How To House Train A Dog

Hey there dog lovers! So you have a new addition to your life/family and now you’re worried about your latest family member messing up your house and living space all because of bathroom and house soiling related issues?

Don’t you worry about that any longer! This article provides you with practical tips needed in house training your dog and ensuring that it knows what to do when it’s time for business.

What Does It Mean?

House training adult dogs/puppies is a skill anybody can learn with the following ingredients; a whole lot of commitment, patience and consistency.

For those who are not familiar with the term ‘house training’, it is basically about training (a pet) to excrete outside the house or only in a special place.

Some people might be more familiar with the term potty training which is more often used where small human children are involved.

It kinda means the same as house training, only that the former is more often used in relation to humans while the latter is used in relation to pets.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s dive straight into how you can make sure your adult dog(s) or puppies are properly house trained and don’t soil your house with faeces and urine.

Helpful Tips To Remember When Training A Dog

  • All adult dogs are different so patience is the name of the game on your part as a trainer.

Some learn very quickly while others may take a while. It may take anywhere between 4 and 6 months for your dog to be fully and properly trained.

  • The whole point of house training is due to the fact that they’ve not yet learned to control their house soiling habits. So unfortunate ‘accidents’ are guaranteed to happen during this process.

Don’t get upset with your dog and punish them. Make sure you keep showing lots of affection so they learn faster.

Reward the positive behaviour you would like to see with treats and simply repeat the training till they learn the good behaviour. 

  • Ensure there are lots of opportunities for your adult dog to practise the potty training habits being taught to them and that they are rewarded each time in order to reinforce the good behaviour.
  • Feed your dog at regular intervals. This will ensure the house training process is stress free on both of you. Don’t feed him/her in between meals during this process.
  • Whether you choose to train your adult dog/puppy to use the toilet outside or inside, ensure the potty area is in the exact same spot.

They will need to build a long lasting memory of that area and dog experts suggest their own smell encourages them to use the bathroom again.

  • Ensure your dog is supervised during the duration of the house training process. Keep an eye on them as much as possible so they don’t have a bowel movement in the house.

You could keep them on a leash during the actual training. This is to ensure that they don’t have too much freedom and accidentally excrete in the house as they move around.


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First, You Need To Create A Consistent Routine

Dogs are highly intelligent animals and, just like humans, they work well with proper structure and order.

If you will only be available to train them in the evenings, ensure the duration of the trainings happen in the evening. Pick a time that works for you and stick with a regular schedule.

Remember, your dog is your best friend, so taking time out of your busy schedule now will save you the stress of cleaning up after them every time they mess up the house later on if you don’t take the time required now to house train them properly.

The best times to carry out house training exercises with your four footed friend are;

  • When they wake up after a full night’s sleep or a nap
  • After they’ve been fed (food or drink)
  • When you notice they sniff the floor
  • When they go around in circles
  • When they get very, very excited. Dogs are naturally playful so it’s particularly obvious when they get more excited than normal. This one should be a very easy one to spot.

Walk Your Dog Outside Frequently And Regularly

If you have access to wide, open, outdoor spaces and you would like your dog to make it a habit of using the toilet there, then make sure you walk your adult dog/puppy to that particular spot so they associate that spot with the toilet/eliminating waste from their bowels, then wait for them to use the toilet.

Please note, if your dog does not go to the bathroom as expected, lead him/her back into the house, then try again and repeat the process.

They will grasp the lesson fast the more you repeat the process and reinforce their positive behaviour with treats.

After your dog has finished its business, make sure you use a particular phrase each time to praise their effort and also reward them with a small treat.

This is will ensure they associate this particular spot as their potty area. For example, you could say after each successful attempt, “Good job boy!” or “Mummy/daddy is proud of you! Well done girl!”

If you would like your dog to be potty trained indoors, pick a specific area of the house where you would like your dog to do its business.

Ensure it’s an area which can easily be cleaned e.g. the bathroom and/or toilet, the garage or a spare room if you have the space for it.

Place the potty in the potty area, walk your dog to the potty area, point to the potty and give your dog a verbal command you would like them to associate with going to the toilet.

After your dog has successfully relived itself, again, use your desired phrase for praising their effort and give them a treat to enforce the positive behaviour trait.

Once again, if your dog doesn’t go to the bathroom as expected the first time, lead him/her to another area of the house, then try again and repeat the process.

They will grasp the lesson fast the more you repeat the process and reinforce their positive behaviour with treats.

Did You Know? – You Can Train Your Dog To Go On Cue

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Remember dogs are very intelligent animals and you can teach them virtually anything including how to communicate to YOU that they want to use the bathroom.

So you’re a very busy person and now that you’ve potty-trained your adult dog/puppy to not soil the house, you don’t actually have the time to take them for regular walks so they can use the toilet, what do you do?

It’s simple; you can train them to let you know they need to go outside by using the following actions as suggestions (feel free to train them to do other things aside the ones here);

  • Train them to sit near the door (leading outside) as a signal.
  • Come near you, sit down on their behind and raise their front right paw up.
  • Come near you and chase their own tail round and round three times.
  • Train them to sit near or on a specific object. E.g. near the stairs, by a particular chair in the house, near the toilet door, etc.
  • Train them to scratch the bottom of the door leading outside, etc.

