How to potty train a puppy fast?
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Chapter 1 – Introduction
“Potty training becomes easy, if we plan in advance and have a strategy in place. No, please punishment is not the answer. Will you punish your one month old baby for wetting the bed?” – Jonathan Trainor
This book has been written ground up; so that even if you’re a first time dog owner, you will find everything you need to know about potty and house training your puppy. Not just that, even experienced dog owners will find it highly useful, because I have covered various tips and techniques, which most dog owners ignore resulting in a disaster.
You don’t want that, right.
You want a good and a smart dog. But trust me; a lot depends on how you care for them and how you teach them things. So, it is not your dog, it is you who need to learn and become aware of his real needs.
If you do that well, you will have a lovely dog because they are awesome animals. And, that’s the whole purpose of this book.
First things first, please read this book in the sequence it has been written. There is a good reason for it. Please do not skip. So, that you can absorb all the right knowledge and have necessary tools at your disposal to effectively potty and house train your puppy. We will build the foundations in the first few chapters such as preparation, planning, dog psychology etc. and then we will cover potty and house training.
I have tried to be as brief and concise as possible, without compromising quality and purpose. It is not a huge book. So, you should fly through pretty quickly, and off course you can refer to it from time to time.
Welcome and let’s dive in!
An advice that I find very useful for all new puppy owners is to “think of the new puppy as a baby”, and everything will fall into place automatically. By using this strategy the various training problems will become easier to understand. Potty training, leaving the pet home alone for long hours or even separation anxiety, will become easier to handle if we follow this approach.
Do not think of the four-legged animal as someone that needs to be trained into obedience.
Rather look at him as a new born baby for whom everything is new and who is dependent upon you for his almost every need. If you will not guide him who will?
Become a pet parent rather than remaining an owner or a master. This will make the training process more relaxed and enjoyable for you and your pet. It will also help you to start a lifelong journey of friendship, trust and loyalty with your new puppy.
An addition to the family
When you decide to bring home a new pup and make him a part of your family and home, you are filled with excitement and maybe a little apprehension too. You are joyous about the prospects of spending many fun filled evenings with him.
Yet, at the same time you worry a little about the various changes you will have to make in your home and your life for the new pet.
Change is something that you will have to take for granted. Whether it is physical, social or emotional, a pet does bring changes to the various aspects of our life. And let me assure you, that all the changes are positive, and will only add value to your life. Pets add a new dimension to our lives, a dimension which we were unaware of till now. But, if you already own a pet or if you had a furry friend before, you know the great feeling and love. Don’t you?
Once you get a pet home you will find yourself becoming physically more active even if you want or not. Take for instance, you find that your pup is just about to pee on your pretty rug. What will be your first reaction? You run, grab your pup, and put him outside in the yard or wherever he is supposed to pee, as fast as you can. See, what I mean? A nice healthy run in the morning or any hour of the day will keep you physically active and fit!
Well, jokes apart but having a pet dog will certainly help you physically. You will take your pet dog for walks in the park and spend some playful minutes or hours with him daily.
You will even find your circle of friends or acquaintances increasing. Other pet parents or casual passers-by will like to stop and chat about your pet or will just like to stop and pat him.
Having a pet can help you emotionally too. Pets are known to calm anxious people. In fact a study about the effect of animal assisted therapy on patient’s anxiety and fears was conducted in 2003. The study was published by S.B Barker of Virginia Commonwealth University (Department of Psychiatry). It was found that the effect of this therapy was significant on patients. Such type of therapy might be useful in future medical and psychiatric therapy.
On a more personal note, an important change that I observed when I had a pet was that having him made me more tolerant. While training him, I learned that becoming angry will not help and can even make matters worse.
The funny part was that, at times my pet would think that we are having a ‘shouting match kind of’ and he would also lend his voice (or bark) to the mayhem! And as you may imagine nothing much was achieved.
Off course with experience, I found out that I can achieve much more with a calm and steady voice, than becoming frenzied and shouting at him. This made me realize, what I should avoid doing whenever I am training him to do something new. And that is to never get angry.
There are a few more things that you should avoid as a pet parent while you are dealing with your new pet.
4 Things you must not do
- Do not reprimand the pet if you catch him in the act. Pointing at the mess, or shouting at the pet and telling him that what he did was wrong will not help with your potty training. In fact, at times it might even do the opposite. Your pet will think that you are unhappy about his peeing at that particular place so he will change the place next time. He will also try and find places where you will find it difficult to locate the mess, like under the bed, or behind the door and other such peculiar places. He will also try and do it in your absence, or when you are not looking. Hang on tight; we will talk what you can do instead. That’s the whole purpose of this book.
- Do not forget to clean the mess. Whenever you find any poo or pee inside the house make sure to clean the mess really well. Make sure to not leave any smells of urine otherwise your pup will mark it as his place to go. Use a good disinfectant to wipe out the smell, but avoid ammonia based products as they generally smell like pee and attract pets.
- Do not scare your pup with very sudden movements. As mentioned before, when we find our furry friend is about to pee, we rush and try to take the pup out in the garden or yard which is more suitable for the purpose. Though, doing this might help the pup know the right place to pee, your sudden movements might scare him. Even if you do want to carry him and take him out so that he can finish his business outside, make sure to do this gently without scaring your pet. If your pup gets scared then he will again try and avoid peeing in front of you.
- Do not give the pup a free run of the house. It is true that when your pet will arrive, he will want to explore every corner of your house. Though it is fun to watch your little furry friend discovering new things, it is best to keep his movements limited. This will need to be done for at least first few weeks, or till the time he becomes fully potty trained. By giving him access to a limited area you also limit the area in which he can make a mess. This certainly helps in cleaning up. This also makes sure that he does not find a permanent spot to relieve himself, a place which is not easily visible to you like the attic room. And this is also why it is important to dog proof your home before your pet arrives. I will next discuss in brief about dog proofing your home and also about other preparations necessary before you even bring a pup home.
Knowing all the things you can to avoid, while potty training your pet is extremely important. So, you do not start on a wrong foot. Do you agree? I bet you do. This will also help us avoid retraining our pet and save some precious time.
Dog Proofing Before Arrival
Dog proofing includes barricading certain areas in the house which you do not want your pup to go to, like the kitchen as an example. It will also include keeping certain seemingly harmless things out of reach of your pup’s inquisitive nose and mouth. Things like cleaning products, medicines and so on. Obviously, you do not want your puppy to harm himself, just like we would take precaution for a baby, right.
Here is a list of things that you might consider doing while dog proofing your home:
- Keep the doors of the bathrooms always latched.
- Keep cleaning products, medicines at places unreachable by your pup, like upper shelves.
- Barricade areas you do not want your pup to have access to like the stairs, kitchen or laundry area. You can use playpen and gates, which are easy to buy on Amazon.com.
- Keep trash cans closed and out of reach of your pet, preferably inside a closed cabinet.
- Secure any dangling wires of laptop or television.
- Keep children’s toys locked in a cupboard.
- Keep sharp objects like knife, scissor, and needles out of reach of your pet.
It is also better to bring your pets stuff like food and water bowls, bedding before he arrives so that he becomes familiar with them from Day 1.
