Dog Adoption: Housetraining

dog outdoors

Our series of blog posts on dog adoption and welcoming a new dog into your home continues today with a post on how to housetrain your dog to avoid “accidents” in your home and on carpet and furniture.

This post is a good accompaniment to our posts on crate training and positive reinforcement during times of training a pet.

How do you house train a puppy or an older dog? There are many methods and preferences you will find online but below is our preferred process for properly training a dog to go to the bathroom outdoors or in a designated space:

(1) Age & Breed of the Dog

There are some factors that will determine when to start housetraining your dog and how often to schedule bathroom trips during the training period.

A smaller breed of dog has a smaller bladder and will need to go outside during the training period more often. A larger breed can go outdoors less often.

You should wait to start housetraining your dog until he or she is 12-16 weeks old. This won’t be a problem if you adopt an older dog. If you adopt an older dog, you should start immediately to familiarize the dog with their new living space and bathroom area.

(2) Feeding Schedule

How often and when your dog needs to go to the bathroom will depend on how often and when you feed the dog. You should put the dog on a regular feeding schedule and prevent access to food during the in-between times. This will limit the amount of times the dog needs to urinate and defecate each day.

(3) Repetition

Bring the dog outside first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring the dog outside immediately after he or she eats and immediately after the dog wakes up from a nap. Also, be sure to bring the dog outdoors just before bedtime.

Take the dog to the same spot every time so the dog learns where the preferred place for them to go to the bathroom is.

(4) Patience

Be patient and remain outdoors with the dog for the first few months of housetraining. Your accompaniment will make the dog feel more secure and able to relax and go to the bathroom during these times.

(5) Positive Reinforcement & Reward

After your dog goes to the bathroom in the correct spot, be sure to reward the dog with a reward or treat. The minimum would be a pat on the head but if you can provide some form of treat or perhaps a trip to the dog park or walk around the neighborhood, it would be best.

Continue this process for 3-4 months and your dog should be well on the way to being housetrained and able to alert you during the times he or she needs to go to the bathroom outdoors.

During the training process, if an “accident” does occur in your home on the carpet or a rug, you should address the stain immediately. Pet urine contains harsh acids and components that can ruin a carpet and create a potent odor that is very unpleasant.

You should call a professional carpet cleaning service able to remove pet urine odors from rugs and carpet. The stain and odor are almost impossible to remove with homemade solutions or retail cleaning products. We recommend Chem-Dry of Bexar County in San Antonio, if you live near the area.

Good luck in housetraining your new dog! This is another step in building a loving and lasting relationship with your pet.

Dog Adoption: Types of Collars

dog collar

To prepare your home for an adopted dog, you will need to purchase several products for the dog. We recommend a bowl, a leash, a crate for crate training and of course, food and treats. You also need to purchase a dog collar.

We do not recommend pinch collars or choke collars for training dogs. Chain, choke and pinch collars are reserved solely for training purposes but often can cause injury to the dog. We prefer positive reinforcement for training your dog.

There are three types of dog collars we recommend:


The most common type of dog collar is a standard buckle or snap-closure collar. This is for daily wear and features a loop for an ID tag and to connect a leash to. This type of dog collar is often made of fabric or leather. We recommend leather as it will not cause hair loss around the neck.


A smart collar is the newest type of dog collar. These collars offer built-in Wi-Fi and GPS and sync with a smartphone app. This means if your dog runs away you will have a way to track his or her location from your mobile device. Smart collars also include health trackers to monitor heartrate and changes in behavior from your dog. We recommend a smart collar if you have the budget to afford one.


Some dog trainers prefer harnesses while others do not because they do not feel it reinforces enough tension. A harness is nice for a dog that pulls. The harness prevents all of the tension around the dog’s neck and transfers it to the shoulders instead.

There are several other forms of dog collars, including show collars and head collars. A head collar is similar to muzzle. There are many more we could discuss but we feel the most common are the three above.

You can purchase a standard dog collar, smart collar or harness at the local pet store, Target, Petsmart or online.

Be sure you have chosen the right collar for your dog before he or she arrives at your home and place it on them before leaving the animal shelter.

Dog Adoption: Positive Reinforcement

dog treat

You will want to prepare your home before your adopted dog arrives and should consider crate training for the first few months too. You will want the dog’s overall behavior to be good to and training for that should start immediately.

You should practice positive reinforcement when training your adopted dog and that begins the moment he or she arrives at your home.


For positive reinforcement, reward your dog the moment he or she does something good.

