. Taking housetraining accidents as personal insults toward you from the dog.
  17. Thinking the dog is doing it out of spite.
  18. Thinking the dog feels guilty because of dog body language that is actually submissiveness.

There is Help

The housetraining articlesin the Canine Behavior Series explain how these issues become pitfalls and how to handle them successfully. During the process of housetraining, there is no reason to have a house that smells like dog waste. There is no reason to wind up with damaged flooring. Even if you have one of those dogs who can never master housetraining, you can manage the dog so that the place is kept clean and free of damage—and so that your relationship with your dog is good.

If reading doesn’t give the help you need, go to a qualified professional. The biggest pitfall of all is to consider housetraining easy and to look for someone to blame when it doesn’t go well. To succeed with housetraining, the dog’s body and mind must be capable of holding it to get to your chosen spot to eliminate. You’ll have to be skilled at the kind of dog handling and management this dog needs. And you must have the time and place to get the dog frequent enough elimination opportunities for housetraining. The longer you wait to get help, the more your dog can suffer in the long term.

Give housetraining your very best. Give it your most positive and loving effort. How you handle housetraining will be at the core of your dog’s beliefs about you. Make of it an opportunity to let your dog learn to count on you. Use housetraining to help build a rich and rewarding relationship with your dog.