How to know it’s time to stop housetraining

Just one indoor accident can create a bad habit and cause a housetraining setback. You may be eager to stop confining your pup to a crate or playroom, but keep in mind, she’ll enjoy much more freedom in the long run if she’s reliably housetrained.

When ending housetraining, it really pays to be cautious and ease out of the program slowly. Puppies can get the concept of housetraining within a few weeks, but they aren’t physically capable of “holding it” for very long until they’re six months of age at the earliest, and often closer to eight or nine months.

If your pup’s younger than nine months, keep her in her puppy playroom or crate when you’re not watching her closely, even if she seems housetrained. This prevents mistakes that can sabotage all your hard work.

For adult dogs, follow the three-step housetraining program for at least a month before you test your dog to see if she’s really got it.

So how do you know when your housetraining is done?

Test your dog

Here’s how to know your dog has passed:

* When you release her from her crate, she ‘asks’ to go outside rather than waiting for you to lead her there. If that happens praise her profusely, take her out, and give her a treat if she eliminates. She’s earned the right to spend more time outside of her crate or playroom.

Here’s how to know she needs more time:

* She doesn’t eliminate when you take her outside. Watch her like a hawk when you bring her in and as soon as she shows any sign that she’s about to pee or poop, shout, “Outside, outside!” and hustle her back out the door. Then go back to the three step housetraining program for one or two weeks before you try another test.

Gradually open up the rest of the house

Once your dog has made it through at least three months without a housesoiling (or chewing) mishap, you can increase the size of her puppy playroom to two rooms. For each subsequent month without a mistake, give her access to another room, until she enjoys free run of the entire home. If she has an accident, go back to the original three-step housetraining program for at least a week.

–by Ian Dunbar