Whether you’ve just brought home a puppy or unhousebroken adult dog, potty-training is a smelly training issue you must now overcome… And fast! Unfortunately, it isn’t as straight forward as it may seem
Assuming you’ve ruled out any health issues (urinary tract infections, sphincter mechanism issues, diabetes, etc…), the following are common errors that dog owners make when potty-training:
Asking the impossible
First of all, we should discuss what is voluntary behaviour for a puppy. For every month of his life, a dog can “hold it” for approximately one hour at rest. After this, elimination becomes involuntary. That means he can hold it while lying down and doing nothing. If he eats, drinks or plays, that time goes down drastically. A two month old puppy that just played a good game of tug-of-war may have to relieve himself after just five minutes!
As a rule, it’s not very kind to force a dog to “hold it” for more than four or five hours, even as an adult. They may be able to successfully do so, but that doesn’t mean it feels good!
Too much freedom too soon
Dogs are clean animals. Despite their propensity to roll in poo and eat whatever putrefied remains they can get their paws on, they aren’t too fond of living in their waste. Most correctly housebroken dogs are pretty careful about not even stepping in excrement. Now, eating it is a horse of a different colour!
Keeping an unsupervised dog in a limited area (crate, round-pen…) is a great way to encourage him to keep that area clean. If Rover has a whole house to soil in, there is no motivation for him to keep it clean. He can poop in the guest room and nap or play in the den! As he gets better at keeping his living area clean, he can be trusted to roam larger portions of the house.
Many household cleaners have substances that may mask odours as far as insensitive human noses are concerned, but they aren’t fooling your dog! Ammonia is the most common ingredient that only serves to intensify the odour. Vinegar and bleach are good cleaners. a 50/50 vinegar and water solution or a 10% bleach and water solution are both effective cleaners. There are many cleaners available on the market, specifically designed to remove any trace of urine or feces. The more porous the surface, the harder it will be to clean. Steam-clean any soft surfaces, such as carpets.
Allowing Rover to tell you when he’d like to go outside
You should be taking your dog out to eliminate often. By getting into the habit of allowing your dog to scratch at the door, whine or otherwise signal that he wishes to go outside will likely come back and bite you in the rear.
It leads a dog to be quite insistent about letting you know he wants something, while still not teaching him the correct lesson: no soiling in the house. If you already have a dog that does this, just ignore it from now on and decide yourself when it’s time to go outside. Shortly after play, naps, meals or drinking are ideal times to go outside to potty, or whenever you see him sniffing the ground, stopping what he was doing abruptly and looking around or sniffing, Rover may have to relieve himself.
Don’t send him out alone
Take your dog out on leash, so when you give your reward (a tasty morsel!), you can do so right where and when he potties. Giving Fido a treat when he comes back in the house rewards him for coming back inside, instead of for going to the bathroom in the correct location. Yes, this means that you have to go outside even when it’s cold, raining or snowing. Take heart, you won’t have to do this forever!
Punishment, physical or verbal, will only serve to make your dog hesitant to eliminate in front of you. What you can do is take a newspaper, roll it up and smack yourself with it for not taking your dog out sooner! No matter how frustrated you are, don’t yell at or hit your dog, and for the love of Dog, don’t rub his nose in it! These rules apply whether you just found the little present Pooch left on the rug or you caught him leaving it.
‘Pee pads’ are absorbent mats made to teach your dog to eliminate in a specific area, and are alluring because of how simple it is to teach a puppy to soil on one. The problem is that, as you start leaving the pad out less and less, your dog may consider any household mat a valid alternative, and that’s an even tougher behaviour to eliminate, because in Rover’s eyes, it’s okay to soil on mats. Some dogs also love to rip them up, and that can be a choking or digestive hazard.
By using these tips, your house will no longer be Pooch’s bathroom.
Good luck, and happy training!