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What is the Best Way to House Train a Dog?

Puppies like the safety and security of a crate.
Some people prefer to train their dogs on a newspaper in an area they can easily clean.
Pet pads can be purchased to assist in house training a puppy.
A crate for crate training.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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There are two schools of thought on the best way to house train a dog. A commonly espoused though controversial method is called crate training. There are also traditional methods to house train a dog.

Many veterinarians, breeders, kennel clubs, some humane societies and other professional organizations recommend crate training to house train a dog. Proponents are commonly people that regularly require dogs be penned up for various reasons in their daily work.

The idea behind crate training is to teach the dog to control his or her bladder and bowels while indoors by forcing it to spend the vast majority of its time confined to a carrier-type crate. The dog is let out to eliminate outdoors, exercise, and then crated again until fully house trained.

Crate training demands the owner to be attentive and available to keep an eye on the dog for signs of discomfort. A puppy must be let to eliminate as frequently as once an hour, and even an adult dog should be given an opportunity to relieve itself and exercise at least every four hours. Unfortunately, people can easily abuse this method, leaving the dog locked up while going to work or stepping out for hours at a time.

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Dogs are naturally active, social animals that find security in a pack. At home, household members become the dog’s pack. If you house train by crate training, you can expect the dog might cry and bark for the first day at being separated and confined.

Proponents of crate training point out that once the dog has been trained, the door can be left open and the dog can use the crate as a den or bed. If the dog needs to be transported, such as in the case of travel or an emergency, it will already be used to being confined.

The traditional method to house train a dog is paper training, or litter box training. This is a more flexible method for the owner, and arguably more humane for the dog, as it allows the dog freedom of exercise and the ability to relieve itself when needed. For this reason paper training is a better option if you will leave the dog for hours at a time, such as to work, attend lengthy engagements, or even just frequently run in and out.

When you house train a dog using the paper method, the dog is restricted to an area of the house that is easy to clean until it is fully trained. This might be the kitchen or another area with a linoleum floor. Newspapers or a litter box are provided, along with a bed, toys, food and water.

When home, the dog can be let out of the restricted area as long as it is watched. The moment it begins exhibiting signs that it has to eliminate, it is brought to the newspapers or litter box. It will soon learn to use the papers or box with free reign of the house. It can then be easily taught to use the outdoors as well.

There are several advantages to house train by paper training or litter box training. If the dog is to live in the house primarily, you can leave papers or a box down when you can’t be home to let the dog out and he or she will faithfully use them. When you house train using this method you are also less restricted in your schedule, as you don’t have to be available to let the dog out.

A possible disadvantage applies to those that might need to crate their dog for other reasons later. For example, if you plan to show your dog or otherwise engage in activities that require frequent airline travel, it is smarter to house train by crate training. Otherwise, most people find a leash sufficient for moving a dog or visiting a veterinarian’s office. For infrequent moves across country, as in the case of relocation, you can always hire a service to drive your dog across country for you, if you don’t plan to do it yourself.

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Discuss this Article

myharley
Post 9

@SarahSon -- It can take awhile for a dog to be completely house trained. I live in the country and have my dog inside with me most of the time, but she also spends a lot of time outside.

I had the hardest time training her to go outside in the grass instead of right in the middle of the driveway. I don't know if it was because she was young and couldn't hold it as long as she needed to or what. It got easier as she got older, and eventually she got to the point where she would go in one particular area of the yard.

SarahSon
Post 8
I tried puppy crate training, but couldn't stand to listen to her cry and whine. She also started pawing at the door, and I gave in and let her out. I ended up going with paper training.

I am not so sure this is the most efficient way to house train a dog, but it eventually got the job done. When I was gone I would block off the kitchen so the papers weren't on carpet.

When I was home I had papers in more than one room for her to use. I never thought I would get my dog completely house trained. I never realized it would take as long as it did. If I ever have another dog, I don't know which method I would use. The paper training worked OK, but I am not so sure that is what I would go that route again.

golf07
Post 7

The only way I have ever house trained a dog is with crate training. I use puppy crate training when I first get the puppy home and for a few months after that. Once the dog is a little older, and more adjusted to his surroundings and our schedule, I am more lenient. No matter how careful I am, there are always a few accidents, but that is to be expected with any kind of house training.

Mykol
Post 6

@anon50856 -- I wish I lived in a house where I could have a dog door for my dog. I live in an apartment so something like this simply isn't feasible. I have friends who also have a dog door for their two dogs. The door works great for the dogs, but the cats are known to bring in dead birds.

I have never had a dog door, but if you have a puppy wouldn't you still need to house train your dog? I can't imagine they would automatically go outside just because the door was there.

nickimiranda
Post 5

My dog is leash trained and has free rein over the apartment as we live on the top floor. Even after being walked and using the bathroom as soon as we leave the house even for 15 minutes she will relieve herself in one spot only, as if out of spite.

If we crate her when we leave this does not happen but I don't want to have to crate her all the time. What can I do to stop this behavior? We have eliminated the possibility that it is from a medical issue by taking her to the vet.

anon58056
Post 3

I learned that I need to be trained to be a doorman for my dog and that many times it was my fault he messed indoors. Either I was gone for long periods of time or I was busy and forgot to let him out. So I installed a dog door and haven't had trouble since. A dog door is the answer.

anon20421
Post 2

Your puppy might be teething. If s/he has other things to chew, she'll probably leave the newspaper alone. Also make sure the pup isn't simply hungry, and is getting a well-balanced meal that does not include "by-products" in the ingredients.

anon1262
Post 1

My puppy always try to eat the newspaper.

What should I do to make it stop from trying to eat the newspaper?

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