No training is more basic for pet owners than that first important lesson: Do it outside!
Teaching your new puppy to eliminate outside the home, not in it, can start between six and eight weeks of age. Dogs as young as four weeks have been started with potty training, but at that age few have the muscular control to succeed.
Like any dog training regimen, trainer patience is as important as the dog's temperament. ‘Sit', ‘stay' and other behaviors can often be learned in a few days. ‘Potty' training your puppy may take weeks – perhaps as short as two, often a month or more.
As with other learned behaviors, it helps to watch for signs of the wanted actions and enforce and direct them with a voice command followed by praise. In this case that technique works even more to the trainer's advantage, since all dogs will naturally eliminate. The trick is to get them to do it when and where you want!
Observe for circling or squatting, then pick up the pup, say ‘outside' and dash outside. The puppy may circle some more, but will often squat rapidly. As it starts, say ‘Go potty' ( or some other unique phrase) in a clear, firm (but not angry) voice. Wait until she is finished and then her praise lavishly.
You won't always be able to observe the puppy about to begin, but don't become angry or impatient when the dog eliminates indoors. It takes lots of repetition for your puppy to learn to tell you it's time to ‘go potty'. It takes some time for the muscles needed to control bladder and bowels to develop properly.
Puppies need to potty every 2-3 hours, on average. If you haven't spotted pre-elimination behavior within that time, take the dog outside anyway. Issue the command ‘Go potty' and wait. At first, usually, the dog will have no clue what you want.
Especially, even when outside, it helps to wait and observe for the desired behavior then issue the command. That helps the dog associate the command with the behavior. Wait a few minutes and If the dog hasn't gone, even after a few ‘Go potty' commands, take it back inside for an hour. Of course, if you notice the pre-elimination behavior in less time, go outside again immediately.
Dogs have an innate ability to quickly learn what their ‘alpha' (the leader of the pack) wants. This is almost always accomplished by associating a verbal command with behavior, followed by praise. Punishment is usually counter-productive, and nowhere more so than in waste elimination training. Never rub a dog's nose in the mess.
Paper and/or crate training is preferred by some. Your pup can be trained to go on a newspaper, or on one of the chemically treated housebreaking pads designed for the purpose. Some small breeds that live all day in the home may not need to go outside at all.
The technique has a couple of downsides however. Unlike cats, dogs will seldom go in a scented litter box. Elimination on newspapers often leaves lingering odors in your house.
Also, long before the odor becomes noticeable to humans, dogs can smell their own distinctive aroma. Puppies don't find the smell unattractive – quite the opposite. And that is where the problem lays.
Paper trained dogs will prefer to eliminate indoors. Occasionally they'll miss the paper by only an inch, creating a mess to clean up.
Once the smell is in the carpet, the dog will often seek that spot out as its proper ‘place to go'. This makes training the dog to eliminate outside even more difficult. Best to suffer a few accidents than to create a hard-to-overcome habit.
The keys to any dog training are patience, praise and consistency. House training is the first test for you and your dog.
Get more tips and advice on housetraining or dog training at Luvurdog.com/dogtraining
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