Housetraining an Italian Greyhound

Housetraining information applicable to all approaches is in the Housetraining Tips section, with more detailed information in the other housetraining sections.

 

Housetraining Tips

When housetraining, the following are very important: consistency, supervision and, when necessary, confinement. *** Utilize praise and treats, and avoid negative corrections or punishment. Housetraining is best done when everyone in the household is aware of, and uses, the same approach with the dog.

  • The fewer accidents that a dog has inside, the better. You want to prevent accidents from occurring. That means close supervision - even attaching your dog to you with a leash if necessary - and confining him when left alone or unsupervised. When confined, you can leave newspaper or a pee pad down for him. He can use it or not, but it might teach him two things - that he may not go in the house, except where you say so (on the pee pad) and that if the weather is bad, he has an alternative to going outside. I recommend placing the pee pads or newspaper in a dog litter box so that the potty area is clearly defined, reducing the similarity between pee pads and other household items such as area rugs and mats. Provide a sufficient number of litter boxes so that they are readily accessible to the dog (when the dog is housetrained, the number can be reduced by gradually moving one closer and closer to another and then removing it – however, the dog should always have easy access to a litter box.)

 

  • When an accident occurs, be sure to clean it with a cleaner that will remove the odor i.e. Anti-Icky Poo. You can also use white vinegar for this purpose - straight or diluted with water. In addition, prior to working on your dog’s housetraining, clean areas where previous accidents have occurred – a black light can be utilized to identify these areas.

 

  • When your dog goes outside (or on a pee pad if you have one down), praise him and give him a high value (tasty) treat. Let him know that you are really pleased. Even after he isn't having accidents, continue to praise and treat - it won't be as important to do so every time though.

 

  • If you catch your dog starting to have, or in the middle or end of, an accident, immediately scoop him up and take him outside or to the pee pads (if being used). Do not yell at him or make a big deal about it - you can say something like, "uhh, uhh." If you find an accident after the fact, do nothing except clean it.

 

  • Try to anticipate when your dog might have to eliminate and take him out (or to the pee pads). Some dogs will walk differently when they have to eliminate and some will sniff around. Try to observe your dog carefully so that you begin to recognize any signals that indicate he might have to potty. Supervising is important so that he can't run off to a different part of the house and potty

 

  • While working with your dog, take him out the same door each time so that he learns to go to that door when he has to go and, similarly, keep your dog's litter box, or boxes, in a consistent location.

 

Some dogs learn to go to the door and whine to let you know that they have to go out. Some people hang a bell near the door and teach the dog to ring it with his nose or paw. You can try doing this by luring him toward it with a treat until he touches, and eventually rings, it - you basically reward tiny, little steps toward the final goal i.e.

He brings his nose toward the bell - you treat. Keep repeating until he is consistent.

He touches the bell with his nose - you treat. Keep repeating until he is consistent.

He rings the bell a small amount with his nose - you treat. Keep repeating until he is consistent.

He rings the bell a significant amount with his nose - you treat. Keep repeating until he is consistent.

 

You would probably not accomplish this all at once, but would move toward the goal in short training sessions. Eventually, he would learn to ring the bell when he has to go out.

 

  • Consider providing some type of sheltered area outside - if he is sheltered, your dog may not mind going outside in inclement weather as much. If your dog is trained to potty outside and inside on potty pads, some people will keep a pee pad inside near the door.

 

  • When you know your dog has to potty and you bring him outside, stay with him and observe to make sure that he goes. He should be praised within seconds of eliminating. If he doesn't go, keep him with you inside and bring him back out again soon. Especially in inclement weather, Italian Greyhounds are known to go outside, but not “go,” and then potty once inside.

 

  • Similarly, if you bring your dog to his/her litter box, stay with the dog and treat and praise when he/she potties.

 

  • During this process, you are consistently communicating to your dog where it is okay to go and rewarding him when he does so.

 

  • When your dog starts looking for his treat after he potties, praise him even more!