Here is a list of items that you might like to buy for your pet before his arrival:
- Food and water bowl
- Leash and collar
- Bedding and blankets
- Toys like Kong toys and chew toys (especially helpful for puppies during teething stage)
- Crate (if you plan to crate train the pup, crate training is also helpful for housebreaking a pet)
- Playpen (a good option for keeping a pup productively employed in a limited space)
- Hair brushes, shampoo, nail cutter, tooth brush and paste
- Identification tag
Now that you have done all the preparations necessary before you bring home your pup, your next step will be to make a training plan for your pet. This we will discuss in the next chapter.
A quick recap of this chapter
- A pet is not only your companion, but also like your child, who needs guidance and direction from you.
- A pet will bring about various positive changes to your life.
- It is better to pet proof your home and bring in pet supplies before your pet arrives so that you can familiarize him about his stuff and his boundaries.
- Throughout the training be patient, calm and consistent.
Chapter 2 – Planning is a must
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Alan Lakein
Good planning is the key to success of any training, be it potty training, crate training or even training your pet to do new tricks. A good plan lets you visualize the various aspects of training. It helps you to know early on what all things you need for training and even gives you an inkling of potential problems.
This way you are well prepared to face any roadblocks and can maneuver your way around successfully. And the sooner you put in place your plan the better it will be for you as well as your pup. As with humans, a puppy’s young mind is also more receptive to learn new things, therefore progress is achieved much more quickly.
Below we will look at when you should start training and all those good stuff. We will gradually come up with a training plan, yes step-by-step, once we have covered the basics. So, please do not skip. Planning requires some mindset change, so read the chapters in the given sequence. You’ll soon find that they are related building blocks, which organically flows from one to the next. Let’s move on.
What is the right age to train a puppy?
Ideally, a pup should stay with his mother and littermates for up to 8 weeks of age. By being with his mother till this age, he learns various doggy behaviors. He learns to play with his siblings and also understands who is in charge. He also learns how much of his playfulness will be tolerated by his littermates. 3 weeks to 12 weeks of age is considered a socialization window for the pup. During this time he learns to differentiate between the interactions with dogs and humans.
This period is sometimes extended till 16 weeks of age. During this period a pup is receptive to socialization cues and can be easily taught with love and affection. Your praise and sometimes doggy treats are all that is needed to properly train a pup of this age.
Ensure to provide a positive learning environment to your pup during this time and refrain from punishing or scaring your dog. Negative environment during this development stage of the pup can lead to behavioral issues. They will be more difficult for you to handle later on.
By 16 weeks of age, a pup starts showing fear of new things and might also exhibit some independence and dominance. He will not like to change his set ways and will prove to be a difficult student. Hence, try and make use of the 8 weeks to 16 weeks of “golden window” to teach your pup various commands. Use this time to teach him the difference between what is acceptable and what is not and so on.
Many pet parents either start training too late (by 6 months of age) or not at all. Later on they face socialization and behavioral issues with their pup making them even surrender their pets in extreme cases.
Training and pet surrender
At this point I will like to diverge a little from potty training and concentrate on training in general. Training though an important and necessary aspect of overall development of the pet is still not recognized widely. People train their pet only as an afterthought or when they face some issue. By this time it is already too late to modify the behavior of the pet successfully.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, 6.5 million animals enter the animal shelters every year. Of these 3.3 million are dogs alone.
There are mainly two reasons for owners abandoning their pet dogs, either it is due to their own personal problems or due to pet problems.
Pet problems include behavioral issues. More than 90% of such pet dogs do not receive any kind of training while they are in the care of their pet parents. Experts believe that late training or no training makes the pet believe that he is in charge and can do whatever he wants.
This leads to various issues like biting, showing aggression and not obeying commands. This forces the owners to part ways with their good friend. This was obviously something that they never intended to do when they first brought the pet home.
Make training a part of your pet’s life
We teach our kids good manners and provide them with the right kind of education so that they develop into happy, friendly and smart kids. Similarly, some kind of training is necessary for pets too. You can decide for home based training or classroom training through some professional trainers. Just make sure you provide the following basic training to your pet during the first year of his life.
OBEDIENCE TRAINING: This will include recognizing various commands and following them. Commands like sit, stand, stay, come, go, leave it, wait and down are some basic commands that your pet should obey. He should also recognize his name and respond whenever he is called. These commands will be extremely helpful whenever you take your pet out for walks or when you let him interact with other pets or humans. This set of basic commands will also help you when you impart other kind of training like potty training or crate training.
POTTY TRAINING: Your pet dog should know the right place to relieve himself. When he wants to go he should be able to communicate it to you through some means like whining or going towards the door. Ideally, he should be able to hold it till you take him out to the proper place.
CRATE TRAINING: Your pet dog should have positive feelings towards the crate and associate it with happy thoughts. He should not be scared to go inside it. Training will ensure that your pet will enter the crate willingly and stay there till the time you come and open the crate door. This training is also useful for potty training, during travels or for visits to the vet.
LEASH TRAINING: While going for walks your pet should not strain himself on the leash. He should walk beside you at your pace.
All these training will make life much easier for you and even for your pet. Since, he will know what is expected of him in a particular situation there will be no room for confusion. This will make him a happy and stress free pet that is thoroughly enjoying his time with you.
An important aspect of training is to pace yourself according to your dog. Some days your dog might be more willing to learn, whereas other days he might not be. It will be important to plan the training according to your dog’s psychology. Hence, understanding your pet’s psychology becomes an important aspect of any training program. I will cover important aspects of dog psychology in the next chapter.
A quick recap of this chapter
- The right time to start training your pup is between 8 weeks and 16 weeks of age.
- Your pet should be trained using treats and praise.
- A few basic training that should be given are – obedience training, potty training, crate training and leash training.
Chapter 3: Understanding Dog Psychology
“Dog psychology training can help your intelligent dog to become street smart” – Jonathan Trainor
Like humans, dogs too have various stages of development. Not only will the physical aspects of the dog change, but his nature and behavior will also change. You will find your fearless little puppy suddenly becoming scared of little noises or new people and things. This is all part of his growth cycle and it helps tremendously to be aware of it before you start training your pup. By knowing what changes to expect at a certain age of your pup, you will no longer be surprised and will be better able to plan.
GROWTH PHASES OF THE PUP
0-2 Weeks Neonatal Period
- The pup is closest to his mother.
- He recognizes taste, smell and touch.
- He cannot regulate bodily functions like elimination.
2-4 Weeks Transition Period
- Begins interaction with his litter-mates.
- Is able to regulate bodily functions.
- Starts to wag his tail.
- Eyes and ears are open.
- Baby teeth start coming in.
5-7 Weeks Awareness Period
- Pup is learning that he is a dog.
- He becomes aware of human as well as canine interactions.
- All 28 baby teeth have come.
8-16 Weeks Socialization Period – Best time to train the pup
- The brain is almost developed to the level of an adult dog’s brain and is more receptive to learning new things.
- Since learning in this age is permanent it is important to provide a positive environment to the pup.
- Refrain from using punishment or force during this time.
- Try not to frighten the pup at any time.
- It is also a good time to let your pup socialize with other pet dogs.
- By the 14th week pup’s baby teeth will start falling off and new adult teeth will start coming.
