Thursday, January 24

Tamara's Training Tips: Potty Training

Being a trainer, I get many inquiries about a lot of basic training needs.  To better serve you, my readers, I have decided to start sharing some tips for these basic needs.  So, Tamara's Training Tips will be a reoccurring blog topic which means I need you to send in all of your questions about basic training or specific questions about your dog's training needs.

Today I am starting with the most common problem I am asked about... Potty Training.

Potty training your pup can be the most difficult training you do.  The secret to success is consistency and routine!

The first thing you want to do when you bring your pup or dog home is set a routine where they will succeed.  As soon as your puppy or dog wakes up, get them outside to do their business so there is no time for them to look around and find a place in your home.  It helps to crate your dog or pup at night to ensure they stay in one place.

Any time your pup or dog goes in the place you want them to, praise and treat heavily!  Remember, what they are rewarded for heavily, they will try to repeat to get the rewards.

After they have had their first potty of the day, you should now stick to a schedule until bedtime.  For puppies you should be taking them outside for the first couple of weeks that you have them every hour to hour and a half.  For adult dogs you can start usually at every 2-3 hours.  Once they are successful on that schedule you can slowly start to extend the times in between when you take them out.  Remember, do this slow, start to move the time back by about 5 minutes, no more than that especially for puppies.

The exceptions to the rule above is, right after feeding your puppy, they will most likely need to go out again within 15-20 minutes.  Be sure to build this into the routine.  As well, right after naps or play sessions where they have consumed a lot of water.  Be sure to really watch your puppy, they will start to tell you when they have to go, usually by looking for a good spot.

It helps to keep a "potty journal" so you can log the times you go out and what they did.  You will start to see a pattern to clue you into their natural schedule.

Many people want to train on a pad, if you can avoid this, please do.  You are teaching your pup or dog it is okay to go inside the house and this is often a difficult habit to break.  However, if you have no choice, make sure you confine your dog or pup to a specific area covered in pads so no matter where they go, they succeed.  Treat, treat, treat (and praise) for all successes on the pad.  You will slowly take away pads until they have just one pad to target.  This can take weeks or even months in the case of young pups.  Once they are targeting one pad, your next step is to get them to learn to hold it to go outside, please see all steps above.

Many accidents occur overnight, the trick with over night is to take water away from your pup about 3 hours before bedtime, then right before bed you should potty your dog one last time.  You should get a good 6-8 hours out of your pup.  Adult dogs usually do not have a problem with this, you should be able to simply potty them one last time without taking water away, however, some senior dogs do have problems holding it through the night, if that is your situation, follow the puppy guidelines.

Lastly, what do you do if your pup or dog does have an accident?  DO NOT punish them!!!  If you walk into the room and see your pup or dog pottying, clap your hands or say "no" or a no marker loud enough that it gets your pup or dog's attention.  You do not want to scare your pup too badly, just get their attention to make them stop.  Many times if you scare them too badly, they develop a fear of going in front of you.  Then go and pick them up  (or for a large dog, get them moving right away outside) go outside and spend a little time out there to get them to go in the appropriate place and be sure to treat them after.

If you walk into a room and find what they did, simply ignore them, do not shout at them, rub their nose in it, spank them or scold them.  Ignore means no looking at, talking to or touching.  So you ignore your dog or pup while you clean up and make sure to use a neutralizer to prevent them from going there in the future.

I cannot stress enough, it is extremely important that you praise and treat heavily when they go where you want them to go.

Consistency, routine and a lot of patience will get you far.

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