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How to House Train Any Dog

It’s no secret how much Vince loves his precious pup Miracle on Tamar & Vince! And while Miracle is adorable, she does lack when it comes to discipline, which can drive Tamar a little crazy! But housetraining a dog shouldn’t be an overwhelming task and experts say the key lies in forming a schedule.

“When you get a new puppy, you’ll need to show him or her what is acceptable in your home,” says Sherry Woodard, animal behavior expert for Best Friends Animal Society. “So for your dog to know what you want, you have to establish a predictable routine.”

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to potty train your beloved pet.

Step #1: Time for a crate—”During the times when you cannot supervise him, it’s wise to restrict the movement of your new pet during the housetraining phase,” says Woodard. “This can be done by giving your dog a crate which includes his bed, food, water and things to chew on in order to create a comfortable den.”

Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS, director of Training and Behavior of the Service Dog Academy and Diabetic Alert Dog University, agrees. “When crate training, be sure to only provide your puppy enough room to fully stretch out since any additional room will allow him to potty in one area and sleep in another.”

Step #2: Establish a daily ritual—”Set up a daily schedule where you walk your dog on lead (or carry her) to the desired elimination spot after meals, after naps and every couple of hours in between,” says Woodard. “To reinforce that the trip has a purpose, you should not play with the dog during trips to eliminate. As soon as she has produced, praise her lavishly and give her a treat.”

Step #3: Come up with your special word or phrase—”It’s also helpful to have a dog that will go on command, so pick a word or phrase (like “get busy” or “do your business”) and say it right before your dog goes to the potty,” advises McNeight. “In several weeks, you will have a dog that will go on command—which will eventually come in handy when it comes time for long days at work!”

Step #4: When all else fails, get moving—Try not to get frustrated if your pet stands around the yard doing nothing but sniffing everything in sight for a few minutes. “If your dog does not go to the bathroom, take him for a short walk around the block,” suggests McNeight. “Exercise stimulates the bowels and bladder to want to evacuate.”

Step #5: Freedom follows “safety”—”After a week or so of no accidents, you can begin allowing the dog freedom in the house after each successful trip outdoors,” says Woodard. “Keep in mind that supervision will still be needed, as well as praise and rewards.” And the common tell-tale sign that your pet needs to do his business: circling and sniffing corners.

Step #6: Encourage him to learn from his accidents—It’s no doubt that accidents will happen. “If you catch your dog in the act, stop him and escort him to the correct spot,” states Woodard. “Praise him if he stops eliminating when you ask him to.” However, if you find the results of an accident after it’s happened, do not punish the dog since punishment could make him afraid to eliminate in your presence. “It’s more effective to clean up the mess and put him in the designated elimination spot, so the smell will help your dog recognize that this is where to go,” adds Woodard.

And when it comes to cleaning your floor or rug, McNeight advises to use a cleaning product specifically made for urine neutralization. “If you don’t, you’re basically leaving behind a flashing Las Vegas-style neon sign that says, ‘Pee Here Again!’”