08 Feb Potty Training for Dogs
Like crate training, potty training is a game of managing space. The more room the pup has to roam the more likely they will be to have an accident.
I recommend you have some way to confine the pup to a specific area. Typically, this area will be on a surface like tile or hardwood flooring. You can use an X pen or a puppy play pen to confine the pup or you can use a baby gate to close in an area like a kitchen or laundry room.
As a rule of thumb, a pup will have to urinate within 20 minutes of drinking (I do not recommend withholding water from a growing pup) and will have to defecate within 45 mins to an hour of eating.
A feeding schedule is important. Your pup should have to poop once for each feeding + 1. So, if your pup is eating 3 meals per day then you can expect them to need to poop up to 4 times per day.
Habit training is a good way to establish potty training. Using the guidelines from above, you will take the pup out after each drinking and eating session. You will also take the pup out around once an hour. It is important to vary the time. For example, do not take the pup out every half hour or hour on the dot. You can inadvertently create entrainment, randomizing the sessions will avoid this. Over time increase the length of time between potty sessions.
Your pup will have accidents. Punishment after the crime is NOT acceptable. Dragging the pup over to the spot to be scolded is highly unlikely to form any connection. Therefore, it is important for you to catch them in the act.
If you see the pup squat as if to pee, clap your hands as loud as possible while simultaneously saying “NO!” Run over and PICK the pup up – do not drag them by the collar or scruff. Carry the pup to the door and place them outside in the appropriate spot. As with our crate training example, the loud clap and NO! is meant to startle the pup. The startle response will be associated with the squatting creating inhibition.
Specific Potty Spots
If you would like to teach the pup to go in a specific spot in the yard you have a few options.
First, you can leash walk the dog out to the area and walk the pup around until they potty where you want them to. Be sure to heap on some lavish praise for the act to reinforce them to repeat the behavior.
Secondly, you can put up an x pen (I have seen temporary ones made of chicken wire). Every time you take the pup out, place them in the pen area. Eventually, you will be able to remove the pen once the potty area has been established.
Finally, you can use a tie out line. The line will have an anchor you can secure in the ground with a cable leash of maybe 8′ or 10.’ You will need to take the pup out to the tie out line each time they need to potty.
Some Thoughts on Potty Training
It is very common for people to take the pup out on a leash to do their business. It is easy to take the dog for a walk and have them potty on the walk, you get 2 birds with the proverbial stone. If you do this from a young age your dog may only know how to potty on a leash while on a walk. This is OK in the summer, but if you live in an area where winter arrives then it isn’t always so appealing.
Also, you may be running late for work and you need the pup to potty so you can leave or maybe there is a blizzard outside. It is much easier to let the dog out in the backyard to go potty on their own. I suggest you give your pup opportunities to potty both on and off leash.
One final suggestion for those of you who live in areas that get snow. Snow can complicate the potty training process. If your pup is close to being reliably potty trained in the fall before snow or if your pup is potty trained in the winter but you are heading towards spring there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Dogs develop tactual preferences on which to potty. That may be grass, leaves or mulch in the summer or snow in the winter. For the dogs who have never seen snow before, one day they may wake up and a fresh blanket of snow changed everything. They no longer have the grass, mulch or leaves to potty on. Often, they walk out and if they do decide to go, they will potty directly in front of the door. If you are lazy and let them, they will continue to do so once the snow has melted. They may refuse to go outside and start to have accidents indoors.
The same can be true after several months of snow and then spring green up arrives. Knowing this information can help you avoid this.
First, if there is snow be sure to shovel a path out to the area the pup is used to relieving themselves in. You will want to shovel a fairly decent sized area so the snow doesn’t touch their butt during their potty dance. This may distract your pup and they just hold it until they can get inside and into an unfettered area.
Secondly, if they revert back to going potty in the house you will need a plan to stop this. The best method I have found is to take the dog out to the shoveled out potty spot. Give the dog a few minutes to go potty. It is helpful to encourage them with an excited “GO POTTY!”
If they do not go potty within a few short minutes, immediately take them inside and put them in the crate. Wait 15-20 mins and repeat the process. Do this as many times as it take until the pup goes potty outdoors. They will then be rewarded with their freedom inside!