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Suggested Reading:

Way To Go by

Patricia McConnell, PhD:

A great, easy read that will be invaluable to you! 

The Tinkle Tamers Program

If your dog isn't housebroken, we don't have to tell you what a problem that is. We feel for you - we've been there! We don't want you or your dog to continue to live that way, and we certainly don't want you to give up. It's a difficult and frustrating situation to live with. Sadly, our animal shelters are full of great dogs whose owners gave up on housebreaking altogether because they didn't know what to do.

If you're serious about doing what it takes to housetrain your dog, there is hope! The Tinkle Tamers™ Program is just for you.  At Wagging Tails Training, we're passionate about helping people understand how to housebreak their dogs most cases, it absolutely can be done, no matter what the dog's age! That's why we offer the Tinkle Tamers™ Program.

On this page, we've provided some information for you to think about. If you have a new puppy or young dog, housebreaking should be pretty straightforward and we can teach you the basics in one session. If you've had your dog awhile and you've tried your best, but your dog still isn't housebroken, we can assess what's going wrong and then develop a plan. Every dog is different and every case requires a customized strategy.

Q: Can my dog be "almost housebroken?"

A: No. There's no such thing - dogs are either housebroken or they're not.

Definition: A housebroken dog will not go to the bathroom indoors unless he/she is physically unable to "hold it."

Some dogs are indeed physically unable - they may have a medical issue due to disease, injury or old age. Sometimes medical treatment solves the problem; sometimes medical treatment in conjunction with a new housebreaking program solves the problem, and sometimes the problem remains. If the problem remains and/or a medical condition is the cause, there are strategies that can be put into place so that the situation can be managed effectively.

Some dogs understand that they're supposed to relieve a full bladder outside (and faithfully do), but they have a marking habit, which is a different house-training issue. Marking is caused by instinctive impulses unrelated to a full bladder, such as making a territorial statement or expressing anxiety, stress or frustration. Sometimes the dog will not mark in front of the owner, which makes it more challenging to address. Many times, neutering the dog solves the problem, but not always. In any case, changing a marking habit requires an informed strategy on the part of the owner.

Q: Is it hard to housebreak a dog?

A: Housebreaking is not a complicated process if you do it right. Even though the steps require a period of intense effort by he owner, housebreaking can usually be accomplished fairly quickly (of course, puppies need to be old enough to hold it). Once the dog "gets it" and is rewarded enough for toileting outside, the job is usually done as long as the dog has regular access to the outside.

Q: Does my dog soil the house because he's mad? It seems like he's either sneaky about it or he does it after I leave the house.

A: No, he doesn't do it because he's mad. Dogs are impulse driven; they don't seek to get back at people. If he's "sneaky," chances are at some point in the past, a human over-reacted when they caught him eliminating inside. So, the dog learned it's unsafe to eliminate in front of humans inside (note he didn't learn it's unsafe to eliminate inside. He probably thinks it's OK to go inside and outside).

If the house soiling happens only after you leave the house, there could be a few explanations. Maybe the dog doesn't actually eliminate when you let him out before you leave (if he has inadvertently formed an association between his eliminating and your leaving the house, he might not go). Maybe he downs a full bowl of water all at once and then there's no-one around to let him out afterwards. Maybe there's some level of isolation or separation distress going on. Whatever the cause, you/we will need to use good detective skills to identify and address the root cause of the behavior.

Q: Do I have to put my dog in a cage to housebreak him?

A: Not always - but honestly, in most cases it's the best idea (the exception is a dog who is "crate phobic" because of a previous experience). Dogs have a natural denning instinct...they feel secure in a closed space. That's why they like to sleep under tables. A dog sees his crate as his own room - his sanctuary - a place where he feels safe. He also has a natural instinct to keep his sleeping area clean of urine and feces. Therefore, if he's confined to a crate after he's had food or drink, he'll learn to "hold it" as opposed to soiling his bed (unless the crate itself is too large - then he can sleep at one end and soil the other). Of course, the dog shouldn't be overcrated and the crate should not be used as a punishment. We have a lot more to tell you about crate training!

How does the Tinkle Tamers Program work?

1. Call us and tell us a little bit about you and your dog.

2. We'll immediately send you a questionnaire to complete; the questions will provide a detailed history for us.

3. When you return the questionnaire, we'll schedule an appointment for an Initial Consultation. We'll also send you a contract to read over. The Tinkle Tamers contract typically states that we will operate on a session-by-session basis as opposed to contracting for a specific number of sessions. This is because we'll need to assess progress as we go and because success depends largely on the commitment of the owner.

4. At the Initial Consultation, we'll identify a plan of action and sign the contract. Payment for the Initial Consultation will be due that day; subsequent fees will be due at each follow-up session.

5. The program includes touching base by telephone (under 10 minutes) and e-mail between sessions.


Initial Consultation (approximately 90 minutes): $95.00

Subsequent In-Depth Telephone Support: $15.00 for 10-15 minutes

Subsequent In-Person Sessions: $70.00 per hour

Q: Can you guarantee that my dog will be housebroken?

A: Honestly, no. There are a lot of variables and lot depends on you!