The reward should be a small food treat. Perhaps a Milk-Bone®. Don’t reward the dog with something that will occupy him or her for a long time. You want them to be good again right away for the chance at another reward.

Mix up the treats so the dog doesn’t become bored with the same food over and over and be sure to say something positive in accompaniment with the treat. Ideas would be “Good dog!”, “Good job!” or “Yes!”.

The timing is important here because you want the dog to correlate the treat with the most recent activity. This means the moment the dog listens to your command you should give the treat before the dog does anything else.

You should also keep the commands very simple. This means you shouldn’t use long sentences or complicated words for commands for your dog. Here are some good words to use for commands:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Heel
  • Etc.

Be consistent. You want the same command to mean the same thing for everyone in your home. The more repetition and consistency the sooner the dog will understand what it means.

The rewards should decrease over time. First, reward good behavior about 80% of the time then down to 50% then 25% until a reward becomes a much more rate treat only 10% of the time. The dog should soon learn to act good whether there is a treat involved or not.

This should be the goal for you and your relationship with your new adopted dog. Training through positive reinforcement will build a strong bond that will last several years and the lifetime of your dog.

Dog Adoption: Crate Training

dog crate

A popular method of training dogs after adoption is crate training. The purpose of crate training is to create a place in the home where the dog is safe during the evening and hours you are not home.

You can choose between several types of crates. There are fabric models, plastic models and metal models of crates for dogs.


  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment. This will cause the dog to fear the crate and he or she will not want to enter it when you want them to.
  • Do not leave the dog in the crate for too long. Dogs need exercise and interaction and need to go to the bathroom after several hours.
  • Puppies should never spend more than 3-4 straight hours in a crate as they’re unable to hold their bladders for much longer than that.
  • Do not consider the crate a permanent solution. Use it only until you trust the dog not to chew items in your home, urinate in the home or harm himself or herself at all.


  • Introduce the crate to your dog using treats or food or something for them to feel comfortable about the crate. Place one or two treats just over the entry of the crate. If the dog goes in, place more treats near the back of the crate.
  • Place the dog’s food dish in the back of the crate. This will let the dog eat a meal in the crate and he or she will become more comfortable with being in the crate for longer periods of time.
  • Spend time sitting next to the crate with the dog inside. Sit with them for 5-10 minutes at a time and then let them be in the crate your.
  • Leave your home with the dog in the crate but for no longer than 20-30 minutes the first few times.
  • Leave the dog in the crate overnight. Once the dog is comfortable in the crate for an entire evening.

Once your dog is able to sleep the entire night in the crate the training will complete. You should use the crate until you feel comfortable the dog will be safe in your home and not damage anything.

Dog Adoption: Prepare Your Home

new dog

It is very exciting to adopt a dog and welcome him or her in your home. A new dog is very fun but it is a big responsibility too. You need your home to be ready for an adoption dog before he or she arrives.

We will offer a few tips on how to prepare your home for your adopted dog and begin a successful relationship with your new pet right away:


You should determine what area of your home will be the primary sleeping area and living space for your dog. If you plan on crate training, the crate should be placed in this area too.

It might require a few days for your dog to acclimate itself to his or her new home and it might be nervous too. This could lead to accidents so we recommend creating a comfortable space in the kitchen or in a laundry room or entry room with tile floors.


You need to put cleaning chemicals and other toxic items out of the reach of your dog. There are several common cleaning products and household items that can poison a dog and you want to be sure those products are all higher than ground level.

You should also secure cords to the floor or a nearby wall and try to rearrange breakables such as lamps or vases to where they’re safe for at least the first few days after the dog arrives at your home.

If there are areas in your home you do not want the dog to enter, you should consider placing pet gates or baby gates in front of stairways or entryways to contain the dog where you want him or her to be.


Create an ID tag for the dog immediately and bring it with you to the shelter when you arrive to bring your dog home. Place the tag on the collar right away and include your phone number on it too. This ensures the dog will not be lost should he or she run away after arriving at your home.


Create a training plan before the dog arrives. You and your family should agree on commands and vocabulary to use for the dog so that the training is consistent and no confusion occurs. This will help the dog learn much faster and put his or her mind at ease much sooner in their new home.

There are several necessary considerations before your dog arrives at your home. You want the dog to feel safe and secure the moment he or she steps in the door and you want to set yourself up for success in training the dog and acclimating him or her to new surroundings and new people too!

For the first few days, we recommend leaving the dog in your home or in your neighborhood and not introducing him or her to additional strangers in the process of the dog learning to love you and acknowledge you as family.