Dog Training Tips: How to Potty Train Your Dog
So, you’ve adopted a new dog to your household. Congratulations; what an admirable decision you’ve made!
Now comes the first step in your lifelong adventures; potty training! Dogs naturally eliminate anywhere their little heart desires, and intact (not neutered) males tend to want to scent ‘mark’ raised areas they pass by- of course, by peeing on them. Your pup is going to need to be taught not to eliminate in the house (or other houses for that matter, pet stores seeming to be a favourite).
Note: Most dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep if possible (room, crate, etc).
1. Restrict Movement
Most trainers recommend leashing your puppy or dogs at all times during the potty training process. Keep him always by your side, so you will be able to catch any potential mistakes and run your dog outside.
When you can’t keep your dog at your side due to work or school, crate him. This not only helps prevent accidents (dogs prefer not to eliminate in small areas they must reside in, if possible), but ensures your dog won’t get into trouble. I can’t stress the safety concerns for small puppies enough!
It is important to run your pup to the desired ‘elimination spot’ every time he begins to make a mistake; don’t let it go unattended. Eventually, your dog will learn where the appropriate place to go potty is, and that going inside the house is not acceptable.
Make sure you offer plenty of enthusiastic praise when your pup potties outside, every single time! Let him know that he did a good thing, and it makes you happy!
On the flip side, don’t reprimand your pup if he has an accident in-doors. A small, sharp correction is fine; avoid going overboard such as harsh yelling, or other forms of punishment. The last thing you want to do is instil fear in your dog.
3. Avoid Positive Punishment
In a strict psychological, dog training sense, the term above is a bit misleading; ‘Positive Punishment’ means your are adding some sort of uncomfortable or undesirable stimulus in order to discourage further action. For example- ‘Shock Collars’ are a form of positive punishment correction. The term ‘Positive’ simply indicates an addition, just like ‘negative’ indicates removal (not ‘bad’).
In the older days of dog training, harsher ‘heavy handed’ techniques were recommended for dog training, many that would be deemed cruel by today’s standards. Back then, the idea was to cause a dog to fear potential outcomes if he behaved undesirably. Unfortunately, this form of training often caused a dog to fear its’ handler, which could lead to aggressive or defensive behavior; many trainers/owners were bitten. Thankfully, we’ve learned from our mistakes!
Make potty training a happy, fun experience for your puppy or dog! You wouldn’t scream at or demean your four year old for having an accident, would you? Most mothers congratulate their young children for accomplishments, not punish them for wetting their pants. The principle is the exact same for your dog!
The popular idea today is: Cause your dog to want to behave a certain way, rather than fear the outcome if he doesn’t.
4. Crate Training
Originally, crate training was partially meant to augment potty training. As was stated above, dogs were crated when owners couldn’t watch them.
How to Begin
Crate training is a fantastic idea, but can be difficult if not done properly. Owners that start off crating their puppies for an entire work day, or the entire night, right off the bat are probably going to wind up with an anxious animal. Dogs have even gotten to the point of injuring themselves trying to chew through metal bars.
Attacking this process slowly and gradually is going to be much easier on both of you! For example, start off with short durations while you are in the room, perhaps 10-20 minutes. You’ll want to slowly increase those durations over time (i.e. 10 min, 10 min, 20 min, 30 min, etc).
It is better to crate an anxious puppy while you are away than let a happy puppy roam your house unsupervised while you are away at work. If you are short on time, try starting Friday evening, and working throughout the weekend in preparation for Monday.
1. Don’t alter your behavior by showing excitement when you arrive home at the end of the day, or remorse before you leave. In many cases, this only causes extra anxiety for the dog. Act casual, like nothing out of the ordinary is going on!
2. Try to make your dog’s crate as comfortable as possible. Make sure it is large enough for your pup to turn around in. Line the bottom of it with soft material, like blankets. Leave a toy your pup loves, or perhaps an old shirt that smells like you while you are gone. Make sure your pup’s crate is kept clean and tidy.
Why Dogs Become Anxious when Crated
Overall, dogs often become anxious because they are confined in an unfamiliar area while their (member of the pack) owner has left them. In their minds, the owner has left, possibly never to return!
Don’t use your crate as a punishment. Show them it is only temporary by starting out small, getting them used to the idea that their confinement won’t last forever, and you will be back soon.
Puppy pads are a great option for apartment dwellers who can’t provide much ‘potty’ space outside! Even though the dogs still must be trained to use the pad, most packages come with easy to follow instructions pre-written out for you!
I hope you find this post useful! With loads of patience and determination, I am sure your dog will be potty-trained in no time. Feel free to let us know anymore potty training tips you would like to share!