Toilet Training toddlers can be stressful. Some childcare centers won’t accept children unless they are using the toilet.
Shopping of any kind can become a nightmare as your three year old announces she has to go to the bathroom, which sends you into a frenzy looking for the nearest facility. Then there’s the endless laundry, accidents resulting in wet pants, accidents resulting in the bathroom needing to be cleaned or worse, the living room.
Ultimately human beings want to use the toilet. We want to conform to the societal norms. We want to do what others are doing, so children learn to use the toilet.
Dogs are different. They don’t particularly care where they eliminate nor are they worried about what other dogs are doing.
Grass, the hardwood floor, tile, the car, the couch, your oriental rug even their dog beds are all suitable places for elimination. It’s up to you to teach them that the bathroom is outside. Puppies will not magically become house trained unless you are consistent and proactive one hundred percent of the time. Only when your puppy or dog has been clean in the house for a month and is consistently asking to go outside is your dog house-trained.
House training is really not that difficult. All dogs regardless of their age are hard-wired to NOT eliminate where they have to eat or sleep. Think about it, so are we. If you’ve ever camped you know that the bath room is within walking distance, but it’s not too close to the camping area. Restaurants place the bathrooms away from the kitchen and dining area. Our homes have conveniently located bathrooms, but they aren’t directly off the kitchen or living spaces. Dogs also like to have a clean living space. You can capitalize on that.
Here Are the Basic Rules:
- Limit the dogs/puppy’s space
- Limit the dogs/puppy’s space (it’s not a mistake that I wrote it twice)
- Observe your dog/puppy for agitation indicating the need to eliminate
- Never let your dog/puppy out of your eyesight
How do you accomplish this? By crate training, using a house leash or by using an exercise pen.
Anytime you need to leave your un-house-trained dog alone, she needs to be crated. Going to take a shower, crate her, doing yard work-take her outside with you or crate her, need to use the bathroom – bring her with you or crate her.
When you are working on your computer, the dog/puppy needs to be on her leash, attached to you or to a stable piece of furniture. Cooking dinner? Attach her to you or to your kitchen table. Going to read the kids a bedtime story, take the puppy with you or crate her.
By allowing her to only have four or six feet of space at any given time you are creating an environment where she won’t want to eliminate, you are taping into her natural instinct to keep her living space clean.
It’s your job and responsibility to observe your dog’s/puppy’s behavior for the telltale signs that she needs to eliminate.
She may bark, whine or jump on you. Some dogs begin pacing back and forth, others may pull towards the door. Many times people assume the dog is just being a pest and they are. They are trying to get your attention so you can take them outside to eliminate.
Recently in puppy kindergarten I had a conversation with a woman and her husband regarding their puppy’s inability to become house trained. She said to me in all seriousness, “I don’t understand why she is being so stubborn about learning to go outside. She has learned everything else so fast.” I asked her if Ruby had been on a leash. She said “yes,” then why, I asked, was she able to sneak away to eliminate in the guest bedroom? She replied that she had been preparing dinner. I gently reminded her that she needed to hold the leash, step on it or tie her to a stable piece of furniture. This woman had also talked with the breeder who told her to spank her puppy if she caught her eliminating in the house, which she had done.
Hitting your dog is meant to punish the dog for a naughty behavior, but from your puppy’s perspective, eliminating isn’t a naughty behavior.
She had to go. Dogs are not moral beings. Hitting your dog for eliminating in the house only teaches her that it isn’t safe to eliminate in your presence and she will sneak away to eliminate where you can’t see her. As frustrated as you may feel, please don’t hit or otherwise punish or scare your dog/puppy. If you “catch” her eliminating in the house, interrupt her with your voice and then quickly take her outside to finish eliminating. Then go hit your heard against the wall, because all house training accidents are your errors.
We, humans, are not great at observing behavior. We are so engrossed in the television or our smart phones that we simply do not pay enough attention and we miss the dog’s signal. Don’t blame the dog.
If your dog eliminates in the house, ask yourself, “what did my dog/puppy do just before she eliminated?” Most people will be able to identify something such as, she jumped on me, she barked or she pulled towards the door. The next time your dog repeats that behavior, take her outside. When in doubt, take her out. By following these simple steps you and your dog will enjoy a lifetime together and feel confident that you can take her anywhere because she is house trained.
Certified Professional Dog Trainer Denise Mazzola is the owner of Denise Mazzola’s Everything Dog. She has been working with people and training dogs for over 25 years. Everything Dog provides services to clients throughout the Monadnock Region of NH by offering private lessons, group classes, board and train, as well as day training services. Everything Dog offers a 6 day Canine Behavior & Training Academy. Denise and Amy are the East Coast instructors for dog*tec’s Dog Walking Academy. She is also a mentor for Animal Behavior College students and CATCH students. Denise has been published in the trade journal, Chronicle of the Dog, and writes a monthly column for the Monadnock Ledger Transcript. She also hosts a monthly “Ask the Trainer” radio show on WKBK. Denise lives in Keene with her life and business partner, Amy Willey CPDT-KA, and they share their home with two dogs and three grown daughters. For more information, visit www.everythingdognh.com.