There is only one acceptable methodology for potty training a dog of any age: positive reinforcement. Traditional advice suggested swatting a dog or rubbing his face in his waste for mistakes in the house, but those techniques do nothing to make the potty training process more understandable for your dog and can actually damage your relationship with him. Keep in mind, dogs don’t view their waste the way we do – to them, pee and poo is pretty interesting! Punishing your dog for going in the house won’t help him understand what he should do instead and might make him afraid to go near you at all, inside or out. Successful potty training requires patience, kindness and remembering that your new puppy is just learning the rules.
You should always accompany your puppy outside for potty breaks. You’re there not only to ensure that he actually goes, you’re also there to reward your puppy with a treat for going in the proper spot. Wait until your puppy finishes eliminating and immediately give him a tasty reward for a job well done. If you wait until you get back in the house, your puppy won’t make the connection between his elimination and the reward.
Be persistent! Make sure the puppy doesn't get the opportunity to pee and poop by using a leash indoors or confining him to a crate when you're out. Depending on the puppies age, pop him outside every 20 - 30 minutes, so there's a greater chance of him toileting outside (by accident at first.) In addition, get rid of any scent markers he's left by peeing or pooping indoors, as these will draw him back to the same spot. This means cleaning the area daily, for 2- 3 weeks after he last pooped there to fully get rid of any lingering odor that the dog can detect.
You may also notice common behavior problems in your dog such as jumping up, barking, or even aggression. The best way to correct any misbehavior is to interrupt it. Shift your dog's attention to something positive. Try running through cues that your dog has mastered followed by rewards. Keep your demeanor cool and confident, and be clear about what you mean.
You can use potty training pads to give a puppy a place to go inside. They are usually scented in order attract dogs to urinate on them. This can be an aid in potty training and may seem necessary depending on your situation. But, it can also cause some problems that may prolong the training period and make it more difficult. Using pads can confuse a puppy into thinking that it is OK to go inside.
There also behavioral issues that can interfere with successful training. Urine marking is a normal dog behavior in which the animal will hike their leg and mark a certain area or object. With separation anxiety, the puppy may have accidents inside when you leave them at home alone. Some puppies become nervous or upset when their owners are away. Other puppies have a submissive or excitement urination problem. This causes them to spontaneously urinate during certain activities. Discuss these possibilities with your veterinarian or trainer if you're not getting positive results.
Positive reinforcement is the key to success. A common mistake is to punish your dog during training or become angry. This will only cause confusion. You can try to hold your dog's attention with treats and enthusiasm, but know that it is time to end a session when your dog becomes bored or tired. Try to end sessions on a positive note. Eventually, successful training will be achieved with patience and consistency.
This article was co-authored by David Levin. David Levin is the Owner of Citizen Hound, a professional dog walking business based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 9 years of professional dog walking and training experience, David's business has been voted the "Best Dog Walker SF" by Beast of the Bay for 2019, 2018, and 2017. Citizen Hound has also been ranked #1 Dog Walker by the SF Examiner and A-List in 2017, 2016, 2015. Citizen Hound prides themselves on their customer service, care, skill, and reputation.
The process is the exactly same for older dogs as it is for puppies; prevent accidents from happening by using baby gates and a crate if possible, create a predictable schedule, learn to recognize your dog’s potty signals, accompany your dog outside and immediately reward for all outdoor elimination, properly clean any accidents and supervise your dog until you’re sure that he understands the rules.