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Toilet Training for Puppies

Troublesome toileting....

Fear and Force Free Training

The Grange Retreat subscribes to fear and force free training methods. This means that we do not subscribe to punishing pets for behaviours we dislike, instead we believe in rewarding our pets for good behaviours to re-enforce them.

What shouldn't I do when my dog toilets in the house?

Okay let's lay out some common responses and why they are not appropriate or effective.

  • Shout at my dog?  The problem with this is despite humans thinking that shouting is a negative response, for dog's this response can be seen as barking, they may even bark with you.  For dogs any kind of response is attention and if they are getting your attention, which of course they want, this may re-enforce this negative behaviour.
  • Rub my dog's nose in their mistake?  Definitely not, for one this is cruel, just think about if this was how your parents taught you to use the toilet, did someone say childline?  What you are trying to achieve with this action is telling them that the rug is not an appropriate place to toilet, what you are actually telling your dog is that you do not like them toileting, full stop.  This will actually drive your problem underground, your dog thinks 'okay if they see me toileting I will get punished, so I will do it under this bed, or sofa instead.'  You may even find after using this method that your dog is even scared to go outside and toilet in your presence.  This method of punishment is not only cruel but completely ineffective.

What should I do when my dog toilets in the house?

If you are able to catch your dog in the act or about to toilet, distract your dog with something positive such as 'come' and try to interrupt their process and instead take them to the required toileting spot. Your puppy will make mistakes, this is all part of their learning process, you have to accept this and continue the praise when they do things correctly. Remember never to punish your puppy.

When you clean up the area ensure that the product you use is safe for your pets. There are products on the market called odour eliminators which you can dilute with water to ensure that the smell is completely removed. This will prevent your dog from claiming a 'toilet spot' in the house because they can smell that they have used it before.

What should I do when my dog toilets in correct place?

Okay, now we've got past the faux pas let's look at the available options for training.

  • Recall word - We should use a consistent word when a dog does the same thing well, for instance 'toilet'.  It is common for people to say 'good boy/girl' or 'good (insert dog's name)' the problem is with this that there is no specific word linked to the behaviour.  Instead we should say 'good toilet' when your dog toilets where you would like them to.  We should then reward this with a treat.  Always ensure that you have treats to hand, if you reward your pet too long after the action they will forget what the treat is associated with.
  • Clicker training - When your pet toilets in the allocated place you can click to mark a desired behaviour and then treat.  This is a great and gentle training method. Remember to click while the desired behaviour is in process to ensure that your pet makes the association.
Remember when training we want to re-enforce good behaviours with something that your pet wants. If your pet isn't interested in treats you can pet your dog or even give them their favourite toy. The aim of the game is to reward them with something they love when they exhibit good behaviours so that they are likely to perform them again.

How do I get my Puppy to toilet in the correct place to start with?

Here is a 'To Do' list to start your puppy toilet training:

  • Ensure that you take your puppy to the required toilet place regularly, if you do this every half an hour to an hour they are likely to need to toilet and will be inclined to go outside.  When they are getting the hang of where you expect them to toilet and as they age and can hold their bladders for longer you can gradually increase the amount of time between toilet trips.
  • You need to recognise the signs that your puppy wants to go to the toilet, if you see certain behaviours you should take your puppy outside so that they toilet in the correct place.  Behaviours to look for are: sniffing the ground in a searching manner, pacing or circling, whining, going to the place where they usually toilet such as the door to the garden.  
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