This helps to build a stronger bond between you and your pet and all you need to do is open the door and let them out to go out and do their business.

Please note this does not apply if your dog has had house training for inside the house. All your dog simply needs to do in this case is go to its potty and do its business.

Now, it is important to bear in mind that part of teaching your dog to go on commond is actually teaching them to hold in their pee.

Now, of course, we are not saying you should keep your dog in for long periods at a time without allowing them go.

However, allowing them hold it in for a bit is a good idea because they might not always have the opprtunity to go immediately when they need to go.

But of course, you should only be considering this if your dog doesn’t have any medical condition that makes them incontinent.

What To Do If Your Adult House Trained Dog Is Still Soiling Your House

Dear pet parent, calm down! Don’t be so upset. It just might be a medical related problem so you would unquestionably need to ensure you take them to your vet to get them checked out.

Below are some commonly shared issues among our four footed friends;

Diet Change

We hope you’ve not been feeding your dog human food like chocolate. Or maybe you’ve changed the type of dog feed you used to give them? Have you noticed any change in feeding habits recently?

Dogs like to hunt naturally. So try and check your house and see if there are any unusual dead animal bones they may have curiously decided to try out.

If you live with other people who love to feed your dog and give them treats, then you may need to question them carefully. A slight change in their diet and/or feeding times may be causing this problem.

Gastrointestinal Upset

A Vet will be able to check your dog out to determine if they have gastrointestinal upset. Appropriate treatment should get this rectified immediately.

Medical Related Incontinence

This usually happens when a dog’s bladder seems to be leaking involuntarily and your dog genuinely seems to even be unaware they’ve done so.

A Vet will be able to determine the cause of the problem which can range from bladder stones to kidney disease to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

If this is the case, your vet will also determine the best cause of treatment for your four pawed friend.

Incontinence Caused by Age

If your dog is now in its ‘senior years’ then this is another very valid reason why it’s suddenly started soiling the house.

Old age also isn’t very friendly to animals so possible causes may include arthritis, deteriorating cerebral functions or just plain weakness. 

If this is the case, your vet will also determine the best cause of treatment.


Your dog’s medication(s), assuming they are on any, just might be the problem. Check with your vet to make sure these medications are not a contributing factor to the house soiling issues.

Sometimes, the issue may not be medical related but behavioural. Below are some common problems;

It May Be A Cry For Attention

Your dog may be feeling a loss of bond for whatever reason and soiling the house deliberately just to get your attention.

This can be remedied by going through the house training process all over again to reinforce positive behaviour and to also foster and reinforce that loving bond with your pet.

If things don’t get better even after another retraining, you may have to consult a dog psychologist for further assistance.

Weather Related

This applies to dogs trained to go outside to relieve their bowels. Depending on where you live, sometimes the weather may take a turn for the worse e.g. harsh winter snows, long rainy days and nights with thunderstorms, etc.  

Your dog simply has no interest in being cold or getting wet because it wants to use the toilet so they do their business inside. Which is very understandable.

You could choose to train them to use a potty inside the house during bad weather periods or you can ensure that the environment outside is conducive enough for them to poo when they step outside.

For rain related issues, you could build an enclosed space outside in the area where your dog normally likes to empty his/her bowels, that way they are protected from the elements when they go outside for a bathroom break.

For snow related issues, if your dog is not the fussy type and doesn’t mind being dressed, you can dress them up in warm clothing and get dog boots for their feet so they are always protected and feel comfortable when going outside for a bathroom break.

Territory Marking

While this might not be very common with domesticated dogs, it is certainly not unusual for a dog to pee around an area to tell other dogs or animals that said spot is theirs. And this could happen anywhere.

This territory marking is usually a result of some kind of perceived threat. That is, if you’ve recently adopted a new pet that your dog feels is competing for what’s theirs, they could feel threatened.

Also, if your dog is only making this mess outside, it could be that there is an animal outside that poses a threat to your dog and you need to look into that.

As far as territory marking goes, though, you’d usually have to contend more with urine than feaces.

Anxiety Or Fear

You know how you might have peed yourself because you were terribly scared? Or even if it wasn’t you (or you just want to forget about it) you’ve probably heard the expression before.

Well, it could happen to dogs too. If they are scared out of their wits they could instantly pee themselves or even poo themselves. And the source of the fear could be anything.

If you already know what your dog is scared of, you could manage the situation easily.

Whatever the issue though, it is our opinion that your first response to a house trained adult peeing and pooing indescriminately should be to place a call to your vet.

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Parting Advice In House Training Your Dog

If you are lucky to live in an area where you have access to lots of outdoor space but you want to potty train your dog to excrete inside the house, it is advisable that you teach your dog how to do their business both inside and outside the house.

Dogs naturally love the outdoors because there’s lots of room to run around and play.

You may accidentally lock them out of the house one day and you don’t want a situation where your dog is anxiously trying to get back inside the house just to use its potty!

Or you don’t want to come back and meet faces/urine right on your front step because your dog wasn’t trained to empty his/her bowels in an outdoor environment.

Avoid this by training your dog on how to excrete both inside and outside the house. You’ll certainly be glad you did.

Happy potty training!

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