Toilet Training Dogs
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This lesson is all about toilet training dogs. Many people have experienced finding their dog’s stinky mess on the floors, and the absolute horror if it was on carpet. It’s not an interesting topic – all that dog pee and poo. But it’s reality, and it has to be dealt with.
This method of toilet training will work for dogs of all ages. Whether it’s a 10yr old German Shepherd Dog that has started messing in the house all of a sudden or a new puppy that you’re training for the first time.
If you want your dog toileting in the right place every time then just stick with this process and we will get there in the end.
The 3 Important Stages of Successful Toilet Training
Stage 1: Timing.
Everything to do with getting your dog in the right place (probably outside on the grass) when they need to go. That’s your responsibility. You have to figure out when you think your dog or puppy is going to need to go, and then let them out at that time. The biggest mistake is probably that people rely on dogs who are not toilet trained to figure it out for themselves.
There is no point in putting the blame on your dog. The thing is that you can really only control and change what you’re doing. So this is why making an educated guess at when your dog is going to need to go is one of the most important things.
The frequency of toileting can really vary. Some puppies could go four times in an hour. They come out of their little sleepy zone, they stand up, and immediately go tinkle. Fifteen minutes later they are tinkling again. So puppy owners will really have to be attentive. For older dogs, they might only go maybe every 3 hours.
Sometimes there’s not a lot of communication signals between your puppy to you that they need to go. They are not going to tap on the window and tell you. They might do some sniffing on ground, they might do some circling, but it may not be much more than that.
Start making notes either mentally or written down and create a log of how often your dog goes. You’ll be amazed if you start jotting down things like:
3:05pm Dog went for wee on the grass. 🙂
3:30pm Dog just peed on the floor. 🙁
You’ll think to yourself “that was only 25 minutes!” and you’ll realize that your dog goes far more often, far more regularly than you first thought.
Start setting an alarm to ring every 20 minutes (or whatever time interval you’ve determined from your notes) when your dog is up. If you hear your alarm ringing it will suddenly jolt you into action. There will be absolutely no doubt in your mind how long it’s been since your puppy last went to the toilet and you start generating this routine. It breaks the old habits up, and that’s what so much of this toilet training is all about. It’s about breaking the old habit, and establishing this new habit of getting them toileting in the right place.
Stage 2: Controlling Their Environment
This effectively means that you decide where they are at all times. What area of the house they are in.
So let’s go back and follow on from stage one. Imagine that you’ve taken your puppy outside when you think they need to go toilet. Now, your puppy is either going to have toileted or not toileted when outside.
If they did go toilet outside, they did their pee or poo, then absolutely great! Reward them with a little treat and then you can bring them back inside. This will buy you perhaps 15 minutes to an hour and so you can relax for a period of time.
However, if they didn’t go to the toilet when you expected them to then you have 2 options. Either you leave them outside for a while in the hope that they’ll go. Or, you can bring them back inside – however this is where it can often go wrong and you have to very carefully manage them.
If you bring them back inside don’t give them too much space. For example, if you give your puppy the whole of the downstairs area they can head off into another room. To them it’s like a completely different world a million miles away from the area that they live in. So they’ll think nothing of toileting in this area, and if they do it behind a couch or under a bed or something it could be a long time before you even find it. You won’t know they’ve done it. Not only is it in the wrong spot, but if you don’t know where they’ve toileted then they could do it regularly. Of course you’ll be thinking they don’t go to the toilet very often, when in fact they actually are. So keep them contained in a smaller area.
Consider the use of a crate or similar device to keep your dog fairly still. The crate is not meant to be much bigger than the dog. Basically, the dog should be able to turn around but they should not be able to run around. What this does is stop them from moving around and agitating their bowels (which makes them go to the toilet). If they are sleeping, if they are laying down, they are far less likely to need to go to the toilet. So you can leave them there for a period of time. Then take them out and see if you can get them to go toilet outside.
