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Housetraining Adult


Ready, Set, Go Approach
for Adolescent & Adult Dogs

Let's face it - housetraining stinks (literally!) It can feel like a full time job, especially if you are having to train or retrain adolescent or adult dogs. Following these guidelines will make it as painless and efficient as possible so that you can move from housetraining to the good stuff.

Get Ready

Let's get ready by getting our supplies

Get Supplies

Cleaning Supplies

Let's get started by doing a deep clean! We want to remove the chemical signals your dog's potty accidents have left behind. This is an important part of efficient potty training.  You are going to need a few supplies:


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These are our favorite cleaners, but you can buy any cleaner for pet messes that has an active enzyme. You will need two different kinds for this procedure. Click here for several other options.

Pens & Crates

You'll also need a pen or two & a crate or two.  

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Here is a link that shows you how to size your crate:

Tethers & Enrichment Items

A leash works well as a tether. We like round ones so they are soft and won't damage furniture, or wharever you are using as an anchor.  If you have one already - we can use it. We like a 6 foot leash for tethering - it's not too long or too short. If you have a leash chewer, have a look at chew proof tethers.

We will need some enrichment items for times when your dog needs to be confined for longer periods. We love licking mats. There are some other reccomendations on our puppy products page.

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Get Set

Let's get set up so we can make this as easy on ourselves as possible. We will do a deep clean and set up our pens, crates and tethers.

VIP: a good clean

Follow this Clean Up Procedure Before Getting Started

*if you have children, this can be a ton of fun for them - they love to play detective! Here's some downloadable instructions.

Night 1

1. At night, with all the lights off in your home, walk through your house with your blacklight on. 

2. If you see a spot that lights up, take a piece of blue painters tape and mark the area by putting a piece of tape on it.

3. Continue until you have marked all spots that light up.

4. Turn the lights on and take one of your cleaners and clean the areas marked. Don't skimp on the cleaners! They need to do their work.

Urine stains:

Tips for a good clean: the enzyme cleaners need to be damp to work.  We like to moisten the area, then put some paper towels on top of the spot, then put something heavy on top.  The paper towels will absorb the urine, and the enzymes will have time to work. When in doubt, read the instructions on the cleaner. Don't forget to do a spot test so that you can be sure your carpet is safe for the cleaner you choose.

Poop messes:

Always clean up an solid waste before using an enzyme cleaner.  We like to pick it up, then do a wipe with an anti-bacterial cleaner before we do the enzyme cleaner.

Black light tip: 

Depending on the black light you choose, spots will have different colors/intensities when they light up.  Take a picture with your phone camera the first night. This will show you what color your spots are before they are cleaned. 

Night 2

Repeat the procedure but use the other cleaner. The cleaned areas will still light up, but they will have a different intensity than the first night. Take a picture with the black light on and the lights off before you do your night two clean up process. 


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Confinement Areas

Because you have an adult or adolescent dog, we will start with a pen or crate as a confinement area. We use confinement areas for times when you aren't able to directly supervise your dog. If you choose a pen, and your dog has an accident in it, you will need to start with a crate. 

If your dog is less than 6 months old, use our puppy housetraining instructions instead

If you work from home, we recommend a confinement area near your working station.  This will help you know when your dog wakes up from a nap and needs to go outside.  More details about this in the next section.

Common locations for setting up confinement areas:

  • Near desk

  • In bedroom

  • Near or in family room

You can also create a tether station by slipping your leash handle under a desk or table leg. Be very careful - if you have a chewer this may not be the best choice. 



It's Go Time!

Steps to Housetrain

Keep a Log

For the first few weeks, track your dog's potty behaviors. If s/he goes pee outside, write it down.  Same for poop. Track accidents too.  Write down the date/time/location and whether it was pee or poop. Our goal here is to better understand out dog's natural potty times.


  • Prevent mistake indoors

  • Crate overnight

  • Supervise "empty" dogs

  • Use your confinement areas for times you cannot directly supervise your dog. Direct supervision is eyes on at all times (so your pup doesn't sneak away and potty indoors)

You are set up for effective management with your pens, crates, and tethers. Management is about preventing mistakes and is critical to success. Everytime our dog has an accident in an unwanted location, that behavior was reinforced. The relief your dog felt from going pee or poop was like receiving a paycheck for that behavior - increasing the likelihood of it happening again. 

Dogs also leave chemical signals when they eliminate. These are like posting a flag that says "go here!" We don't want these invisible flags around our homes, so it's important to prevent it from happening. You removed these flags during your deep clean.  Be sure to clean up any accidents along the way too! 

When is Go Time?

Take your dog outdoors to potty immediately after waking up from the night or a nap, after eating or drinking, and after playing  or hanging out for 30 mins.  We will gradually extend the play and hang out times as we gather more information from our tracking log.

  • Accompany your dog to the outdoor potty location and pay with a treat immediately after the poop or pee

    • If you don't go out with your dog, and you pay at the door, you just paid for coming inside, not going potty

    • Once you are familiar with the signs your dog gives right before he goes, say "go potty" before he squats or lifts leg. This will build a "go potty" cue so that in the future you will be able to say it and he will go on cue.

  • If dog just pottied, he is "empty" - If you don't see your dog potty, consider him full

    • Empty dogs can be placed in confinement area or spend time with the family with direct supervision

  • Pen or crate if not empty and/or if not directly supervising

  • Use crate for sleeping


Click boxes below for downloadable resources.
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