Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Potty Training – How to Establish a Routine

April Malinowski

Consistency is the single word that describes the key to training your dog anything and potty training is no exception. Since potty training requires constant training, versus daily sessions, establishing a routine is one way to help stay consistent with your normal day to day schedule. 

Although puppies usually come to mind when potty training is mentioned dogs of all ages may need training. Dogs who were previously outside dogs, in shelters, or other environments where they may not have had the relevant training also benefit from an established routine. Even dogs who have been potty trained will often need a refresher when you bring them home for the first time. So expect that all dogs will need a moment to learn the rules, layout and let you know how they will signal to go out.

What to Learn

·        How often your dog generally needs to potty. Dogs are not born knowing how to “hold it”. Getting older and training will help them condition their bladder/bowels to hold it until they are outside. Take your dog out frequently, paying attention to the time between eliminations (peeing or pooping). If you are unsure with how often is frequent then start with every 2 hours. Also pay attention to how soon they have a bowel movement after eating. If they have an accident mark the time so you know how to adjust. Consider using a dog walker if you are going to be at work or out for most of the day.

·        Decide what feeding schedule works best. A regular feeding schedule makes potty times a little more predictable. So plan on feeding times that you would have time to take them out afterwards. Age, diet, and exercise can all influence how quickly a dog will need to go after eating. I would recommend removing water bowls an hour or two before bedtime until trained.

·        Figure out what motivates your dog. Some dogs love praise, others a good scratch behind the ears, others will do anything for a treat and some would love a good walk around the block. Figure out what your dog will respond to consistently and use that when they potty outside. Timing of the praise is crucial here. You will need to wait until they are completely done eliminating so you don’t distract them from the task at hand. However, don’t wait until they are back inside because they may not make the connection.

·        Pick your visual and verbal cues. It can be helpful to pick a spot in the yard to always take them to and give the command “go potty”. If they get easily distracted you can put them on a leash to prevent wandering and focus on the task at hand. In general getting your dog used to going potty on a leash is helpful if they will be travelling with you. With Daisy I also use the command “Night Time Potty” so she knows it is the last potty break until the morning.

·        Learn your dog’s body language. There are many ways a dog can signal they are about to potty or need to go outside. Going to the door, squatting, excessive sniffing, circling, barking, scratching at door are all common signals. Knowing what they are can help prevent accidents. If you don’t want your dog to bark or scratch then you can consider using a Daisy-Care Potty Training Care Package to teach them to ring a bell.

·        Be realistic about your ability to stay vigilant and how long it will take. If you aren’t able to supervise and prevent accidents or catch them in the act then your progress will be limited. Consider crating when you can’t offer your full attention. Don’t try to move through training too fast, continue training and rewarding even if you think they got it to prevent setbacks. I usually keep the training up until they have gone a month with no accidents then I start to slowly back off training.

Example Potty Schedule

Below is an example schedule I used for one of my clients based on his activity level, eating schedule and natural sleep cycle. The dog in this example is a toy breed puppy who came from a breeder with no potty training done prior.

·        Wake up for the day (usually between 6am and 7am)

·        Potty break

·        Two hour long playtime with access to food and water

·        Potty break

·        Nap time until they wake up on own or noon

·        Potty break

·        Lunch time and water in play crate (usually 15 to 20 minutes)

·        Hour and a half long playtime outside when the weather is good

·        Nap time until they wake up on own or 8pm

·        Potty Break

·        Two hour long playtime with access to food and water

·        Potty break

·        Bedtime

·        Night time potty breaks as needed (he will cry) – this has varied from 6 hours to sleeping the whole night.

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