I’ve had so many enquiries over the past few weeks about toilet training. It is as though dogs and puppies should intinctively know that the living room rug is NOT the place to go. Toilet training can be a very frustrating exercise particularly when in most cases we don’t know how these puppies were raised. Puppies develop a substrate preferrence for elimination at a very early age and so if they have been allowed to go on concrete, tile, towels or where ever they please we sometimes have a harder job to toilet train them to the grass. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done! Toilet training is a lesson in PATIENCE for the owner!!
DIET: There is a direct correlation between what goes in and what comes out. Your choice of food and treats is very important to your house training success. Certain foods can have a tendency to result in larger amounts or increased frequency of bowel movements and individual dogs will vary in the way they metabolize their food. AVOID sudden dietary changes as this can lead to an increase in the consistancy and increase the frequency that the dog needs to defecate. Some dogs will also become very ill if the diet is changed too quickly. Keep them on a feeding schedule and this will give you a pretty good idea of when they will need to go. Food is left down for a period of 10-15 minutes if they haven’t eaten it in that time frame, the food is removed until the next scheduled feeding time. Keep a diary if necessay!
TREATS: Feeding too many treats can make it difficult to control their bowels so make sure your treats are chopped up into very small pieces.
METHOD: The most important lesson YOU need to learn is to keep control at ALL times! Keep them confined to a crate or small area when you are not physically able to supervise them. When they are out of the crate, keep them on a 6′ leash with you HOLDING the other end. Yes! All the time! Even when they are eating, drinking or playing this way they can’t sneek off behind the couch. If they start to position themselves or turn in circles, you are in a position now to interrupt them with an “Ooops” or “Aagh” and take them straight outside to their designated area.
When crating your dog, make sure that they have had the opportunity to relive themselves before putting them in their crates – don’t leave food and water with them. If they have an accident in the crate, stay calm and just clean it up.
Teaching your dog when and where to relieve themselves is done in the following manner:
1/ DRESS APPROPRIATELY so that you can comfortably stay outside with them. They have to learn to eliminate in bad weather as well as good.
2/ USE THE SAME DOOR when they are going out to relieve themselves – this will help them identify that they are going out for the purpose of voiding. You will also find that when they are eventually allowed “free time” in the house and they “need to go” they will run to that doorway.
3/ CHOOSE A SPECIFIC AREA outside that will be used for elimination only. Go directly to that area with the dog on the leash and stand in one place. DON’T MOVE! If you allow you dog to investigate or sniff around a larger area, they will become distracted by the different sights and smells and they won’t be concentrating on voiding. Initially, you can leave a small amount of feces down to help them identify “their spot” but keep the remaining area clean. Dogs don’t like stepping in feces any more than we do.
4/ REPEAT A PHRASE in a quiet monotone voice: “Go Potty”, “Take a Break” or “Toilet” but choose one and always use the same one. You want them to associate your phrase with the process of elimination. Later, this will be helpful in getting them to eliminate quickly on command whenever they hear the phrase. Continue to repeat the phrase until they start to void and then BE SILENT while they are urinating or defecating. Wait until they are completely finished and then verbally PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE! Give them a small treat and either let them have some time outside to explore or take them back into the house for some free time.
Allow a TEN MINUTE PERIOD for them to relieve themselves. Training them to go quickly when first taken outside will give you control over your valuable time. If you play with them before they void you will be forming a habit that you may not always be able to keep because of weather conditions, illness or time restrictions. If they have not voided in the allotted time frame, bring them back inside and put them back in their crate or confined area. Give them another 10 or 15 minutes to think about it and try again. If they don’t do anything this time, try not to take them outside until the next scheduled elimination time. If you take them out too frequently, they may never learn to control themselves for any length of time. Obviously young puppies need to go more often than older dogs but the time between breaks should be gratually lengthened as they get older.
For the first 2 weeks of this program, you should give them an extra 3-5 minutes extra after they have relived themselves to make sure they have completely finished the process. Many owners rush inside too quickly only to have their dogs finish inside what they started outside.
Once they have relieved themselves in the designated area, its PLAY TIME!
If you are going to be away from home for more than 8 hours it may be a good idea to employ a dog walker or put them into Puppy Day Care to begin with so that they are not confined for too long a period.
Immediately after eating or drinking, take them outside to eliminate regardless of when the last time you took them outside. Dogs like people after eating or drinking can experience a gastrointestinal reflex which will result in the need to void.
SMALL BREEDS: There exsists a myth that small dogs can’t be house trained. The fact is that they possess as much intelligence and physical ability to become house trained as any other dog. Owners of small dogs tend to accept or overlook small accidents for a longer period of time and this makes it more difficult to effect successful house training..
TWO WEEKS AND TRAINED: There are people who believe that a dog is house trained if they have been “Clean” in the house for two weeks. For the most part, what actually happens is that the dog has been good for a couple of weeks and based on that, the owners give them freedom in the house. The dog then begins to have “accidents” because they haven’t been completely house trained in the first place. The owner then keeps repeating this cycle which results in a dog that will never be totally trustworthy in the house.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:
I would LOVE to tell you that your dog wil be house trained within a certain time frame however, the truth is that like children, dogs are individuals and will be “Potty Trained” within a varying length of time.
Adhere to the house training principles until your dog had had absolutely NO accidents for at least 12 consecutive weeks.
*NOTE: It is also indicated that most dogs that are not house trained are also not very well behaved, those that are obedient and well behaved are less likely to have “accidents” in the house.
If you have any questions or need further advice, please contact me at canineadvancedtrainingservices.com