If you don’t have a crate it’s not a problem. But consider using maybe a penned area, or even a baby gate just to keep them in a smaller area. You also really want to consider keeping them off the carpeted areas. It’s one thing to clean up dog pee and poo from a tiled, lino, or wooden floor and a completely different thing to clean it from a thick carpet.
Should you purchase a crate? Well, the cons or downsides of a dog crate is that they do cost a little bit of money, and they can take up a fair bit of room. Especially if you have a really large dog. Eventually you might find that your dog doesn’t need the crate, so you’ve got this big crate just sitting there until you sell it. Some people find that their dogs don’t like being in the crate. They don’t like being confined so they bark and become a bit stressed and they don’t get much use out of the crate.
However, now let’s talk about the pros or upsides of a dog crate. A lot of dogs absolutely love their crates. They see it very much as their den. They settle in it, and they enjoy it. And of course it can be a real life saver for some people who just need a break from their dog. Even with a rather hyperactive dog you may notice that when the dog is in the crate they settle down and they are very happy there at night. Dog crates can really help you with things like toilet training, and those times when you just need that timeout, that space. Perhaps you’ve got a visitor coming around and you just want to put your dog away where they are happy and relaxed.
Stage 3: Reward Your Dog Effectively
Effectively rewarding your dog when they toilet in the right place is the most important key to successful toilet training. Rewarding them in such a way that it is truly motivating them to go back there and get that reward again.
The previous 2 stages are concerned about stopping your dog from going in the wrong place. This stage is about communicating to your dog that “Yes, here is the bulls-eye. Here is where I want you to go when you need to toilet.” That positive affirmation showing them where to go, is actually far more powerful than saying “No, not here. I don’t want you to go there.” and trying to keep them in a penned area. You’ve got to do all that stuff, but this stage is where you actually tell your dog “this is the spot I want you to go”.
A mistake that many people make is that they don’t reward their dog effectively. Some people interpret “reward” to mean a simple “Good boy/girl” and pats and cuddles. That is not the kind of reward I am talking about. So what is an effective reward? Well, you need to reward your dog with amazing food . I don’t even mean the usual dry boring biscuits that they probably have with their breakfast or dinner. An effective reward is really motivating stuff. I’m talking about chicken, cheese, and bacon. Puppies might do some small things for some boring biscuits. But they will go overboard – they will do amazing things for some chicken, cheese and bacon. They will really figure out what it is you want them to do to get those treats. It’s like money to a dog, what someone would do for $1 is nothing compared to what they’ll do for $100,000.
So have those treats ready in a little container so that you can reward them within seconds. Think of it like this. Your puppy or your dog goes toilet in the right place and they get this absolutely amazing treat. It’s not going to take them long to go “You know what? When I pee on the grass…they give me chicken! Next time, I’m going to pee there again! Every. Single. Time.”
So that’s the 3 Key Areas to successful dog toilet training. First of all Timing. Ensure that you’re taking your dog out to the area you want them to go before they go to the toilet. Secondly, Controlling Their Environment. Consider reducing the area that they’re allowed in. Restricting them away from carpeted areas, because that becomes a nightmare to clean. Thirdly – Using Amazing Rewards to help your dog understand exactly where you want them to go is very powerful.
Once your dog is toileting in the right place, keep at it – don’t stop. You’ve really got to keep this up for a long time before you can start relaxing and expect your dog or puppy to take themselves out.
Final Thoughts and Tips
For a ton more amazing information about toilet training, and loads of other dog behavioral topics visit Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Training Site. If you’re wanting more help on toilet training it’s all available there in much greater detail. For example, it answers questions like:
- “What about toileting at night?”
- “What about older trained dogs that have just started toileting inside the house?”
- “What about dogs deliberately marking furniture, and peeing on beds?”
Not only does Doggy Dan cover toilet training. He also has audio and videos that cover every other behavioral problem in puppies and dogs that you may be experiencing. Puppy issues like mouthing, jumping, and biting. Dog issues like pulling on the leash, separation anxiety, jumping up, aggression, not coming when called, it’s all in there. You will learn about dog psychology and breaking bad habits. It really is a fantastic site that you will absolutely love.