4-6 Months Teething Period
- Most of the puppy teeth are gone by this time and replaced by 42 adult teeth.
- This period is painful for the pet and it will be a good idea to give him lots of chewy toys to relieve some of the pain. This will also prevent him from chewing your furniture.
6 Months – 1.5 Years Adolescence Period
- Your pup will learn about leadership and dominance. He will try to test new things and may even not listen to you at times.
- He might also show some fear in different situations. Treat your pup with gentleness, kindness and patience. This will help to build his self-confidence and self-esteem.
1-4 years Maturity Period
- An average dog will develop to full maturity by 2-3 years of age.
- There will be spurts of assertion and aggression that you will have to handle with care. Always use a soothing tone to calm your pet.
- Regular training with lots of praise will keep your pet well trained and obedient.
As you can see from above, there will be occurrences of aggression or disobedience as your pup matures into an adult dog. Just remember that it is a part of his growing up, and that he is not being intentionally disrespectful.
Handle the stage with care, love and understanding. Sometimes our wrong reaction aggravates the situation. It makes it difficult to settle things peacefully and correctly.
How to handle unacceptable behavior?
Here are few tips that will help you whenever you face a difficult situation with your pet:
DO NOT PUNISH THE DOG: Sometimes, dog’s will do something wrong out of boredom or when they are not getting enough attention from you. By scolding them or punishing them you are providing them that attention, though not in the right manner. He will simply increase his wrongdoings just to get your attention, even if it means you scolding him.
Sometimes, some of his actions might be due to some medical reasons. Like when he starts peeing in the house despite being fully potty trained. He might be suffering from urinary tract infection or have an upset stomach. Take him to a vet instead of scolding him or punishing him. And, if it is not a medical condition then restart potty training.
Do not get disheartened, because there can be any number of reasons (a baby in the house, your new job timings, place change) for your pet’s regression. Just concentrate on the matter in hand and start training again.
BE CONSISTENT: Throughout the training and even afterwards it is very important to be consistent in your actions and words. For example, when a dog jumps it is generally to show dominance. You might like his jumping when he is a pup but might not like it when he grows up to his full size. Reprimanding him for something which you allowed before will not work. It will in fact just confuse him. You will have to show your dislike and stop your pet’s unwanted behavior early on in the training.
DO NOT OVERDO PRAISE OR TREATS: Giving praise or treats is the right way to train a dog successfully. But remember to not overdo it. You will have to start weaning off the pet from treats little by little as he becomes fully trained. Otherwise, the treats or praise will stop being meaningful for the pet.
It is also helpful to know the reasons behind some of the common dog behaviors like barking, panting or chewing. It will help you to understand your dog better, and make training easier. Here is a list of some of these behaviors with their reasons explained.
Common Dog Behavior Explained
Barking: Dogs bark to communicate. They can be communicating their fear, anxiety or simply boredom.
Biting: A dog can bite due to nervousness or to show aggression.
Jumping: A dog jumps to show dominance or to redirect your attention towards him.
Panting: Dogs pant when they are feeling too hot or when they are in pain.
Digging: Dogs dig to hide or to find something.
Chewing: Dogs like to chew during teething stage to relieve the pain in their gums. Chewing can also be a sign of boredom or anxiety.
Ankle biting: Ankle biting is generally done by young puppies as they like to chase moving objects.
House soiling: The reasons for house soiling can be many. It can be due to illness, separation anxiety, newness of the place, arrival of guests/children/baby and so on.
Leash pulling: Dogs pull on leash to take control or lead. Even trained dogs sometimes pull on the leash when they find something too tempting or distracting.
Now, that you have gained an understanding of your dog’s behavior at various stages of his development, you can start training him. Like various teaching methods for humans, there are also various methods to train a dog. We will discuss various training methods in the next chapter so that you can choose the best one for your pet.
A quick recap of this chapter
- Dogs behave differently in their different growth stages.
- Despite being trained some dogs might regress back to chewing or house soiling. The reasons for regression can be many. You simply have to start training again in case something like this happens.
- Understanding common dog behaviors, like barking or panting, help in training them better. It even helps to develop a closer bond between you and your pup.
Chapter 4: Puppy Training Methods
“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Schulz
Humans have been training dogs since the time they first domesticated them. Whether using the dogs for hunting or for simple companionship, humans train them so that they both can live together easily.
We aim to curb negative behavior like growling or chewing and instill positive behavior like eliminating outside or not pulling on the leash. The methods used to achieve all this has changed over the years. From using punishment based traditional methods to the modern positive reinforcement method, the training methods have come a long way.
Now, there are many methods like, traditional method, scientific method, reward based method, clicker method, positive reinforcement method, negative reinforcement method and so on.
The proponents of the various methods are also many like Ian Dunbar, Dawn Sylvia, Cesar Millan and so on. But on close observation I found that all the methods can actually be categorized into two main categories:
- Punishment based method – Traditional method, negative reinforcement method, dominance method.
- Reward based method – Positive reinforcement method, clicker method, Scientific method.
Below, I have touched upon both these methods in little more details. Why? So that you can assess what you are doing at the moment, and if necessary re-think, re-align and re-engineer your strategies.
In other words, understand both methods and gradually move towards the reward based method, which obviously gives better results.
Punishment Based Method
This method is based on the assumption that a dog’s negative behavior can only be curbed by punishing it. Once the dog starts associating his bad behavior with negative consequences like pain he will change. Instead of promoting good behavior, the focus here is to end bad behavior.
In this method a dog is always viewed as a subordinate and not as a companion or friend. Some typical outcomes of this method are:
- Dog is not allowed to sit alongside you on the sofa or bed.
- You will lead, dog will follow.
- You are never to come at the eye level of the dog.
- Some punishment tools or techniques used for this method are:
- Shouting or scolding
- Shock collar
- Choke collar
- Tap on the nose or slapping with a newspaper roll
- Tightening the leash
Following are the results obtained by this method:
- Dog submits and obeys out of fear.
- He might become subdued over time.
- Dog might not listen to other humans other than the trainer.
- He might become aggressive towards other dogs.
- The relationship between the owner and dog might worsen over time leading to pet abandonment.
How it is used to potty train the pet?
Now let’s have a quick look on how punishment based method is used for potty training. In the punishment based method whenever a pet dog pees in the house he is scolded, shouted at or even smacked.
The problem is that the dog is unable to associate the punishment with something he did few minutes or even hours ago.
Dogs live in the moment and this reaction of their owners is confusing for them. Training like this does not give very good results, and in many cases it results in disaster. In worst case scenarios, the owner abandons the dog at the shelter thinking that he will never be able to house train his pet. It is hard to believe but that is true, and I have shown you the examples and data.
Why am I highlighting this to you?
Because there is a major drawback with the punishment based method, and I am against it. Main reason: it does not tell your dog what needs to be done. Instead, it focuses on what should not be done. It does not reward good behavior. It punishes the bad behavior. This approach is difficult for a dog to understand.
For example, if he gets scolded for peeing in the house then he will start peeing in the absence of his owner. Or he might find a place to pee which his owner cannot discover. Because he is never taught the right way, he continues to do the wrong thing in a different way.