 

 

Using belly bands or diapers

 

Using a belly band with a male dog, especially one who is a leg lifter, and a diaper with a female dog, can make accidents less frustrating. Some dogs will not urinate if wearing a belly band or diaper, but some will. However, if they do, the urine will be contained. If using a belly band or diaper, your dog still needs supervision and confinement – these are tools to make housetraining easier for you, but do not replace the housetraining protocol. Therefore, if using a belly band or diaper on your dog during housetraining, treat the dog having an accident the same as you would if he/she were not wearing one, calmly bringing your dog to an acceptable potty location and removing the belly band or diaper.

 

Some male dogs who persist with marking behavior can wear belly bands long-term, changing the belly bands, of course, when urinated in. Most dogs accept wearing them and, with many choices on the market, it is generally possible to find ones that fit and stay on the dog.

 

 

*** Using a crate when a dog cannot be supervised is often advised when housetraining a dog. The concept is that puppies are taught by their mother to keep their den clean – initially, the mother ensures this and, when the puppies are capable, she teaches them to eliminate in a spot away from the den. Down the road, the pup views his crate as his den and wants to keep it clean (the crate should only be large enough for the pup to comfortably stand and turn around – if too large, the pup might “decide” he can eliminate at one end and still have a clean den).

 

However, if your dog tends to eliminate in his crate (does not treat it like a den) or is likely to need to potty when in the crate, then that will not be a good technique for him at this point. What can be used is an extra-large crate with a cushion at one end and a litter box in the other or, alternatively, an exercise pen (four feet x four feet with a cover to prevent climbing).

1. While you are housetraining your Italian Greyhound, he/she should always be in a confined area with access to a litter box, or be under your supervision. Supervision is critical - the fewer accidents there are, the smoother housetraining will go.

  • One option is to use a covered exercise pen that has a cushion, water bowl, and litter box area. Initially, you can spread newspaper or pee pads beyond the litter box, thereby increasing the litter box area and increasing your IG's chance of going on the "proper" material. The litter area can gradually be made smaller until it only consists of the litter box. If using an ex-pen, it should be set up in a location near where you tend to be; you do not want your IG isolated.

  • If you do not have the space for an exercise pen, another option is an extra large (48" long, 30" wide, 33" high) crate. These crates have a top, slide-out pan, and room for a cushion and litter box. Since this does not provide space to play, I would recommend this option only if you are home and able to supervise your IG most of the time. This is not crate training. Crate training utilizes a small crate, providing enough room for your IG to stand  up and turn around, without a litter area.

 

In addition to having a main confinement area i.e. covered exercise pen or crate, supplementary tools to assist with supervision are beneficial:

  • To help with supervision, some IG owners leash their IG to them.

  •  Richell makes a child enclosure system that can be used to assist with supervision. In addition to creating an enclosure, it can be used to block off areas. It is light-weight, not as easily climbable as some enclosures, and is higher than many other enclosure systems. However, it is only 36" high. Therefore, it needs to be used, especially initially, when you are in the same area as your IG. If your IG is inclined to jump, or attempts to climb, it, do not use this product! Our first IG would have been over this in a flash, but, with our current IG, this type of product, in conjunction with gates, worked well to create smaller areas within our house.

 

2. You may need to have more than one litter box so that your IG always has access to one. If there are rooms that your IG will be in with you, especially if the door to it is closed, there needs to be a litter box. You can have more litter boxes initially and gradually reduce the number, but your IG should always be able to get to a litter box when inside. If eliminating a litter box, do it slowly by gradually moving it closer and closer to another existing one. 

 

3. You need to choose a litter box and filler material

  • A plastic litter box - you can purchase a dog litter box (which will have one lowered side for entry/exit), a large plastic container with low sides, a large plastic container with higher sides (you will need to cut an entry/exit on one side, being sure to smooth and then cover rough edges with duct tape), a rabbit tray (available in various sizes and styles through Tractor Supply and rabbit supply sources), a hot water heater or washing machine overflow pan, or a plastic wading pool. Higher sides work well for male leg-lifters. If a low-sided litter box is placed against the side of an ex-pen, disposable or washable pee pads can be extended up and taped to the wire of the pen for leg-lifters. If a low-sided litter box is placed against a wall, disposable or washable pads can be extended from the litter box up the wall and attached to the wall with removable, adhesive spring clips or painter's tape. For leg-lifters, there needs to be an acceptable, vertical area for them to urinate on - pee pads work great for this.

