What is Potty Training?
How they go…
It is teaching dogs that your entire house is their den! Dogs in general are considered very clean animals, and do not want to soil in or around their den. Most potty problem arises when the dog does not consider your entire home their den. In the wild dogs have no concept of holding it! It’s like the old joke what does a bear do in the woods 🙂 The same thing as a dog does…they get up leave the den and poop or pee outside in the woods. The critical thing to remember here is they actually get up and leave their den to do the deed…
So for me, the first thing to teach a dog when potty training is how to hold their bladder and bowels, the easiest way to achieve this is to crate train. We know that dogs are clean animals and they do not want to be around their poop and or pee. By crate training we will use their clean nature to get them to hold it until they are let out and shown them where the bathroom is…
Let me be clear here; if you are dealing with a puppy and stick them in a crate, they will hold it only as long as they physically can. So don’t just throw your dog in a crate and consider your job done. A good rule of thumb is one hour for every month they are old plus one hour. So an eight week old puppy should be able to hold it for approximately three hours (2 months = 2 hours plus1 additional). If you leave your puppy in the crate any longer than that, then expect them to have accidents and possibility of teaching the dog it is OK to “go” in the crate. Now that we have a basic timeline, we have to take the dog out every two to three hours, to prevent accidents and to begin teaching good potty habits.
Where to go:
I look at potty training a little different from others by considering only one spot as the correct area to go to the bathroom and all others as new opportunities for dogs getting confused about where the actual bathroom is! Think of it this way if your dog has had 12 accidents since you brought them home, your dog now thinks there are 13 correct places in which to go to the bathroom. The 12 wrong places you have allowed him make mistakes in and the one spot you are so desperately trying to teach him to use… Hopefully this statement alone solves the riddle of why this potty training can be so difficult.
So what do you do now?
The key is to use their clean nature as a spring board along with crate training to eliminate mistakes and give the dog’s only one place to go. With people you have all heard the old saying that 21 times makes a habit… well the same is true for dogs but I think the number is closer to 30 to 40 times make a habit. So if you just commit to becoming fanatical for just one month, you will have a dog that is done with potty training. You will be the one to make sure you take them out regularly and to only the one appropriate potty spot. You will be the one who eliminates the dog’s option of making a mistake. The dog learns through their own action that there is only one place where he can do his business!
A final thought:
Keep in mind, just as we don’t give kids 100% freedom right off the bat, neither do we with dogs. We start first by teaching don’t soil your crate. We then teach don’t soil in the crate or the kitchen. Eventually we add the living room and so on till the dog understands the entire house is their den.
As a side note, dogs are also very polite animals, in their mind “it would be quite rude” to just take a dump at your feet or right in front of you… So don’t think for a moment that if they slink off the back bedroom or dining room to do their business that they know what they are doing is wrong. The fact of the matter is, YOU waited too long to take them out or missed their signal telling you they had to go. So they just went as far away from their “Den” as they could and did what they had to do!
In the end the only thing that potty trains a dog is patience and consistency but look at it this way investing 30 days to this process will be a way better option than living with a dog for 15 years that never learned where the bathroom is!
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