Reward Based Method
On the other hand, this method focuses on rewarding good behavior or positive reinforcement with something meaningful. This way the dog will repeat the good behavior in anticipation of getting the reward.
By rewarding the correct behavior a dog is taught to repeat that behavior. He learns to do the right thing to get a treat or praise from his owner.
Following techniques are used in the reward based method:
- Praise, a pat on the back, a hug
- A favorite toy
The method has a better success rate than the punishment based method. Here are some of the outcomes of this method:
- Dog owner relationship is built on trust and becomes stronger over time.
- All members of the family including children can take part in this method. The dog learns to listen to even kids and the elderly members of the family.
- Dog is happier and confident.
How it is used to potty train a puppy?
Whenever the dog poops and pees at the correct place he is given a reward. To earn more rewards he repeats this behavior till the time it becomes a habit. The rewards are phased out little by little till the dog becomes fully potty trained. So, this something you might want to think about and use this strategy effectively.
The reward based approach is not only humane it also helps to raise the self-esteem and self-confidence of the dog. The chance of the dog entering a shelter because of house soiling issues lessens a great deal with this method.
Research Backs Reward Based Training
A research on the effectiveness of dog training methods was published in 2004 by Hiby, Rooney and Bradshaw (Department of Clinical Veterinary Science) of University of Bristol.
According to the study it was found that dogs trained with the reward based method complied with commands more effectively. Problems related to behavior were seen more with dogs trained with punishment based methods.
Here is a summary of the study:
- People used reward based training more for toilet training, commands training and leash training.
- Punishment based training was used more to curb habits like chewing or stealing foods/objects.
- Dogs trained with punishment based method showed highest percentage of separation anxiety.
- Dogs trained with reward based training are more obedient.
Hence, it was proved with evidence that dogs trained with reward based method have fewer behavior problems and they were more obedient.
Now, that you know which method is better to train your dog, you can start using its techniques to train your pet. Start with some general commands first, and then progress towards potty training specifically.
Now that we have laid the basic foundation, we will discuss command training steps, and focused potty training steps in the next two chapters.
A quick recap of this chapter
- There are basically two methods to train dogs – punishment based method and reward based method.
- Punishment based method tries to prevent incorrect behavior by inflicting some sort of verbal or physical punishment.
- Reward based method relies on praise and treats to motivate the dog towards correct behavior.
- Research has proved that dogs trained with the reward method are more obedient and have lesser problematic behavior.
Chapter 5: The 5 Essential Commands
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments” – Jim Rohn
Well, Jim Rohn is right. Practice, consistency and discipline as a dog owner are a must. Remember, you are the role model here. You’re the leader of the pack. If you do not take the lead your puppy will. And that’s where problems start, so as they say ‘nip it in the bud’.
Before you start to potty train your pup, you will have to first teach him a few basic commands. Yes, they are easy but make sure you do it in the right way. These commands will not only help you in your routine interaction with your pup, but they will also help in your pup’s potty training. The training I have outlined below is according to reward based method, which I use with my dogs. At the end of this chapter, I have also outlined a step-by-step method and tips on how you can easily teach these commands to your puppy.
Here are those five essential commands:
- Sit: This command will be useful when you want to take your pup out to pee or poop. You will want him to sit by the door so that you can put on a leash and collar easily. It will also help to calm him before you go out. Some dogs pee in a state of excitement, and this command will help prevent this. By making him sit before going out, you are controlling his impulse to rush out as soon as the door opens.
- Leave it: This is an important command which proves very helpful when you venture out with your pup. Your pup might get distracted by a myriad of things he sees outside on the ground. These things can distract him from his business as he will want to take them in his mouth. By commanding him to leave such things, you are redirecting him towards his pee or poop goal.
- Come: This command helps when you take your pup out without a leash. You do not want him to wander too far away from his potty spot. If he does stray away from his potty spot, you will want him to come back to the spot with this command.
- Heel: Heel is another command that is useful when you take your pup out on a leash. Through this command you can keep the pup close to you. This command will keep him near you and prevent any leash pulling.
- Down: The down command is especially useful if there are other dogs in the vicinity. You will want your pup to stay calm when faced with other dogs. You can make him stay in that position till the other dog has passed by. This way your dog will not get distracted, and he will concentrate on the business on hand.
If you teach these commands to your puppy as soon as you can, then potty training will become much easier.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- When to start: The sooner you start training your new pup the better it will be for him and you. If you start training late, it will make the pup learn some unwanted behavior. Correcting that behavior, and then teaching him the new behavior will simply be a waste of your time. It will also confuse the pup.
- Duration: Pups have short attention span, so do not make the training sessions lengthy. A 5 minute session at one time is sufficient for the young pup. The key here is to keep repeating the sessions daily. Do not skip a single day; otherwise your pup may forget what he learned. Yes, it is a little bit of work at the beginning but it will pay off big time.
- Repeat: Repeat the session at least twice daily. You can do one session in the morning and one in the evening. If you have time then you can also do one in the afternoon or one at night before bedtime. The five basic commands I mentioned above can be done anytime without much effort, so do them more often, and when you possibly can.
- Consistency: Remain consistent with your words and actions. That’s very important because this is where most dog owners mess up. Before you start training, decide upon the wording of the command. You can’t say “leave it” one day and then change it to “don’t take” the other day. Your pup will get confused. So, write it down somewhere or stick it in the fridge, so you or other people in the household can remember. For best results, the whole family needs to work as a team.
- Rewards: Decide upon what reward you want to give your pet when he does something right. Generally, treats work best. Just keep the size of treats very small. You will be using plenty of them and you don’t want to over feed your pet. You can also try luring with favorite toys. Accompany these rewards with a pat and praise, since you will want to phase out the treats eventually. The idea is to link good behavior with a positive experience for your puppy. This will program his brain in that way. You can read more about Ivan Pavlov’s famous classical conditioning experiment, which he did in 1927.
- Tone of voice: All throughout the training keep your voice steady, calm and patient. Keep anger and frustration out of it because it will make your pup nervous and make him unable to perform the task.
- Do not force: Do not force your pup physically to do something. At times it might become tempting to push him down from the back to make him sit. If you do it for him then he will not learn to do it by himself. The idea here is to make him learn to follow the commands himself without any help from you. Off course, in the beginning he will need some guidance and direction, otherwise how will he know what do you mean by sit.
- Command repetition: Do not repeat the command again and again during the training session. Just say the command once when you want the desired action. By repeating the command many times your pup will think that he needs to obey a particular command only when you say it many times. Yes, it is a bit tricky but if you slow down and have plenty of patience, you will get there.
Teaching The Commands
Here is the technique of teaching your pet the 5 commands mentioned before. Teach one command at a time. Only when your pet masters one command, move on to the next one.
Sit: Come close to your pup. Take a treat in your hand and show it to him. Bring it close to his nose so that he can smell it properly. Move your hand a little upwards and behind the nose of your pup. This movement will make his rear go down and it may even touch the ground. When his butt is about to touch the ground, say “Sit” and when he sits, give him the treat. See here you are building positive associations or connections in his brain, and that’s being recorded every time you practice it.
Repeat this exercise:
1) By keeping the treat close to his nose.
2) By keeping the treat in your hand.
