By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance
House training issues are a common complaint among dog and puppy owners. Even if you provide your pup with the best food, toys, vet care and dog insurance, most dog owners will struggle a bit with potty training at first. As owners we often unknowingly set-up our dogs to fail house training. These are common mistakes that can be easily remedied.
First be consistent with potty breaks. You should always set your puppy or dog up to succeed. I suggest setting a timer for every 60 to 90 minutes. When the timer goes off, take your puppy outside on a leash and ask your puppy to “go potty.” You can use any cue word you would like. Some people ask their dogs to “do their business”, “take a break,” “go potty,” etc. It doesn’t matter what you say, just be consistent.
As soon as your new puppy finishes going, immediately say “good” and give your pup a treat. It is important you give the treat outside as soon as your pup finishes. If you wait until you take him inside, he may not realize that he is getting a treat for going potty. You want to be very clear that he is getting the treat for relieving himself outside. I often recommend people make a big deal of the puppy going outside, praise, treats and happy talk. You want your puppy to “love” going outside to potty.
So what should you do when your puppy has an accident inside? If you see the accident after the puppy has gone, simply clean up the spot with a good enzyme based cleaner, to remove the odor. DO NOT punish your puppy or bring attention to the accident. If the pup or dog has an accident, it is simply that– an accident. Next time just be aware of the puppy’s needs and take him out more frequently. Remember the dog cannot open the door and let himself out, they have to depend on us to let them out.
If you catch the puppy in the act of relieving himself inside, scoop him up and take him outside. Do not scold him, or punish him. This is where many people make a mistake by correcting the puppy. You should NEVER correct your pup for having an accident. Correcting your puppy does not teach him to stop relieving himself inside, but it does teach him that going in the presence of people is dangerous.
This is why some puppies will go into another room, or hide behind furniture to relieve themselves. They need to relieve themselves, but they are frightened of what may happen when people are present.
Correcting a dog or puppy for relieving themselves can create another issue; dogs that will not relieve themselves when on lead. If your dog will not relieve himself when on a lead, it may be difficult to:
– Take your dog on a trip and stop for potty breaks
– Leash walk your pet if he becomes injured
-Kennel your dog
-Compete in dog shows
-Train him to be a therapy dog
Another method for house training, is to teach your dog or puppy to ring a bell to notify you that it is time to go outside. Hang some bells on the wall beside the door you take your puppy out for potty breaks.
(Do not hang the bells on the door knob since people opening and closing the door will cause the bells to ring sending the puppy mixed signals.) Every time you take your puppy outside, say to your pup “let’s go potty” ring the bells and take the puppy outside. Soon your puppy will associate ringing the bells with going outside to relieve himself.
There is a common myth that certain breeds of dogs are harder to house train than others. This is actually a misconception. Most of the dogs that get this bad reputation are the smaller breeds like Yorkies, Maltese and Bischons. Because these breeds are smaller, the accidents are smaller, so many people are not as disturbed and therefore the house training is not as urgent. The urgency in house training often correlates with the size of the dog’s accident. Any dog or puppy can be house trained, no excuses for the little ones.
One last note; if you notice your puppy or dog relieving himself more frequently than usual or needing to go out more often, you should consult your veterinarian. Your vet can rule out possible medical issues, such as urinary tract infections, which may sideline your house training efforts. UTIs are not uncommon in dogs and can be very painful. This is another good reason to look into pet insurance for your new puppy if you haven’t already. Your vet can do a simple urinalysis and provide you with medication to clear up this condition.