  • It can be beneficial to place a washable, non-skid mat beneath the litter box to prevent the litter box from sliding if a dog jumps into it.

  • Litter box filler - you can use disposable pee pads (some puppies will chew these, in which case, choose a different material; once past the chewing stage, they can often be used without chewing occurring, and work great when traveling), washable pee pads, newspaper, or cat litter (if using litter, consider Feline Pine; it is chemical and dust free). Another option is hydrated hay (often called dehydrated hay) or Timothy hay - since the hay has a similar odor to grass, it, along with the litter box designating the litter area, can be beneficial in encouraging dogs to only potty in the litter area or outside on grass. Hay can be purchased at Tractor Supply or stores selling rabbit supplies. A combination of materials can also be used.

  • Another option, although expensive, for a litter box is a new product called Doggy Bathroom. It has removable sides and utilizes pee pads with adhesive strips for attachment.

4. You need to purchase cleaning supplies - it is important to clean accident locations with an enzymatic cleaner to remove odor so that your dog is not encouraged to "go" in that location again. One recommended product is Zero Odor Pet and another is Anti-Icky-Poo. You can also use white vinegar mixed with some water. Do not use cleansers that contain ammonia - they will enhance the smell of urine. Using a black light in a darkened room will help you locate past accident spots that are in need of additional cleaning. Floor steam and carpet cleaners from companies such as Bissell and Hoover can be a good option.

 

5. Choose a phrase to use when your IG eliminates in the proper place. Your IG will associate this phrase with eliminating and will eventually know that you want him/her to "go" when he/she hears the phrase.

 

6. Housetraining should be a positive experience!

  • No yelling, hitting, or rubbing your IG's nose in "it." IGs are sensitive and will learn best with a positive approach.

  • When your IG is eliminating in the correct place, use the phrase that you have chosen and, when he/she is finished, provide a small treat (really yummy and used only for housetraining) and praise. Let him/her know that he/she has done a great thing!

 

  • If your IG is in the process of having an accident, have a short sound that you say such as, "uh uh," and bring him/her to the correct place where he/she will, hopefully, complete "going," after which you can praise him/her. If you find evidence of an accident after the fact, do nothing except clean it. 

 

7. Help you IG by anticipating when he/she will have to "go" and bringing him/her to the correct spot. It is better to bring your IG to the litter area too often, than not often enough. Some disposable pee pads are impregnated with a scent that will encourage your IG to "go.'" You can also put some of your IG's urine on the litter material that you have chosen in order to encourage him/her to eliminate there.

 

8. If litter box training has been progressing well and your IG has an accident, make sure you are providing adequate supervision and reinforcement. Perhaps you have given your Italian Greyhound too much freedom, too soon. When more freedom is being given, a breakaway cat collar with a bell can be used to assist in knowing if your Italian Greyhound is leaving an area. If there is regression after your IG is trained, go back to the original training procedure, but only after making sure that there is no medical cause for your IG's regression.

 

Litter Box Training

1. Even if you are not litter box training, if you need to leave a puppy or untrained IG alone, he/she should be in a confined area with a potty area. Puppies will need to "go" more frequently than an adult IG. Once housetrained, you will be able to determine how long your IG can "hold it".

A good option for the potty area when the goal is to have an outdoor housetrained dog is to use a litter box with hydrated or Timothy hay. The hay has an odor similar to grass so it will make it easier for your dog to associate pottying with doing so outside on grass. The combination of a physical litter box and the use of hay for litter can also reduce the likelihood of the dog confusing other areas in the house as potty areas. There is more information on litter boxes, including designing one for male leg-lifters, in the Litter Box Training section, number 3.

2. During housetraining, even when you are home, your Italian Greyhound needs to be under your supervision or in a confined area. Supervision is critical - the fewer accidents there are, the smoother housetraining will go.

  • One option is to use a covered exercise pen that has a cushion, water bowl, and litter box area. Initially, you can spread newspaper or pee pads beyond the litter box, thereby increasing the litter box area and increasing your IG's chance of going on the "proper" material. The litter area can gradually be made smaller until it only consists of the litter box. If using an ex-pen, it should be set up in a location near where you tend to be; you do not want your IG isolated.

