Potty Training Made Easy
January 21, 2010 -
Debbie McKnight, CPDT - Accredited PetSmart Trainer
By far, the most common questions I’ve heard since Christmas all center around potty training. The good news is: potty training isn’t rocket science. It just involves management and supervision. There are a couple of items that will make your potty training experience go smoother.
The first is an appropriately sized crate. Whether you choose a wire or plastic kennel, it needs to be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. That’s it! Do not give them any additional room to start with. Dogs will naturally try to avoid soiling their “den” or sleeping area, but if you give them enough room for a separate bathroom, they might use it. If your crate is small enough, but your dog is still soiling the kennel (assuming he’s not in there longer than he can hold it and assuming he’s not from a pet store or puppy mill where they often stack crates), the problem could be his bed. If you have anything absorbent in the kennel, remove it. Absorbent materials will soak up the urine and/or hide the feces, which makes it less unpleasant for your dog. You want your dog to think he’ll be uncomfortable if he soils the kennel so he will try to hold it. Of course, all this assumes that someone is available to let your dog out to potty at necessary intervals. A young puppy can’t hold his bladder all day! If that is not an option, you will need a larger area, complete with a potty pad (towards the back) and room for the dog to lie down.
Another item that is usually necessary is proper cleaner. If your dog has an accident, you should clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner. Regular carpet or household cleaners may remove the stain and the smell as far as you’re concerned, but your dog can still smell it and might be attracted to use that spot as a restroom again. If you aren’t sure where the accidents happened, a blacklight will illuminate them for you.
A couple of things that aren’t necessary, but can speed things up, are a leash and treats. The treats are to reward your dog for pottying in the correct spot. To be effective, the treat must be given to the dog at the “potty spot”, not after he comes back in the house. That means you have to go with him outside… yes, even if it’s raining! The leash can be used outdoors to keep him from wandering off and getting distracted. “Outside” can be very distracting and often the dog will forget that he has to go. Keeping him on leash can keep him on track. The leash is also useful inside as a tether. I often recommend the “umbilical method” where you keep the dog attached to you with a leash so he cannot have an accident without you noticing.
Use the dog’s natural instinct to keep a clean den to your advantage. Keep him in a small area when you cannot supervise him, only giving him more space when he is reliable and increasing it slowly. Reward him for relieving himself in the correct spot. Take him out regularly and keep him on a schedule. Watch your dog! Supervision is your best friend when potty training a dog. If you do your job, he’ll be potty trained in no time.
If you still have questions, PetSmart offers FREE Potty Training seminars with your Pet Perks card (offer valid 2/1-2/21/10).