3) By giving the treat alternate times. Practice this command indoors, outdoors in the yard or garden and then during walks in the park. So, that it becomes natural for him in different places.
Leave it: To teach this command put a leash on your pup. Place a treat in your hand and let him smell it. Throw the treat a little distance (the distance should be a little more than what the length of the leash will allow). When your pup moves towards the treat, tighten your hold so that your pup is unable to take the treat. Ask him to “leave it” by showing another treat in your hand. When he comes to you, praise him and give him the treat.
Repeat this exercise:
1) With treats.
2) With toys.
3) Sometimes giving the reward and sometimes not.
4) Indoors as well as outdoors.
5) Without leash.
Come: Take the treat close to your pup’s nose and move back a few paces. Let him come towards you, say “come” and give him the treat. Honestly, this is so much fun when you’re doing with your new puppy. Just keep in mind to use the word come and you can use hand gestures, they will remember that. With practice you will find if you use the same gesture without voice, he will come to you. But, do keep it consistent in order to keep it simple for your cute furry friend.
Repeat this exercise:
1) When the pup is a little away from you.
2) Indoors and outdoors.
3) With distractions for example when other people are around.
Heel: Stand in front of your pup. Hold the treat in your hand and show it to him. If you want your pup to heel on your left side then hold the treat in your left hand. Give him the treat the first couple of times. Then, while keeping the treat in your hand, swing your hand in an arc form. The arc formation should start from front, then left side going to the back, and then ending by your left side. Let your pup follow your hand and come to your side. Say “heel” and give him the treat. The purpose of this command is to bring your dog close to you by your side.
Down: Like you do in the sit command, bring the treat a little above your pup’s nose so that his butt is touching the ground. Move the treat towards the ground but a little farther from his nose. This will make him stretch himself a little while in the sitting position, thereby making his belly touch the ground. Say “down” and release the treat. Make sure not to put the treat too far from his sitting position, otherwise it will make him stand and walk towards the treat.
It can happen that your pup obeys you indoors, but when you take him outside and practice, he gets distracted. It will be very important to not get frustrated by this behavior.
If you show frustration in your voice, your pup will think you are unhappy and will not want to come near you. Even if the pup obeys you after 5 minutes, give him the reward. This will motivate him to obey you quicker.
You can practice these commands along with potty training. This is an excellent resource from American Kennel Club (AKC) on teaching 5 basic commands with videos. We will cover potty training in detail in the next chapter.
A quick recap of this chapter
- Teach your pup the five essential commands before you start potty training.
- The five commands are sit, leave it, come, heel and down.
- Practice daily and be patient.
- Your pup’s obedience level can be different indoors and outdoors.
Chapter 6: Steps of Potty Training
“What is possible between a human and animal is attainable only within a relationship” – Suzanne Clothier
I strongly believe in fostering a positive and loving relationship with your puppy. Potty training can be done in three different ways:
- Using puppy pads.
- Using crate.
- And using the leash.
We will cover crate training and puppy pads training in the next chapters. Here we will concentrate on training a new puppy without puppy pads or crate. This type of training is inexpensive, but it might lead to some accidents for sure.
But, before we go anywhere let me give you a quick rundown of the three methods, so that you have the big picture in mind. Let’s go!
When to use puppy pad training
Puppy pad training is ideal for small breed of dogs having small bladder, and hence requiring frequent urination. It is also ideal for working people who need to leave their pet indoors for long period of time. If you do not have a small breed dog or do not intend to leave your pup indoors too long, then it will be better to do without puppy pads. Puppy pad only confuse the pup as he will not be able to differentiate exactly when he needs to pee on the pad and when he should ask to be taken out. There is a workaround to this problem though, which we will discuss in detail when we talk about puppy pad training.
When to use crate training
Crate training is generally the most effective way to house train a new pet. Because a puppy will not soil the place he sleeps in, so using crates to potty train is the quickest way to train the new pup.
You will have to buy a crate for this purpose, but you can use the crate for various other purposes too. You can use the crate while travelling or when making a visit to the vet. So, it is definitely a good investment.
When to use leash
If you do not want to use the crate to potty train the pup then you will have to use the leash. Keep the pup on leash inside the house till he becomes fully potty trained. You can also tie one end of the leash to your belt so that you are aware of your pup’s needs. This way the chances of your pup peeing without you looking are minimized.
Whichever way you choose to potty train your pup, the following things will have to be kept in mind:
Young pups need to be fed 3-4 times a day. Please keep the feeding times fixed. Why? This will help regulate your pup’s metabolism and potty timings. A healthy pup will want to go potty after about 30 minutes of eating. If a pup is not well then this frequency will change. But, if you observe you will easily figure this out. Not rocket science!
You can observe the number of times your pup goes for potty. Observation is the key. This way you will know a tentative potty schedule of your pup and can take him outdoors for potty according to this schedule. Look for signs such as your puppy feeling uncomfortable etc. If it is the first time you are having a puppy, do not worry you’ll quickly learn this.
Keeping a journal
Keep a note of the feeding schedule of your pup. Also, take note of the time duration between his feed and potty. Note down the time duration between play and potty and between wake time and potty time. Observe all this and note it down during the first couple of days. This will help you a lot in training the pup properly. By keeping a journal the chances of you missing his potty times will be lessened.
So, the main thing to understand here is that you’ve to create your own schedule based on what I just mentioned above, because every puppy is different. Trust me, if you do a little bit of planning and journaling, you will be fine and your potty training experience will be so much easier.
Steps of potty training using a leash
1) Keep your pup on the leash most of the time. When he is not on the leash, just keep an eye on him. This is important to prevent any potty accidents in the house. Just bear in mind, this is not forever, just when you are training your puppy. So we are not being cruel. But we are just using the leash as a training tool. Not for reprimanding or anything like that. I want to make this clear because some people freak out about this leash method.
2) Take him outdoors to the intended potty spot at the following times:
– When he wakes up in the morning.
– Immediately after he has finished his meal.
– Immediately after he has had water to drink.
– 30 minutes after finishing his meal.
– After 15-20 minutes of playtime.
– Just before bed time.
3) While taking your pup outdoors, if you think your pup might pee or poop midway, then it will be better to carry him out to his potty spot.
4) Keep the potty sessions short, just 5-7 minutes at a time. Keep him around the potty area and do not let him wander about. The idea is to get him bored with the sights and sounds of the potty area so that he finishes his business quickly. If you move around a lot then he will get distracted by something new each time.
5) If he completes his business then you can take him for a 10 minute walk, but not before. The walk will also be a kind of reward for your pup. It will be a sign to him that good things happen only once he has done his potty, and not before it.
6) Always reward each successful potty session. Say something like “good job”, pat your pup and give him a treat. But, stay consistent the way you use your voice and the command.
7) Whenever you take your pup out for potty, accompany it with words like “go potty” or “potty time” or something like that. It will be his potty command.
8) Release him from the leash for 15-20 minutes of indoor play, only when he has successfully finished doing potty outdoors. So, these are all rewards kind of.
9) According to the age of the pup, he will also require to go to bathroom once or twice during the night.
10) Be on the lookout for your pup’s potty signs. He might whine, scratch at the door or circle around whenever he wants to go out. You do not want to miss those signs and get caught in an unnecessary potty accident.
