Remember to exercise your dog sometime in the evening before you bring your dog into the house. Twenty to thirty minutes of good off the chain physical exercise should be sufficient.
About a half hour before you go to bed, walk your dog very briefly around the yard on leash (off the chain) to see if he needs to do his business before bed. Then bring him inside using the leash. Keep him near you and allow him to get used to the house for a few minutes. Take him to his bedtime spot and show him his bed and his bone.
Let him sniff around inside the crate or small gated area and leave him with a few dog treats or pieces of his dog food, the bone and his toys. Stay nearby at first, but don’t fuss with him too much. Turn on the music softly. Let him be able to see you, but just allow him to get settled.
He may jump around excitedly and he may even bark a little bit. Try to ignore him unless he is really getting upset. He should settle down after the lights are all turned off and everyone has gone to bed. Talk to him softly if you need to let him know you are still nearby. If the crate is next to your bed, you can stick your fingers through the bars for him to smell you and know you are nearby. I promise you that each night will get better and easier as your dog learns what to expect.
If your dog is quiet for most of the night but then wakes up suddenly and is restless, he may need to take a trip outside to do his business, but most adult dogs can easily make it through the night with no problem. First thing in the morning when you wake up, get your dog outside quickly before he has time to make a mistake.
So let’s talk a bit about housetraining. Did you know that dogs can be taught to do their business on cue? This comes in very handy when the weather is cold or rainy and you don’t want to walk your dog for miles to find just the right blade of grass. You can begin to teach your dog this now, as you are beginning housetraining.
When you walk your dog for that last business walk before bedtime, try to stand in the same general area of the yard, and say the cue you want to use – “do your business.” When your dog does go, praise him. You can’t make your dog go if he chooses not to, but if you use the same words each time you take your dog outside, right before he does go, he will learn to associate the words with what he has to do. By standing in one spot and not walking all around, you will be teaching him to go wherever you choose, and not only on that perfect blade of grass.
All dogs should be taken out for business last thing before they go to bed. That will help them (and you!) be able to sleep through the night undisturbed. Dogs will need to go outside first thing in the morning and at least 2-3 other times throughout the day. Puppies and older dogs may need to go outside more often, as they can’t hold it quite as long as other dogs. Anytime your dog is acting restless, he might need to go outside, after a meal or a big drink of water, after a crazy playtime or times of excitement – these are all good times to take your dog outside for a business break.
With time, you will get to learn your dog’s personal schedule, so you won’t be taking quite so many trips outside. But in the beginning, you can’t take your dog outside too often. Also, be aware that dogs do get digestive upsets, just like we do. There may be times when he will need more frequent trips outside if he’s not feeling well. Most dogs will learn over time to let you know they need to go outside by running to the door or doing something else that will alert you.
Giving your dog run of the house before he is housetrained reliably is asking for trouble. Dogs don’t do their business in the house to make us angry or to spite us. They go because they need to go and they haven’t learned any better yet. So, if your dog is running around where you can’t see him, and he has to go, he is going to go and there is no way you can prevent it because you aren’t there. It does no good to admonish your dog when you find the evidence, because your dog has already moved his mind on to other things. In order to housetrain your dog quickly and reliably, you must be watching him all the time so you can prevent him from going in the house and get him outside.
If you notice your dog starting to go in the house, distract him quickly and get him outside ASAP. Once outside, give his business cue and then be ready to really praise him when he does it outside. Praising your dog when he goes outside is the only way he will learn where you do want him to do his business.