  • If you do not have the space for an exercise pen, another option is an extra large (48" long, 30" wide, 33" high) crate. These crates have a top, slide-out pan, and room for a cushion and litter box. Since this does not provide space to play, I would recommend this option only if you are home and able to supervise your IG most of the time. This is not crate training. Crate training utilizes a small crate, providing enough room for your IG to stand  up and turn around, without a litter area.

 

In addition to having a main confinement area i.e. covered exercise pen or crate, supplementary tools to assist with supervision are beneficial:



  • To help with supervision, some IG owners leash their IG to them.

  •  Richell makes a child enclosure system that can be used to assist with supervision. In addition to creating an enclosure, it can be used to block off areas. It is light-weight, not as easily climbable as some enclosures, and is higher than many other enclosure systems. However, it is only 36" high. Therefore, it needs to be used, especially initially, when you are in the same area as your IG. If your IG is inclined to jump, or attempts to climb, it, do not use this product! Our first IG would have been over this in a flash, but, with our current IG, this type of product, in conjunction with gates, worked well to create smaller areas within our house.

 

3. Purchase cleaning supplies - it is important to clean accident locations with an enzymatic cleaner to remove odor so that your dog is not encouraged to "go" in that location again. One recommended product is Zero Odor Pet and another is Anti-Icky-Poo. You can also use white vinegar mixed with some water. Do not use cleansers that contain ammonia - they will enhance the smell of urine. Using a black light in a darkened room will help you locate past accident spots that are in need of additional cleaning.

 

4. When housetraining your dog it is important to anticipate when your IG will have to eliminate and to bring him/her outside. In addition, observe your dog for signals/behaviors that indicate that he might need to "potty." It is better to bring your IG outside too often, then not often enough.

 

5. Use the same exit door each time so that your IG will learn to go to that door when he/she needs to eliminate. Some IGs will learn to bark or whine at the door, while others will sit there quietly. You might want to consider hanging a bell near the door and teaching your IG to ring it.

 

6. Choose a phrase to use when your IG eliminates in the proper place. Your IG will associate this phrase with eliminating and will eventually know that you want him/her to "go" when he/she hears the phrase.



7. Stay with your IG to make sure that he/she eliminates (even if you have a securely fenced area).



8. Housetraining should be a positive experience!

  • No yelling, hitting, or rubbing your IG's nose in "it." IGs are sensitive and will learn best with a positive approach.

 

  • When your IG is eliminating in the correct place, use the phrase that you have chosen and, when he/she is finished, provide a small treat (really yummy and used only for housetraining) and praise. Let him/her know that he/she has done a great thing!

 

  • If your IG is in the process of having an accident, have a short sound that you say such as, "uh uh," and bring him/her outside where he/she will, hopefully, complete "going," afterwhich you can praise him/her. If you find evidence of an accident after the fact, do nothing except clean it. 

 

9. Consider providing a sheltered outside area for your IG to use as an elimination spot; a covered exercise pen can be used for this purpose. Since Italian Greyhounds are not fond of inclement weather, they will be more inclined to "go" outside if they are sheltered. Another shelter option is a ShelterLogic greenhouse, or you can be creative and make your own sheltered area.

 If there is snow on the ground, you will probably want to shovel the snow away for your IG. If snow is in the forecast, a tarp can be placed on the ground and, when the snow ends, pull the tarp away to reveal a non-snowy area for your dog.

 

10. Even after your IG is trained, you will need to keep an eye on him/her in inclement weather. Despite having a shelter, if your IG has to cross an open area to get to it or if it is cold or very windy out, your IG may find a spot to "go" inside. It is a good idea to stay with your IG and make sure he/she eliminates. Otherwise, instead of 'going" in the cold or wind, he/she may wait till back inside to find a warm place to "go." 

 

11. If housetraining has been progressing well and your IG has an accident, make sure you are providing adequate supervision and reinforcement. Perhaps you have given your Italian Greyhound too much freedom, too soon. When more freedom is being given, a breakaway cat collar with a bell can be used to assist in knowing if your Italian Greyhound is leaving an area. If there is regression after your IG is trained, go back to the original training procedure, but only after making sure that there is no medical cause for your IG's regression.

