It happened again today… I received a frantic call from a new puppy owner that has grown weary of her dog using the bathroom in the house. This is probably the most frustrating dog training issue for any owner. If you’re reading this, and you’ve experienced this problem, you’re nodding your head right now.
I began with my normal list of questions:
How old is your puppy? The rule of thumb is that for every month of age your dog can last go one hour between potty breaks. So a four-month old puppy should be able to go four hours between breaks. Up to a maximum of 12 hours at 12 months of age. Not that you always want to wait 12 hours… The point is that they should be able to hold it for that duration if absolutely needed.
Do you track his food and water vs his potty habits (inside and outside)? You can almost always find a rhythm to your dog’s natural potty frequency needs. If you’re just guessing, you’re going to get it wrong. Write it down. Chart it.
- Write down when they ate, and then when they go potty.
- Record both number one and number two.
- Record if they went inside or outside.
You get the idea.
Do you crate your dog? The number one way to help most dogs stop using the bathroom in your home is to use a crate. Most dogs are clean by nature, provided they have been properly cared for, and don’t carry a genetic predisposition that prevents them from caring if they lay in their own urine or fecal matter. Because of their natural instinct to avoid laying in their own filth, a crate is an ideal way to control a bladder. If they can’t move away from the mess, they will simply hold it, and wait until you let them out.
And finally, the question of the day…
Do you use puppy potty pads in your house? I always ask this one while holding my breath, and hope that the answer is no. To understand what the problem here is, you need to understand how a dog sees the world.
How Dog’s Learn Where They Should Go Potty
A dog’s learning process is tied to their senses. So if you teach them to sit in the kitchen, and no where else, when you take them outside and tell them to sit, they are going to look at you as if they don’t understand you at all. Because they don’t. It’s simple if you think about it. Dog’s don’t speak English, so they rely on environmental ques (Where you’re standing, what you’re wearing, motions you make with your hands/arms, the floor their standing on…) in order to understand you until you have completed enough repetitions of the command that they finally “get it”.
When you teach a dog to use the bathroom outside, it learns from the things they smell, and the objects that surround them, such as trees, and grass, to learn where they’re supposed to use the bathroom.
Switch that now, and ask yourself a very important question. If your dog is using potty pads inside, does your dog actually understand that it’s supposed to use the bathroom on the potty pad, or does it think pick on all of the other environmental ques inside your home first. The answer is easy to find. Simply pick up the potty pad and see if your dog waits until you let him outside.
Most people are using the potty pads as a temporary solution to train their dogs to not use the bathroom elsewhere. The problem comes when the owner is ready to move potty pads, and they realize that their dog has been trained to use the bathroom inside the home. When they remove the pads the dog simply does what they were trained to do. Pee or poop on the floor.
Do yourself a favor… Don’t introduce these pads as a method of training. If you need a game plan how to do this, read 3 Steps To Stop Your Dog From Using The Bathroom Inside which will help you get a good jump on potty training, and use the remaining pads that you have to clean your house.
Please call Andrew Wildesen, if you need any further assistance: 410-660-6418 Or, sign up for a Positive Motivation Group Class, which can help you get this under control.