Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
Crate training is a vital part of potty training success. As den animals, dogs can appreciate crates as a safe space, and as clean creatures, they’ll often want to keep that sleep space clean. A crate of the proper size is important, as one that is too large may convince the pup they have space to both sleep and eliminate. Puppy pads give dogs the option of relieving themselves in an approved spot indoors. However, these can be tricky to train with if you’re ultimate goal is to get the pup to only potty outside eventually.
Motivational training has its roots in captive animal training, where compulsion and corrections are both difficult and dangerous, and ignoring bad behavior is not problematic as the animal lives under controlled conditions. As a dog training strategy, purely positive training is feasible, but difficult, as it requires time and patience to control the rewards the dog receives for behavior. Some activities such as jumping up or chasing squirrels are intrinsically rewarding, the activity is its own reward, and with some activities the environment may provide reinforcement such as when the response from dog next door encourages barking.
If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a strong likelihood that it’s something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say “no,” and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you’ll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like “sit”) before you throw his toy.
Dogs don’t speak English, and just because we might yell at our dog as we catch him in the middle of peeing on the floor and then rush him outside where he finishes it off… doesn’t mean we did an effective job at telling him that outside was where he was supposed to go. We are usually too focused on getting him NOT to go inside, instead of going outside.
If pup is peeing in the wrong place... you may be able to stop him. Move quickly towards him when he begins to pee and pick him up. Urgency is key here - you want to startle the pup just a little as you move towards them to pick them up, but you DO NOT want to scare the pup. You are redirecting your puppy to the right spot - not disciplining him. Immediately after picking him up, take him to the potty area and patiently wait. Most pups will finish there. Reward your pup with exuberance!
With more than 25 years of experience, renowned dog behavior expert and New York Times best-selling author Cesar Millan is one of the most sought-after authorities in the field of dog behavior and rehabilitation. In March 2014, Millan brings his unmatched canine abilities to communities terrorized by unruly hounds in Nat Geo WILD's new series "... See full bio »
Just because your new dog is old enough that he should know where to potty doesn’t mean that he actually does. An adult dog has the necessary muscle control to hold it for longer periods of time, but if no one ever taught him the potty training rules then he’s the equivalent of a brand new puppy. Age should not be equated with housetraining prowess, so it’s a good idea to treat any dog new to your home as if he’s still learning the potty training ropes.
There are several medical issues that can interfere with potty training. Dogs with a urinary tract infection (UTI) will urinate frequently in small amounts, and will not have much control. You may also notice excessive licking of their genital region. If you notice a change in the consistency of their stool, the cause could be a gastrointestinal issue. Some common causes in puppies are intestinal parasites, having eaten something not in their normal diet, or a sudden food change. If a food change is necessary, do it gradually over 5 to 7 days. If you suspect any of these issues could be a problem, you should consult with your veterinarian.
Most puppies have to eliminate about every 30-45 minutes except, of course, when sleeping. Their elimination schedule will depend upon when they last ate or drank water; rambunctious physical activity; and the big unknown - personal preference! That's right - every pup has their own inherent elimination schedule. The good news is, puppies sleep alot!
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
There also behavioral issues that can interfere with successful training. Urine marking is a normal dog behavior in which the animal will hike their leg and mark a certain area or object. With separation anxiety, the puppy may have accidents inside when you leave them at home alone. Some puppies become nervous or upset when their owners are away. Other puppies have a submissive or excitement urination problem. This causes them to spontaneously urinate during certain activities. Discuss these possibilities with your veterinarian or trainer if you're not getting positive results.
Millan's work focuses on handling a dog with what he calls "calm-assertive energy". He believes that dog owners should establish their role as calm-assertive pack leaders. According to Millan, dogs have three primary needs: exercise, discipline and affection, in that order. In other words, it is the owner's responsibility to fulfill the dog's energy level needs through challenging exercise; then to provide clearly communicated rules, boundaries and limitations; and finally, to provide affection. According to Millan, a common pitfall for American dog owners is to give a great deal of affection with very little exercise and even less discipline. He encourages owners to understand the effect their own attitudes, internal emotions and physical postures have on a dog's behavior, counseling owners to hold strong posture (i.e., shoulders high and chest forward) and to project energy that is calm-assertive.
Consistency and Patience. Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents. The older your pup gets, the more he will be able to control his bladder and bowels. Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to "hold it" for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually develop. Don't forget, most puppies are not completely house trained until they are 6 months old.
Once he seemingly has this idea down, move the string of bells to the left or the right of your dog and see if he moves to go and hit them with his nose; if he does click and treat! Next try moving the bells above his head and then closer to the floor. If he is chasing them with his nose in an attempt to ring them, then he understands what you want!
It’s best not to punish the puppy for making a mistake. Instead, focus on praising appropriate bathroom behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt it by saying “No!” in a firm voice or clapping your hands loudly, then take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Never swat your puppy, yell at it, or try to rub its nose in the mess.
When you are home but can't attend to your puppy, follow the same procedures described above. However, the more time you spend with your puppy, the quicker he will be house trained. Your objective is to take your puppy to his toilet area every time he needs to eliminate. This should be about once every 30-45 minutes; just upon waking; just after eating or drinking; and just after a play session. Provide house training taxi service to avoid unnecessary "mistakes".
It also helps to teach your puppy a “potty phrase” when you take him outside for a bathroom break. A potty phrase is a way to gently remind your puppy what he needs to do when he’s outside. It’s a big help during the potty training phase of puppyhood and you can continue to use for the rest of his life. Pick a phrase like “hurry up” or “go ahead” and say it softly right as your puppy eliminates. In time your dog will associate the phrase with the act of elimination, so you can say it when your puppy gets distracted and forgets what he needs to do outside.
Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email the GCDS Team ([email protected]) or call 0207 518 1011.