05 Aug Housebreaking Still a Challenge??
I have received several calls recently from clients who have said they have been having issues with their older puppies and the housebreaking process. Many have said their dogs are nearing a year old and still using the indoors as their bathroom. Which of course is not acceptable! So I thought I would go over the training process again.
Often owners start out doing everything properly, but once again as I always say, “Life Happens”! We quickly loose focus and before we know it we are facing those issues again. Some of the common mistakes owners make are not establishing a routine. Dogs have a strong urge to go to the bathroom after sleeping, playing, eating and of course drinking. If you establish a routine, of always going out at certain times, you will quickly regulate your dogs natural body clock and their bathroom visits will become predictable. Your routine must include you taking the dog to the appropriate spot to use the bathroom all the time. Everything you do about going out to go to the bathroom must be the same, every single time. Remember dogs learn by association, so this is critical in teaching them where to go to the bathroom. This is also critical in having the dog eventually let you know they have to go to the bathroom, instead of you keeping track. Whatever command you choose for your dog “going to the bathroom”, whether it be go potty, or do your business, pair it with the association as you walk out the door to go. For example I will say to Bernard, as I open the door, “let’s go potty outside”. When he does go outside, I will say the phrase, “good potty outside.” I have made the association as I go out the door with the spot that he has eliminated in. It will take the dog several repetitions to catch on, however it will happen. Now when Bernard has to go, he will go sit by the door, and I know he needs to use the bathroom.
Another mistake that many owners don’t realize that matters is free feeding. Often I will hear that they just leave the food down all day and the dogs eat when they want. Please don’t do that, for many reasons. One, a dog that eats on schedule, goes to the bathroom on schedule, just as we talked about the routine above.
Consistency is another issue. Many times owners within the same family are not all on the same page. You will have one person doing it one way, and another a different way. Teach everyone to always do the same thing with the dog. It’s the easiest and fastest way to let your dog know what you expect.
If your dog has gone to the bathroom in the house, especially if they keep going in the same area, feed your dog there. Dog’s do not like to eliminate where they are eating. So if you make the association of food in that area, your dog going to the bathroom there, should quickly be gone. Just don’t forget, they may look for a new spot to claim, so here is where your training must kick in!