Potty training a dog can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, but dog owners can tell you quite a few things they’ve learned from experience. In fact, dogs are usually pretty quick learners, and housebreaking might not be as difficult as you think, so long as you follow some good advice.
January is National Train Your Dog Month, and it’s a great time to learn more about training your pup. Of course, we pet parents are eager to learn more about our dogs at any time of year!
Here are ten things experienced dog owners can tell you about potty training.
1. You Have To Catch Them In The Act
If you come home and find a mess, there’s no use in yelling or punishing your dog. Pups can understand that you’re upset, but it’s hard for them to connect that to a behavior that they’re no longer doing.
The best thing to do is catch them in the act, then quickly take them outside. Then, they can understand that the act of going in the house is what upsets you.
2. Positive Reinforcement Goes A Long Way
Speaking of yelling and punishment, it’s not that effective when compared to treats and praise for doing the right thing.
When your dog goes outside to do their business, you really need to provide lots of rewards. Your pup will learn much faster with positive reinforcement.
3. Dogs Don’t Really Feel Guilty, But They Fake It Well
Guilty dogs may be a trend on the internet, but dogs don’t feel guilt the way humans do.
Sure they shrink back, avoid eye contact, and look sad, but they’re really more afraid of eliciting a disappointed reaction from their humans. Dogs don’t know that going potty inside the house is wrong; they just understand that they will be rewarded for doing it outside.
So don’t shame your dog, as it just makes them unhappy without really teaching them anything.
4. Water Before Bed Is Not Always A Good Idea
Dogs are a bit like human children in that liquids before bed may mean accidents during the night. If your dog can’t hold it through the night, maybe it’s time to set the water bowl aside before bed.
A final trip outside can also reduce the risk of an accident during the night.
5. What Goes In Has To Come Out
You probably understand this idea already, but when your dog eats or drinks, it’s going to have to come out the other end. That means that your dog’s poop and pee schedules rely a lot on when they’ve eaten.
Dog owners know that they need to pay attention to meal time to know when outside time needs to happen. Experienced dog owners can tell you exactly when their pups will need to go potty after a meal.
Also, changes in your dog’s food, and especially eating people food, affect your pup’s potty schedule, so watch out when messing with their diet.
6. The Weather Doesn’t Give Excuses
When a dog’s gotta go, a dog’s gotta go, and during the training process you need to tag along with them.
It’s important that you are outside with your pup, no matter the weather, to provide praise for a job well done during training.
Your dog might also be apprehensive about going outside in some kinds of weather, but having you with them will go a long way in teaching your pup that potty needs to happen outside, whether it’s rain or shine.
7. Being Consistent Is Key
Training is a process that demands consistency. Your pup should learn when to expect outdoor time during the day, and you should not skip on the praise and rewards for a job well done.
Dogs learn best when training becomes routine, so make sure you keep at it and don’t skip a day.
8. Dogs Give You Signs
Dog owners almost always know when their pups need to do their business. That’s because owners learn to read the signs their dogs give them.
These signs are sometimes individual to dogs. One of my dogs paces near the door when he has to go potty, and another starts wandering aimlessly, and another jumps and begs me directly, but I recognize what each of them is trying to tell me from experience.
Look for these signs and learn what your dog is saying to you.
9. Accidents Happen
Even the best-trained dogs can have accidents from time to time. Pups get sick, or they get scared, or they get anxious, and accidents happen. There’s no use getting upset over it, especially when your dog can’t control it.
Keep an eye on your pup’s behavior. If accidents become more frequent, even after training, it may be time for a trip to the vet to see if something is wrong. Anything from a urinary tract infection to diabetes to separation anxiety can cause accidents.
10. Dogs Learn Way Faster Than Kids
Human children can still be wetting their pants at age two. Dogs learn where to go potty much, much faster than children, and they have an easier time learning, too.
Any experienced dog owner can tell you that potty training is easier than it sounds, and it doesn’t take long for your pup to understand the rules.
So don’t be daunted. Stay consistent, and your pup will be doing their business outside all the time before you know it.
What do you know about potty training as an experienced dog owner? Do you have any tips for beginners? Let us know in the comments below!