Friday, August 3, 2012

Dog potty training tips: try a crate!

There are many ways to potty-train a dog. I know one common method is to paper-train the dog first. This involves teaching the dog to only go to the bathroom (in the house) on newspaper or puppy-pad diapers. This method makes it easier to clean up messes in the house and requires fewer trips outside—after the dog has learned to go to the bathroom on the paper. However, this method makes it much harder to eventually teach the dog to only go to the bathroom outside. By using this method, you’re initially telling your dog it’s ok to go to the bathroom in the house; under certain conditions, yes, but still. I never recommend that people potty-train their dog this way.

I believe it is less confusing for the dog if the rules don’t change part way through their development and training—no poo or pee in the house at all from the beginning! I believe the best way to accomplish this is to crate-train a dog. Crating works because dogs will not go to the bathroom where they sleep. Keeping a dog in its crate whenever you’re not around or can’t supervise it will help the dog learn to hold their bowels and bladder; this is an important thing for dogs to learn if you ever want to leave them in the house unsupervised in the future. Any occurrence when your dog goes to the bathroom in the house and is not corrected is an instance where the dog doesn’t know it did a bad thing. And you can’t correct a behavior you don’t see happening, so these accidents will only slow down the potty-training process.

The trick to using a crate to potty-train your dog is to always take them outside as soon as you let them out of their crate. If they have been holding it, then they’re more likely to go to the bathroom in the correct location (outside!), which means you can then praise them and let them know that they did a good thing. You can even give your dog a tasty treat as a reward for going to the bathroom outside! Rewards, whether praise or a tasty tidbit, will help reinforce to the dog that going to the bathroom outside is a good thing.

It’s important to remember that very young puppies cannot physically hold their bladder or bowels very long; a good rule of thumb is that a puppy can go one hour for every month of age (though I’m sure there is some variability depending on the dog!). Leopold was ten weeks old when I first got him, which meant I had to take him outside every three hours—otherwise he’d have an accident (in his crate if that’s where he was!). This meant I had to get up in the middle of the night to let him out of his crate so that he could go outside and go to the bathroom, but that’s all a part of owning a puppy.

Potty training can be a trying task, but I believe crate-training can help the process go faster and reduces frustration.

I used a crate to help potty train Leopold.  Here he is at ten weeks old.

No comments:

Post a Comment