In Chapter 10 we have also outlined the potty training schedule day wise. It is an example schedule, and it will vary depending upon your pup’s age, learning ability, feeding schedule and so on.
A quick recap of this chapter
- A new pup can be trained using crates, puppy pads or a leash.
- A pup’s potty schedule will depend upon his feeding schedule, naps and play time.
- Decide upon the potty command before you take your pup out for potty. Use that command consistently.
- Always reward a successful potty session.
Chapter 7: Playpen and Crate in Potty Training
“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail” – Kinky Friedman
Crates and playpens are not only ideal tools to keep your pup safely enclosed, but they are also very effective when it comes to potty training. They both can be used separately or together. You can combine crate and playpen to provide a safe, enclosed environment for your pup to play, rest and even poop (if you use puppy pads) in your absence.
WHEN TO USE CRATES AND PLAYPEN
Crates and playpens are generally used in the following circumstances:
- When you are unable to supervise your pup the whole day.
- You want to give your pet a place of his own.
- When there are guests in the house and you do not want to put your pup on a leash.
- To contain any mess he makes till he becomes fully trained.
- To make it easy to involve your pet in family outings.
- To house train your pup quickly.
Of the above uses, the utility of a crate to house train a pup is the greatest. Many pet parents have found that potty training a pup using crates is actually a lot faster.
WHY USING A CRATE IS THE FASTEST
House training using crates relies on the denning instinct of dogs. Wild dogs use dens to give birth to their young ones, to protect themselves from predators and to survive harsh weather. A crate is like a home for them and hence they do not like to soil it. A dog will never pee or poop inside his den. If we use this concept while house training a new pup then it becomes quite easy to train him. The only exception to this general rule will be pups from puppy mills. Since these pups are forced to pee inside their crates, training them will take more effort and time.
When you bring a crate, you can make it more den like and cozy by putting proper bedding inside it. You can also cover the top of the crate with some towels to make it look more secure. Once your pup recognizes the crate as his safe haven he will like to stay inside it to take his naps. He will also like to use it when he wants to get away from children or guests.
Once your pup stays inside the crate comfortably, you can start using it to house train him. Since it is his den he will not want to soil it and will try to hold his bladder. Whenever he wants to relieve himself he will whine or give some other indication.
Your job is to take him out of the crate at that time and straight to the designated potty area. This way any chances of accidents happening inside the house will become almost zero.
Soon, your pup will learn where to do potty and will become fully house trained. Then it will not be necessary to confine him. But, be observant so that when they want to pee, you take them out of the crate right away. Do not give your puppy a chance to think that it is OK to pee inside the crate.
Crate/playpen training can be done by using the reward based method. Put treats and toys inside the crates and playpen so that your pup associates the place with happy thoughts. Never put your pup in a crate or playpen as a punishment. Also do not force him inside. Doing this will make him have negative feelings towards it and make it difficult to train him.
HOUSE TRAINING USING A CRATE OR A PLAYPEN
Before you start using crates or playpen for house training your pup, you will have to keep the following things in mind:
- Size of the crate: The size of the crate should be enough for your pup to sit, stand, lie down or stretch and turn around. If you buy too large size, then your pup can use one side of the crate as his toilet. This will make house training ineffective. But, you will find crate divider, which will help you to adjust the size of the crate.
- Size of the playpen: The playpen size should be according to your pup’s age, weight, height and breed. It will also depend upon what you are using the playpen for. If you are using the playpen to house a crate, food and water bowls, some toys and puppy pads then you will definitely require a big playpen. The height of the playpen should also be enough to prevent your pup from jumping over it.
- Use of bedding: You might want to make the inside of the crate/playpen comfortable for your pet by placing some blankets, towels or his bedding. Try not to put in newspapers inside the crate as your pup might use them as a pee pad.
- Material of the crate/playpen: Playpens and crates use various materials like fabric, plastic and metal wire. Fabric material is more comfortable but not very durable as your pup might chew his way out of it. Metal wire crates and playpen are sturdier but might have sharp edges that can hurt your pet. Look into the various pros and cons of the crates and playpens before you make your purchase decision.
Once you have purchased the right crate or playpen for your pup, you can start using it to house train your pet. Following are the steps of training a pup using crate or a playpen.
STEPS OF POTTY TRAINING USING A CRATE OR A PLAYPEN
1) You will have to confine your pup to the crate till he becomes fully potty trained. You can take him out of crate and let him play inside the house/playpen for 15-20 minutes only when he has finished his potty.
2) Since pups pee or poop the first thing in the morning, you will have to take your pup out of the crate as soon as you wake up. You may even have to set up an alarm to do so. By making your pup hold for too long can result in accidents.
3) A pup can hold his bladder for up to one hour per one month of his age. Try not to exceed this time. If you are unable to take your pup out at the specific time, then make alternative arrangements.
4) As mentioned in chapter 6, you will need to take your pup out for potty breaks at the following times:
- After he has had food and water.
- After playtime and naps.
- Just before going to bed at night.
5) Do not delay when you take your pup out of the crate. If necessary carry your pup to the potty area so that he does not have an accident on the way. Potty area should not be too far away, so it is accessible quickly.
6) When you reach the potty area, put down your pup and say something like “potty time” or “go potty”.
7) Keep your pup there for few minutes till he finishes his business. Reward him with a treat and praise.
If you do not want to use crate for potty training then there are other methods too. You can use puppy pads or puppy bells to potty train your pup. The training steps will be a little different for them though. We will look into that aspect of training in the next chapter.
A quick recap
- Using crates to potty train a pup is the fastest and easiest.
- You will have to confine your pup inside the crate and take him out for potty breaks.
- The amount of time a pup spends in a crate should not be more than the time he can hold his bladder. This will depend upon his age, breed, health, past history and feeding schedule.
Chapter 8: Use of Potty Training Pads
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings
There are various other potty training material available in the market today to make potty training your pup much easier. There are puppy pads, potty mats, turf pads, bells and so on. In this section we will outline the process of potty training a pup using puppy pads. We will also discuss how to use bells as an effective communication medium between you and your dog.
Puppy pads, mats and turf pads are all used for the same thing and that is indoor potty training. Many pet parents find it easier to train a puppy to do potty indoors first. Gradually, they move to outdoor potty training.
Indoor potty training is useful in the following cases:
- When you live in a high rise building and going outdoors for potty training frequently is not easy.
- If you have some health problems or mobility issues.
- If your pup is of a small breed and requires frequent urination.
- When you have to leave your pet home alone for long hours.
- When you live at a place that has a very harsh climate.
Though, using puppy pads in all the above cases make it very convenient to potty train your pup indoors, there can be some drawbacks of using them.
Some drawbacks of using puppy pads are:
- Potty training your pet outdoors becomes difficult later on.
- It can confuse the pet about when to go indoors and when to go outdoors for potty.
- Your pup can use the puppy pads for playing and tear it and create a mess.
- The number of walks a dog gets in a day might get reduced.
Most of the drawbacks of using puppy pads can be overcome if proper training is given to the pet. You can follow the steps given below while potty training your pup using puppy pads.