 

Outdoor Housetraining

 

It can be difficult for a dog who has been taught to potty outside to understand that using a litter box is acceptable. One approach is to use a small, gated-off area or an exercise pen as a potty area, placing the "litter" material, or combination of material, on the entire floor area.

The ultimate goal is to have the chosen litter material be in a litter box. This can be accomplished by (1) Placing a litter box, with litter material in it, within the area and, as the dog becomes proficient using the potty area, gradually remove the litter material surrounding the litter box or (2) Have the dog learn to use the potty area without a litter box (litter material on the floor with no litter box initially) and, when the dog is okay using the potty area, add a litter box.

There are many options for a litter box and litter material - refer to the Litter Box Training section, number 3 for information. If your dog has been accustomed to pottying outside on grass, using hydrated hay as the litter material, or part of the litter material, might make the transition easier for your dog as the hay has an odor similar to grass.

When introducing a litter box, be patient and observe your dog to ensure he is comfortable stepping into the box. Some dogs might be more comfortable with a large tray. Placing a non-skid mat beneath the litter box will prevent it from sliding when your dog enters it.

 

When you anticipate that your dog will need to eliminate, he should be placed in this area with no open entry/exit - close the exercise pen door or use the gates to create a closed barrier. He is being confined to that area, but you need to stay with him so that you are ready to reward him with a yummy treat and praise when he eliminates. Since you want to encourage the dog to use this area on his own, when not confined within it in by you, there should be an available entry. Placing some of the dog’s urine on the litter material can encourage the dog to eliminate there. Don’t skimp on the praise and treats when the dog shows initiative and uses the potty area!  

With some dogs, it can help to have them become accustomed to eliminating on paper or doggy pee pads outside first. This can be done by placing the pee pads on the ground and directing the dog to that area by leash. Depending on your living environment, you can also initially create the potty area, using an exercise pen or baby gates as described, outside. Once the dog is comfortable using it outside, bring it inside and work with him there.  

The potty area can be relocated (and the surrounding enclosure eliminated), but do so gradually, moving the spot incrementally to where you eventually want its new location to be.

 

Teaching a Dog Trained to Potty Outside to Use a Litter Box

If you are housetraining a male Italian Greyhound who is a leg-lifter or working with a leg-lifting dog who marks, bellybands can be useful. A bellyband is basically a piece of fabric that wraps around the dog's waist. The bellyband should not be used in place of training, and will not housetrain a dog. However, they will prevent urine from getting on furniture, walls, and other items.

 

Washable belly bands that adhere with velcro, such as those from Spoiled Bratzwear Canine Specialties, and disposable ones, such as those from Wiki Wag and AmazonBasics (Male Dog Wrap, Disposable),  are available. Baby diapers placed horizontally around the dog (ignoring the way that they are meant to fit) with the tabs securing them also work well. For a more secure fit, it is best to criss-cross the tabs when securing them. Do not leave your dog in a wet belly band, as irritation or urine burns could result.

Whether or not your Italian Greyhound is wearing a belly band, the housetraining process is the same. You still need to supervise and, if the dog begins to have an accident, take him to the litter box or outside, depending on which method you are using. The only difference is that, upon reaching the designated "potty place," you will need to remove the belly band and encourage him to finish "going." As with training without belly bands, if you observe your dog having an accident, even if you think he has finished, bring him to the "potty place" and remove the belly band. Whenever he goes to his "potty place," whether on his own or with your assistance, his belly band needs to be removed. If he has an accident that you do not observe (which you want to avoid) and only realize due to a wet belly band, do nothing except change the belly band.

 

Again, belly bands protect your home from urine and can reduce the frustration of working with an un-housetrained or marking male dog, but should not be used in place of training - unless you do not want a housetrained dog!

(There are certainly dogs for which active house training is not taking place and belly bands are used; this information is regarding housetraining). 

 

If you have a female dog, you can use washable diapers (available from Spoiled Bratzwear Canine Specialties); disposable female, canine diapers; or disposable baby diapers with a hole cut for your dog's tail. The above information regarding belly bands (second and third paragraph) apply to the use of diapers.

 

Belly Bands (Males)

Diapers (Females)