Pet owners who want to house break their dogs will often practice helping their new pup learn the rules of the home by “paper training” them. This involves teaching your dog to only eliminate in one area of the house, by covering the area with newspaper or thick paper towels while they are in the learning phase. This helps dogs get used to going only in certain areas (those covered with paper) rather than just any tile floor or carpeted area in the house.  Currently people use many different things to train a dog, such as indoor grass patches, potty pads, or sod/litter boxes for dogs, etc.

To successfully paper train a dog you will need the following items:

  • newspaper or paper towels
  • puppy treats
  • ammonia-eliminating urine cleaner/floor cleaner, etc.
  • a play pen or indoor metal crate (to identify where the “safe” zone is for a puppy to do his business.)

Here are some simple steps on how to paper train a dog:

Choose the training space. A utility (laundry) room or a small bathroom usually works well as a training area.  Alternatively, if you set up a metal play pen or crate, this will help the dog identify the area as his own space.

Prepare the floor. Cover the color with a plastic sheet underneath so that it will be easier to clean and dispose of any liquids. Then over the sheet, place paper towels or newspaper over the entire area.  In one corner of the space, place the dog’s bed, toys, and food/water bowls. If the dog should “go” anywhere, it will be safe and easy to clean up.  You want to first establish this place as the dog’s space for all things.

Begin the training process. Whenever the dog leaves waste or urine, clean it up as soon as possible.  Save one shred of the soiled paper, however, and set it up in a specific area you’d like him to practice going on.  The scent of that scrap will jog the dog’s memory and might incline him to designate that patch as his preferred “bathroom.”  Let this practice continue for a few days.

Limit the paper-covered area.  Once your dog seems to be consistently eliminating in a small general area, begin removing the paper from elsewhere in the zone.  For example, if you have set the pup up in a play pen, remove about a foot of the paper from the outer perimeters where he does not leave any markings. The next day or two, remove the paper under the water and food bowls,  and under the doggy bed.  Watch to see how your pup reacts. If he consistent keeps going on the paper-covered places, then you can keep removing the excess paper gradually day by day.  If your pup gets confused, and starts eliminating on the floor where paper has been removed, you will have to re-cover the whole area again and start over. If this happens to you, do not be discouraged, as it is quite common. This just means that the next time around, you will have to progress at a much slower pace.

Reward the dog.  Every time you see your pup urinating in the “safe zone” give him praise and a treat! This will reinforce that he is doing a good job, and will encourage him to continue.

Establish the final waste area. Once your dog has adjusted to going on only a small/medium patch of paper, begin moving it slowly but surely a couple inches every day until it is located where you want it.  If your dog slips up and urinates near the patch, it could be because you did not sufficiently clean up the urine smell where the potty pad was the day before.  Make sure to erase any scent of waste as you shift the paper patch closer and closer to the area you want it to be (ideally in a corner, or someplace not immediately underfoot).  Then the dog will be successfully paper trained in the exact area of the house where it is permissible for him to go.  Aside from daily clean up, your job training the dog will be done!

Note: For city-dwelling pets, learning to consistently eliminate on a designated patch is all that a pet parent could really want, as there is no backyard option.  However,  for people with yards who want to train their dogs to go outside, they can continue to move the paper patch a few inches every day toward the exit.  Eventually, the patch can be right outside the door, and on the lawn, so that the dog will learn to let himself out to go on the lawn. This is one method of teaching a dog to take initiative and eliminate outdoors.

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