How to House Train Your Dog

If you already have a puppy, ESPECIALLY a large breed puppy, you’ve no doubt come to the same conclusion as the rest of us dog owners: the first and most important thing to do with your new puppy is potty training.
First of all, while you’re sure to disagree with this, in your dog’s mind your house and the backyard are equally good places to relieve himself. Given a choice, he will happily do his business in both and thus it’s your job to teach him the difference and which is acceptable.
The first thing you’ll need is a crate or kennel for your puppy, while he is still a puppy (large breed dogs will quickly outgrow the largest crate or kennel). He should be in his crate whenever you aren’t actively walking him or playing with him. He should also remain in the kennel when you aren’t home and when sleeping at night. While this might at first glance seem cruel, keep in mind that domestic dogs were once den dwelling animals and most will like the feeling of security they get from their crate.
It’s important to not give your puppy the free run of your house, as that may give him an early feeling of dominance and this will make all future training more difficult. Also, most dogs will not relieve themselves inside their kennels, which makes accidents less likely.
The best time to start house breaking your dog is just before the weekend, when you’ll have two full days to spend just on potty training. You should spend most of these two days around your dog making him feel secure and getting him on a schedule, as explained below. Be sure to have plenty of puppy-appropriate treats to use in your potty training.
You’ll first want to develop a schedule for your dog to follow based on their age. A good rule of thumb is that a puppies can hold themselves for one hour for each month of age, plus one hour. Thus, a four month old puppy should be able to hold it for about four hours. This doesn’t mean you should wait four hours before taking him out, but it’s a good general indicator of how long you have before an accident occurs.
Set a schedule for feeding and watering your dog at the same time every day (or twice a day if your dog prefers eating twice a day instead of once). After your dog eats, immediately take him outside to go potty, being sure to choose the area of your yard that you want him to use. Take him that area and walk him around, always using the same cue phrase. The one we like best is a simple “Go Potty”. Make sure everyone who takes him outside uses this same phrase every time and soon it will be ingrained in your dog’s mind and he will eventually relate this phrase with relieving himself.
Keep repeating this phrase while your puppy goes potty until he’s completely done. Then, give him lots of praise and affection, along with a treat. If he doesn’t go within about five minutes, take him back inside and place him in his crate. After fifteen or twenty minutes, take him back outside and repeat the process. Do this as many times as necessary until he finally goes.
Throughout the rest of the day and evening, all the way until bedtime, repeat the process every hour or so, even though he hasn’t eaten. Be sure to try to get him to go right before you put him in his crate for bedtime. While he’s still a puppy, you’ll need to set an alarm for at least once during the night, as young puppies will not be able to hold it all night.
For most dogs, this method works within a few days, although every puppy will have a few accidents along the way – it’s just to be expected and you must be patient. It’s important to note that these are just accidents and your puppy is not deliberately doing it to disobey you.
And always remember this: what your dog wants most is your love and approval. The more you give, the better he will respond to training.