STEPS OF POTTY TRAINING A PUP USING PUPPY PADS
- Choose a place in the house where you want to place the puppy pads. Make sure you choose a place that is also easy to clean up. There can be an occasional overflow from the pad and hence using a carpeted floor underneath will make cleaning difficult. Take into account the stink factor too before you choose a location.
- As mentioned in previous chapters, your puppy will have to relieve himself at the following times:
- After mealtimes.
- Before bedtime.
- After waking up.
- After playtime.
- Whenever it is time for him to pee or poop, take him to the pee pad and say “go potty” or something similar to that.
- Once he has finished his business, praise him and reward him with a treat.
- You will have to take him to the puppy pads several times a day for the first few days. Once he understands that the puppy pads are his potty place, he will use them by himself.
USING PUPPY PADS WITH CRATE AND PLAYPENS
Puppy pads can be used along with a crate or a playpen. While using it with a crate, the steps to train the puppy will be similar to what we discussed in the previous chapter. Instead of taking your pup outdoors you will now have to take him to the designated indoor potty spot i.e. where the puppy pads are placed.
You can make an indoor play area for your pup using the playpen and puppy pads. You can place the bedding or crate of your pup at one side of the playpen. Place the puppy pads at the opposite side or a side which is away from the bedding. You might want to anchor the puppy pads with the playpen panels. By anchoring them in this way, you can prevent your pup from running away with the pad.
If you intend to keep the pup inside the playpen for long, keep the food and water bowls also with him. You can keep them at one end of the playpen. Leave some toys also inside the playpen for your pup to play with. This kind of setup is great for working pet parents who might have to leave their pup home alone for long hours.
If you are simply using the puppy pads in your absence and want to train your pup outdoors too, then make sure to remove the pads when you arrive home. Once you are home, you will have to keep a close eye on your pup to prevent any accidents. Whenever it is time for him to pee or poop, take him outdoors. This way your pup will learn to use the puppy pads only in your absence.
HOW TO GRADUATE FROM INDOOR TO OUTDOOR POTTY TRAINING?
If you have been using the puppy pads for a certain time period only, like the winter months, you will have to train your pet to do potty outdoors later on.
There are two ways to achieve this:
- You can start by placing the puppy pads nearer the door. Move the pads a couple of inches towards the door every two days. Do not try to move the pads too far too fast. This can confuse your pup and can result in accidents.
- Once your pup has started using the puppy pads just near the door, you can now start placing them just outside the door. This way your pup will get used to doing potty in the fresh air.
- Now, move the puppy pads to the designated outdoor potty area. Once your pup gets used to doing potty outside, you can remove the puppy pads.
- In this method you will have to take your pup by the leash to do potty.
- Place a used puppy pad at the designated potty spot outside.
- When it is potty time for your pet, take him outside to the puppy pad.
- Reduce the size of the puppy pad little by little daily.
- Once your pet becomes fully trained to do potty on grass, you can remove the pad completely.
Always accompany your training with lots of rewards in the form of praise, pats and treats. This will encourage your pet and help in training him faster.
USING PUPPY BELLS FOR POTTY TRAINING
Some dog owners also like to use puppy bells as a means of communication with their pet. They want their pet to be able to communicate his wish to go outdoors by ringing the bell. Bells are definitely a better option than whining or scratching doors. You can easily train your pet to ring the bell whenever he wants to go outside to eliminate.
STEPS OF POTTY TRAINING A PUP USING PUPPY BELLS
- Place a bell at the door at a convenient height. The bell should be easily reachable to your pup. He should be able to touch it by his nose or press it with his paw.
- When it is your pet’s potty time, take him towards the door that has the bell. Take a treat near the bell so that your pup’s nose touches the bell while he smells the treat. As soon as his nose touches the bell, praise him and give him the treat. And then take him outside for potty. Once he has done his potty, give him a treat again.
- After repeating this exercise a couple of times, your pup will learn to ring the bell whenever he wants to go outside.
- In order to prevent him from ringing the bell unnecessarily, give him a treat only when he does potty after going outside. Do not give him a treat for false alarms.
- Bell training should only be given for scheduled potty trips and not for any emergency potty trips.
As you can see there are numerous ways in which you can potty train your pet. If you are a busy pet parent, then use crates and playpens to train your pup. If you are at home the whole day then you can use the leash or bells for the training purpose. It is not too difficult to train your pup if you approach the training with a positive frame of mind. With the right kind of training you can easily form good habits in your pup.
A quick recap
- Indoor potty training can be done using puppy pads.
- Puppy pads can also be used along with a crate or a playpen. When used with a playpen they help provide safe enclosed play area for your pup.
- A pup that has been potty trained indoor, can be later on trained to do potty outdoors too.
- Puppy bells can be used as an effective communication tool during potty training. They help your pet to communicate to you whenever he wants to go out for potty.
Chapter 9: Power of Habits
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit” – Aristotle
Before I go further on potty training plan there is something I would like to share with you. There is this book I came across called “Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg. It is an excellent book that talks about how to change habits in very clear and simple terms. The reason I mentioned this book now is because I find it very relevant to what we are dealing with here.
Currently, our main aim is to develop the right potty habit in our pup, right. We want the pup to develop the habit of going potty at the correct spot. And this inspiring book by Charles Duhigg also talks about changing old habits and forming new and better ones.
Habits are something we do without thinking. It is like a formula. There is a desire to do something, we do it and we get some sort of reward out of it. The book calls this a “habit framework” and its starts with cue, followed by a routine and ending with a reward.
Just by understanding this framework we can change many of our bad habits. By changing the cue that triggers our actions, we can change our habit almost permanently. There might be some very old habits that will require more effort to change, but it can be done.
Changing habits is not impossible
In our case, if we have a pup with a habit of house soiling, then we can begin with concentrating on the cue that is triggering that action.
Off course there will be more. But I have listed some cues below that may make the pup poop or pee in the house:
- Excitement (whenever you come home from office, he pees).
- Nervousness (when you leave for office he goes and poops and pees in undesirable places).
- Boredom (there is no one to play with him during the day).
- Fear (he poops generally in the night).
- Or, after they have had their meal.
Our aim would be to find the cue that is triggering this habit. Once we know the cue we can work towards changing it so that the action that follows the cue also changes.
If your pup suffers from boredom then you can provide a few interesting toys. They will keep him engaged and sufficiently distracted. You can also keep the TV on so that your pup does not feel lonely.
You can also hire pet sitters or dog walkers to provide some sort of companionship to your pup. This is also a good way of maintaining a potty training routine.
If your pup gets too excited to see you back home then you can try out a couple of tricks. You can ask a friend to walk your dog just before you come home. Your pet will relieve himself during the walk and his chances of peeing when he sees you will be minimized.
You can also keep your unwashed shirt near his bedding. This way even when you are not with him, your scent will comfort him and will lessen his excitement on seeing you. Trust me, these simple things help a lot.
Give plenty of exercise to your pup before you leave for the day. The exercise will tire him and he will most probably be ready to take a nap when you leave. Having a pet sitter or a friend accompany your pet when you leave can also help alleviate your pup’s nervousness. I know it is tough when you are working full-time or whatever. But, you will only need some extra-help or support when your puppy is little. As they grow, they will pick up good habits and you will not have to worry about them as much.
