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Puppy Toilet Training
The hard rule of house training or toilet training a puppy is controlling everything they do, in other words, 100% management of what they do at every moment in the day, every day. Rewarding desired behaviour (going to the toilet outside) and re-directing undesired behaviour (the puppy showing signs of needing to use the toilet while in the house).
Following is an example of a normal, expected puppy toilet training routine:
- Take a puppy outside to the toilet immediately when they wake-up
- Take a puppy outside immediately following a play, exercise or indoor training session
- Take a puppy outside 5-10 minutes after drinking
- Take a puppy outside approximately 20 minutes after eating
- Finally, take a puppy outside to allow it to go to the toilet every 30 minutes, if you have not already been outside following an aforementioned activity
Make an association for the puppy whilst toilet training, as dogs learn almost exclusively through operant and classical conditioning. In plain words, this means immediate reinforcement, whether that be positive or negative, at the exact moment of the behaviour. In the matter of house training a puppy, it is conditioning the location of the behaviour - toilet outdoors versus toilet indoors. Choose a command word for your toilet training, a example being, "outside" or "be quick", and say it every time you take your puppy outside for toilet time.
Be absolutely consistent in your reinforcement - unlike humans, dogs can not make logical leaps in connecting cause and effect. When the puppy uses the toilet outside, reward them immediately; when the puppy shows signs of using the toilet inside the house, gently correct them with your voice ("ah ah") and gently, but quickly and enthusiastically, lead them to the appropriate space using your command word.
Ideally, (and this is entirely possible), if you have a healthy, happy puppy and manage 100% of their time using 100% consistent and timely reinforcements during puppy toilet training, you will never have an accident in the house. They may seep a spot or two in the process, but your carpets should be safe. And, as the puppy further develops, you extend the time between taking them out, and you become more and more familiar with their digestive schedule and ways of telling you they have to go out, and any time you take them to a new environment, you repeat the procedure until they are consistent in every situation. Following are points to consider in bullet-proofing your puppy toilet training plan:
- Strongly consider a crate as your puppy's bed. If introduced and used properly, you have the option of securing the door as needed, and if not left for too long, a healthy puppy will not soil where they sleep
- When you need to leave the puppy for any length of time, arrange to have someone put them out at regular intervals so that they can go to the toilet.
- Keep the puppy's fouling area foul-free
- Clean soiled areas well - spray with vinegar
- If you do not catch the puppy in the act of soiling in the house, there is not a whole lot you can do, except completely ignore them whilst you clean it up. There is no way you can connect the crime for them - they will simply not understand
- Do not punish a puppy with harm under any circumstance, it is not necessary, it will not be effective and furthermore, it will have a negative effect on your bonding
- Only allow the puppy to eat during scheduled feeding times, and only leave food for a set amount of time, (water should be left at all times)
- Do not give a non house trained puppy house freedom before they are ready - mostly because you cannot watch a puppy from all over the house
- Give brief supervised access to other areas of the house right after they have relieved themselves outside
- Go outside with the puppy, even if your garden is fenced - until they are completely house trained, they need your direct and immediate reinforcement and will not get this from a distance
Please contact us for a copy of our complimentary, fully-detailed Puppy Toilet Training document
Where's the loo? I can't smell it anywhere.
Patricia B. McConnell, The Other End of the Leash,