My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

Diet and Housebreaking


The equation is pretty simple: What goes in your dog comes out of your dog. So it makes sense to review what is going in if you’re having trouble with where things are coming out.

Caution! Some people severely limit a dog’s access to food and water when wrestling with housebreaking. Don’t! We want to make sure you are doing the optimum, not depriving your dog in any way.

Feed a Nutritionally Dense Food

Some foods require you to feed less than others and, when struggling with a dirty dog, the less that goes in, the less that needs to come out.

There is no “perfect” brand of food, but in your situation paying a little more per bag may be cheaper in the long run—both literally cheaper because you will feed less of it per meal, and emotionally cheaper because there will be fewer messes to clean up.

If you decide to change brands, do so slowly – over a week or more; adding a little bit more new food every day and a little less of his old diet. If you rush things, you can create stomach upset in some dogs, so make haste slowly.

Feed the Correct Amount

Each dog is unique, and the recommendations on any dog food bag may be more (or less) than your dog needs. Judge how much you feed by your dog’s weight and output. A dog at a good weight has a visible waist when you look down from above and from the side. They produce a few well-formed stools a day – not numerous, large, semi-formless piles. We know this isn’t anything you normally discuss, but if your dog is eating the wrong food and/or the wrong amount of food, he may have little choice but to make mistakes in the house.

Feed Meals

Put the food down for 15-20 minutes then remove it until the next meal. Be calm. Try not to get invested in what your dog does or doesn’t eat. Speak to your veterinarian if you have concerns but, in general, if you know when things go in – you’ll know when they’ll come out.

Exception, toy breed puppies and especially tiny toys, they need food down all the time.

No Treats or Chewies (for now)

Everything your dog swallows counts as “food,” so put away anything he chews and swallows. Use bits of his dry food as “treats” and try to get your family to help in this effort. If someone shares their snack with your dog at night in front of the TV then that can mess up – literally – the housebreaking.

Shift Meals to Create Success

If your dog has trouble staying clean during the day, consider shifting him to one meal a day fed at night (be sure to ask your veterinarian if this is okay for your age and breed of dog), or feed 2/3 of his daily food allowance at night and 1/3 in the morning. This simple shift can make things instantly easier for some dogs.

Is Your Dog Sensitive to His Food?

Every food works for some dogs and not for others – just as many people can eat one sort of food while others cannot. Signs of possible food sensitivities include: licking/chewing paws, toenails and rear end; dragging rear end on floor; general itchiness; ear infections; chronically dirty ears and/or runny eyes. If your dog exhibits any of these, please speak to your veterinarian.

We hope these simple changes help you and your dog. Good luck!

By Sarah Wilson,

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.