If your pup pees during the night you can let him sleep in your room initially. Your nearness will comfort him and lessen his fear.
You can also keep a toy near his bedding that emits a ticking heart beat kind of sound. These are snuggle toys and comfort a pet by providing heat and sound that make a pup feel a part of a pack.
These are just a few examples of various cues and ways to change them. We just need to remember that any bad habit that our pet develops can be changed, if we keep on trying. We just have to approach the problem in a methodical manner and change the triggers.
With this positive approach we will have a look at the potty training plan and the 7 day schedule in the next chapter.
A quick recap
- Habits are automatic actions that we perform almost without thinking.
- Any habit works in a cue->routine->reward framework.
- By changing the cue, the subsequent actions can also be changed.
Chapter 10: 7 Day Potty Training Schedule
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton
We have seen a pup can be potty trained using various tools like a crate, puppy pads and bells and so on. Whichever tool you choose to train your pup, just be consistent in your method.
It is very important to have a plan of action before you start training your pup. Decide upon the feeding schedule, potty area and most importantly, the method (crate/leash/pads/bells) you will use to train your pup.
I will outline a potty schedule spanning 7 days in this chapter. This is just an example schedule and you can tweak it according to your requirement’s and your pup’s preference.
We are going by the no confinement method since it has the least dependencies on tools. If you are using other tools like crate or bells, you can make changes to the schedule by following the steps outlined in the previous chapters. Refer to Chapter 6 for leash based training, Chapter 7 for crate and playpen based training and Chapter 8 for puppy pads and bells based potty training.
There are just two prerequisites when using the no confinement method:
- Puppy will have to be supervised closely.
- His access will be restricted to one or two rooms only. This is only till the time he becomes fully potty trained. So, do not feel bad about it.
Before you start, just remember that a pup can take more than 7 days to become fully trained. Some pups can even take a couple of months before they become completely house trained.
Just continue with your training patiently and give your pup time. If you are consistent in your approach, your pup will eventually pick up your cues and form good potty habits. These habits will remain with him life long and will add value to your relationship with him.
So let us start with our schedule of potty training.
DAY ZERO – DAY OF PREPARATION
This can be the day just before your pup arrives. This does not include just one day but can include several days depending upon what all preparation you will have to make before your pup arrives.
Here is a checklist of all the items that you will need to take care of before your pup arrives:
- Pup’s bedding is ready.
- You have decided which bowls to use as the puppy’s food and water bowls.
- Pup’s food has been purchased.
- A toy basket is ready for the pup which will include some chew toys, treat toys, snuggle toys and so on.
- You have bought a crate and/or playpen appropriate to your pup’s age and size (only if you will be doing crate training).
- You have bought a leash and collar for your pup.
- Bells, puppy pads have arrived (only if you will be using them).
- You have designated a potty area in your yard or garden. If you do not have a yard or garden then designate a potty area in the curb side or wherever you think is appropriate outdoors.
- Puppy proofing of your home is done.
- If you will be using treats as rewards, then decide upon how many treats can be given to your pup in one day. You can talk to your pup’s vet about this. In order to avoid over feeding your pup, you can take out the daily ration in a box and give treats from that box only.
DAY ONE – DAY OF INTRODUCTION
Introduction to his belongings:
This is the day your pup arrives at your home. It is his first day and he might be a little nervous, excited, scared or tired. Take it easy and slow today and just introduce him to his things. By doing slowly, I do not mean doing house training slowly. It just means not to overwhelm your pup with too many things at a time. Though you and your family members might really want to show him around, just postpone the big party by a few weeks. Remember, this is a very important bonding time, give your pup enough time and attention he deserves.
Introduction to the potty area:
Once you have introduced the pup to his things, put a collar and leash on him and take him outdoors to the place you will want him to do his potty. Let him sniff around it and become familiar with it. If he pees there then great, praise and pat him and even give him a treat. You have made him mark the intended potty spot. You have actually achieved the first milestone. Yahoo! You can take him inside and let him play for 15-20 minutes or you can even take him for a short walk. If he does not pee or poop within 5-7 minutes then take him inside.
If your pup did not have a successful potty time outside, then keep an eye on him the whole time he is indoors. Those who will be using confinement method will have to confine the pup now, using the crate or a leash. If you are not using the confinement method, then make sure to not leave your pup unsupervised for a single minute. Watch for any signs that might tell you that your pup needs to go.
Some of these signs are:
- Whining or whimpering.
- Going towards the door.
- Scratching the door.
- Going in circles.
- Sniffing the home floor.
- Stopping play midway and running off in another direction.
- Attaining a squatting position (this indicates that your pup is about to poop in 2-3 seconds hence you will have to act real fast).
- Take him out again after 15-20 minutes and repeat the “potty area introduction” routine.
You will have to take your pup out every hour depending upon his age. You will also have to take him out after his naps and meals. Make sure to take him out before you turn in for the night. Set an alarm for a midnight trip too.
If despite your supervision and many outdoor trips, your puppy pees or poops indoors, do not panic. Remember not to show any negativity towards the pup. Just clean that area really well so that there is no smell remaining. Supervise your pup more closely now.
DAY TWO – DAY OF LEARNING
As soon as you wake up the next day, take your pup outdoors for his morning pee and poop. Once your pup finishes his business, reward him with treats and praise. You can also take him for a walk once his bladder and bowels are empty. Remember not to take your pup for a walk before he has eliminated. The walk is also a reward for him for doing the right thing.
Today will be similar to the previous day. You will have to remain on high alert whenever your pup is indoors and not confined.
The two most important things to note down today are:
1) Food and poop timings
Make a meal schedule and stick to it strictly. His meal times will also determine his potty schedule. You can note down the meal and potty timing of the pup in a journal. These entries will help you a lot to know when your pup needs to poop and will keep you prepared.
2) Water and pee timings
The same rule applies to water intake and pee. If you can, then take a note of your pup’s water intake and pee timing. Do not restrict your pup’s water intake just to regulate his pee timings. However, you can avoid giving water just before bedtime to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
DAY THREE, FOUR AND FIVE – REPEAT
Just repeat whatever you were doing on day two. Keep the same food timings. Take your pup outdoors at regular intervals. If you have been keeping a close watch on your pup for the last two days, then by now you must have become familiar with his potty signals. Do not skip taking him out a single time. One mistake can undo your efforts till now and make you start again.
DAY SIX – DAY OF CORRECTION
Today, you can observe if your pup is responding well to potty training. He might be going towards the door when it is his potty time. Check your journal and make any corrections to the timings if necessary.
DAY SEVEN – DAY OF CELEBRATION
If your pup has been consistently going out to pee and poop, it is time for a little celebration. You can start by giving him access to other rooms also. Just make sure that you maintain his schedule diligently.
Training a pup to pee and poop in the correct area is not very difficult if you follow your action plan consistently without losing your patience. Your positive attitude towards the whole training process will help make the training more successful. It will also make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your pup.
A quick recap
- Start potty training from the day your pup arrives at your home.
- Follow a consistent feeding and potty schedule.
- Maintain a journal to note down the potty timings.
- If an accident happens, clean the area properly so that no smells remain.
- Maintain a positive attitude towards the training and avoid scolding your pet at any time.
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