Ah, potty training! It’s a pastime that has been known to drive many a calm, collected toddler’s parent to the brink of their sanity, and the process can be no less frustrating sometimes with dogs. Puppies are delightfully cute and funny, but when they pee on your carpet yet again, their stock can plummet. Follow these tips to keep Fido on track for training and save your floors from heavy cleaning.
1. It’s all about positive enforcement.
Dogs want to please, but they often have a hard time understanding what we want from them. When you take your pet outside and they potty, immediately give them a treat and lots of affection and praise. When your pet has an accident, it’s ideal to catch them in the act, scoop them up with a firm but calm “No, Buster” and carry them outside without delay so they can finish business there. Don’t yell at the dog, and never, ever hit. A firm, disappointed “no” is all you need. Praising and giving small treats for good behavior sinks in much better with dogs than punishing. After all, wouldn’t you rather be rewarded when you do well than constantly yelled at?
2. Consider the space.
Sometimes dogs have a hard time understanding where they’re allowed to potty. If your pup keeps sneaking off to a corner or room you rarely visit, it’s probably because they’re trying to do the right thing by not relieving themselves in what they see as “the living area.” Small dogs in large spaces have an especially hard time distinguishing living space from potty areas.
3. Always use the same authoritative command in a “parent” voice.
When you take your pet out try not to cheerlead—save praising tones for immediately after they succeed. Be a leader and give the potty command to your pet in a clear, calm, parental tone. Try using “go potty,” “do your business,” or “get busy,” but whatever one you choose, stick to it again and again. Your tone will tell the pet that it’s time to work, and over time they will recognize the link between your command and their action. With practice, your dog will get better at going on command.
4. Have the pup potty in the same area every time.
If you lead your pet to the same place every time you want them to potty and communicate what you want with the same command (“Go potty!”), your pet will eventually start to get the picture. Dogs are sensitive to smells, and when they smell waste in an area they will want to put their own waste nearby again and again. This is part of why they always go in the same places in your home—they can smell their last accident and they do it again. Going in the same place also reinforces that when you take them to this spot, it’s time to potty.
5. Clean up accidents ASAP.
Dogs have incredible sense of smell, and they like to relieve themselves where they smell other potty. If you leave stains to dry on carpet or floors, your dog will keep going there again and again. Clean accidents as quickly as possible with a special pet cleaner that will both disinfect and neutralize odors. You can find pet cleaner at any pet supply store or big box store. My personal favorite is from Anti-Icky-Poo. Steaming your carpets professionally or with a personal use home cleaner every six months will also keep your floors fresh.
Potty training takes time, awareness, and patience, but with the right attitude and positive reinforcement, your dog will get the picture. Potty training is an opportunity to grow closer with your pet and help them see you as the leader. If you need a little humor along the way, check out one of our favorite funny dog sites, which has a host of photos from pet parents going through the potty training process. If you need more specific recommendations, visit us at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals. We’re a Frisco vet with top-notch vet services for everything from dog vaccinations to dog spaying and neutering and, yes, even advice for potty training.