How To Housebreak A Stubborn Dog?

Housebreaking a stubborn dog can be a challenging but essential task for pet owners. If you’ve been struggling with your dog’s persistent indoor accidents, you’re not alone. Many dog owners face this issue, and the good news is that there are effective methods to address it. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions, expert tips, and valuable insights to help you successfully housebreak even the most stubborn dog. Whether you’re dealing with a new puppy or an adult dog with deeply ingrained habits, this article will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to transform your dog into a well-behaved and clean member of your household.

Understanding the Challenge: Why Is Your Dog Stubborn?

Before we dive into the strategies for housebreaking a stubborn dog, it’s crucial to understand why your dog may be exhibiting stubborn behavior in the first place. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they may develop certain behaviors for a variety of reasons:

Fear or Anxiety

Some dogs may have had traumatic experiences related to going outdoors or using specific outdoor spaces, which can lead to fear or anxiety. In such cases, they may prefer the safety of indoor spaces.

Medical Issues

Underlying medical problems, such as urinary tract infections or gastrointestinal issues, can cause frequent accidents. Dogs may not be able to control their bodily functions, leading to indoor messes.

Poor Training or Socialization

Lack of proper training and socialization during a dog’s formative months can result in stubborn behavior. Dogs that were not taught appropriate elimination habits as puppies may continue these habits into adulthood.

Territorial Marking

Some dogs mark their territory by urinating indoors. This behavior can be a sign of dominance or territorial insecurity.

Behavioral Issues

Stubbornness can also stem from behavioral problems such as defiance, dominance, or lack of obedience. These issues may require more focused training techniques.

Now that we’ve explored potential reasons for your dog’s stubbornness, let’s move on to effective methods for housebreaking.

Establish a Consistent Routine

One of the key components of successful housebreaking is establishing a consistent routine for your dog. Dogs thrive on predictability and routine, and having a set schedule for bathroom breaks can significantly reduce accidents. If you’re looking for a creative activity, consider “how to draw a pop-up puppy” as a fun project to engage your dog after a successful bathroom break routine.

Sample Routine for Housebreaking

6:30 AMWake up and immediately go outside.
7:00 AMBreakfast.
7:30 AMOutdoor bathroom break.
12:00 PMOutdoor bathroom break.
5:30 PMDinner.
6:00 PMOutdoor bathroom break.
9:00 PMFinal outdoor bathroom break before bedtime.

By following a routine like the one above, your dog will come to expect when they should go outside, reducing the likelihood of indoor accidents.

Choose a Designated Elimination Area

Another critical aspect of housebreaking is designating a specific area for your dog to eliminate outdoors. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and will be more inclined to use the same spot if it smells familiar. When choosing an area, consider the following:

  • Accessibility: Ensure that the designated area is easily accessible for both you and your dog.
  • Distance: The area should be far enough from your home to prevent your dog from associating going outside with coming right back in.
  • Consistency: Always take your dog to the same spot to reinforce the habit.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in housebreaking a stubborn dog. Reward-based training helps your dog understand what behaviors you want to encourage. Here are some tips for using positive reinforcement effectively:

Treats and Praise

When your dog successfully eliminates outside, immediately reward them with praise and treats. Make it a positive and celebratory experience for your dog.


Reward your dog as soon as they finish their business outside, so they associate the reward with the act of elimination.


Be consistent in your rewards. Every time your dog goes outside to eliminate, offer treats and praise to reinforce the desired behavior.

Supervise Your Dog

Proper supervision is crucial, especially during the initial stages of housebreaking. You must keep a close eye on your dog to prevent accidents indoors. Here are some supervision tips:

Leash Your Dog

Use a leash to keep your dog by your side when indoors, so you can monitor their behavior and catch any signs of needing to go outside.

Frequent Potty Breaks

Take your dog outside frequently, especially after eating, drinking, playing, or waking up. Be vigilant for any signs that your dog needs to go out, such as sniffing or circling.

Crate Training

Crate training can be a valuable tool for housebreaking. Dogs generally do not like to eliminate in their sleeping area, so a crate can help prevent indoor accidents.

Accidents Happen – Clean Up Properly

Even with the best efforts, accidents can still happen during the housebreaking process. It’s crucial to clean up accidents correctly to eliminate the scent and discourage repeat behavior. Follow these steps:

Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

Enzymatic cleaners are designed to break down the proteins in urine and feces, effectively removing the scent that can attract your dog back to the same spot.

Thoroughly Clean

Clean both the stain and the surrounding area. Dogs have an acute sense of smell, and they can detect residual odors that humans might miss.

Don’t Punish After the Fact

Avoid scolding or punishing your dog for accidents after they’ve occurred. Dogs do not connect punishment with past actions, so it will only cause confusion and anxiety.

Be Patient and Persistent

Housebreaking a stubborn dog can be a time-consuming process. It’s essential to remain patient and persistent throughout the journey. Remember that every dog is unique, and progress may vary. Be prepared for setbacks and continue to reinforce good behavior.

Seek Professional Help

If your dog’s stubbornness persists despite your best efforts, it may be time to seek professional help. A certified dog trainer or behaviorist can provide personalized guidance and strategies to address your dog’s specific issues.

Tips and Tricks

To further assist you in housebreaking your stubborn dog, here are some additional tips and tricks:

Monitor Water Intake

Limit your dog’s water intake in the hours leading up to bedtime to reduce the likelihood of nighttime accidents.

Use Bells

Teach your dog to ring a bell when they need to go outside. Hang a bell on the door and ring it before taking your dog out. Eventually, they may learn to ring it themselves.

Be Consistent With Commands

Use consistent commands for elimination, such as “Go potty” or “Do your business.” This helps your dog understand what is expected.

Consult Your Veterinarian

If you suspect medical issues are contributing to your dog’s indoor accidents, consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination.


Can I housebreak an older dog, or is it only for puppies?

Yes, you can housebreak an older dog; it might take a bit more time and patience, but it’s possible.

What’s the quickest way to housebreak a stubborn dog?

There’s no quick fix, but a consistent routine, positive reinforcement, and patience are key.

My dog keeps having accidents. Should I scold them?

No, avoid scolding; it can create anxiety. Focus on positive reinforcement and cleaning up accidents properly.


Housebreaking a stubborn dog can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With the right strategies, consistency, and patience, you can transform your dog into a well-behaved and clean companion. Remember that each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. By understanding the reasons behind your dog’s stubbornness and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively address the issue and build a strong bond with your furry friend.

So, don’t be discouraged by your dog’s stubbornness; instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow together. Your efforts will pay off in the end, leading to a happier and more harmonious life with your beloved pet.

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