Perhaps the biggest hurdle to get over with getting a new puppy is the potty training. For some puppies this is a long and messy process. Training your puppy is going to take some patience and some prior knowledge. Read up on what you need to know to make this process as quick and painless as possible.
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This article covers:
- Why to visit a vet if your aged dog is suddenly having accidents
- What to know about dog behavior to give you the right approach to training
- Steps to take to potty train your puppy
- How to deal with specific potty training problems
Schedule a Visit to the Vet
There are many reasons why a dog isn’t sticking to the outside rule. It may be you’re dealing with a puppy that hasn’t learned any better yet. However, if your dog has suddenly started having accidents, or after so much time you are still unsuccessful at housetraining, contact your vet immediately to discover and resolve any possible medical issues that could be the cause. If you dog is an intact male, urinating in the house might also be the cause of his instinct to mark his territory. This can also be resolved with a visit to the vet to have him neutered.
Before beginning to housetrain, it can help to know a few things about dogs and their behaviors. There are a few methods that will do your pup more harm than anything. For example, the old tactic of rubbing your dog’s nose in their feces or urine shouldn’t be used. This tactic and any other form of punishment for accidents will only make your dog afraid of you, and they may hide when they need to go instead of informing you to let them out.
During this learning process it helps to know it’s not instinctive for dogs to relieve themselves outside. They only know not to go where they sleep. With this in mind you have to be patient and take up the responsibility of teaching your dog. Whether it’s a pup or an adult you recently adopted, your dog is new to the house and therefore unaware of your household’s routine, or perhaps even where the door is! Everyone wants housetraining to be over as soon as possible, but the best way for quick and effective training is demonstrating patience and understanding with your dog.
Now to get started with housetraining. If this article is too brief for you, try some published books or videos to give you more ideas! For dog training, instead of punishing bad behavior we are going to reward good behavior. That means to get started you need treats! If your dog is new to you it may take a bit of experimentation to learn their favorite treat, but try a few types out and see what excites your dog the most. The treat you decide on should be small (about the size of your pinky finger) and you’ll need three to five treats per potty break. Your chosen treat will only be given to your dog once they’ve pooped or peed outside. It should be an instant reward, so keep the treats near the door for everytime you take your dog out.
A simple rule of biology is constant feeding equals constant pooping. This eliminates free feeding. Keep to a feeding schedule! If you don’t know where to start, get advice from your vet about how much and how often your dog should be eating. Remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes, and don’t offer your dog more food after the scheduled meal. And the most important step: stick to the schedule!
Clean Up Messes
There are going to be a lot of accidents in your house in the first few weeks. It’s important to clean up messes thoroughly. Pets are prone to return to the scene of the crime of their previous accident to strike again. If you only clean up a little bit your pet will be interested to use that area to go again. However, if you thoroughly clean there will be no attraction to your pet to return again.
So how do you do a thorough job? Pet urine is difficult to get out and you can’t just use standard household cleansers. Hire or rent a carpet cleaner, specifically one with a special pet-urine enzymatic cleaner. Or use an enzymatic cleaner, which is found in most pet supply stores or online. Saturate dried spots with lukewarm water. Then press with paper towels to completely dry the area. Follow the instructions on the container, but a general good tip is to repeat three times.
The accidents found in the house can actually be utilized to teach your dog where they should really be going. Dogs want to go in the same place repeatedly, so pick up any indoor accidents are move it outside to where you want them to relieve themselves. Put the poop on the ground or secure the material used to wipe up urine under a rock or stick. This should encourage your dog to take it outside, and you can remove these “triggers” once your dog has gone in the proper area. Keep the cycle going for as long as it takes for your pup to learn, leaving the most recent poop outside and cleaning up the older droppings. For any indoor meeses you may have moved outside, make sure to go back in to clean up thoroughly the area where it was found.
Keep a close eye on your dog in the early weeks, to properly reward and prevent indoor accidents. If you find a mess after it happened you need to keep closer supervision. Take your dog outside immediately if you see signs of squatting, sniffing, circling, or a straightened tail. Here are the steps you should take when you catch your dog in the act:
- Immediately interrupt them with urgent clapping and verbalized “Ah ah!”
- Take your dog outside, carrying then or putting a leash on when possible. Don’t just take them out and shut the door behind them. Go out with them so you can give them appropriate praise.
- Lead them to the designated potty area and walk about it with them. Don’t talk or play with your dog until they go.
- When they do pick a spot and start to go (which might take a long time), quietly say the command you plan to use in the future to tell them to go. You can say something such as go potty, get busy, do your business, etc.
- Once your dog is done, praise your dog and give several treats, and then play for a while with them. After that your dog gets to do what they want, which can vary from a walk or running back inside.
It’s helpful for you and your dog if the potty breaks are regular and predictable. The intervals between breaks will depend on the age of your dog, as well as their breed and previous training. Remind yourself with an alarm on your phone, going off every ten minutes or at least every hour. Only when the dog is successful for a few days can you gradually lengthen intervals between breaks and give them more access to the house. If you see more accidents in the house take a step back and make the potty breaks more frequent, increase supervision, and limit access to the house. Eventually your pup will get the hang of it.
There are many common obstacles we all face when housetraining. Luckily because they’re so common we know what you need to do in these situations.
- Your dog won’t go once you take them out: Be patient. If nothing happens for ten minutes, go back inside with your dog still on the leash, and try again in another ten or 15 minutes.
- Your dog only wants to play when you take them out: Keep your dog on a leash. Keep away from any play triggers like toys. Ignore the dog and just walk the dog back and forth.
- Your dog has accidents in their crate: This is due to the crate being too large. Get a crate that is a more appropriate size for your dog in which they can comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down.
Housetraining can be gross and frustrating, but done right it won’t last long. You’ll have a lot more fun with your dog in the near future, once this phase is over and your patience results in a fully trained good dog.