One of the main reasons for the surrendering of dogs to shelters is house soiling issues. Just imagine the following scenario: you wake up in the morning, it’s a sunny day outside and you can hear the birds singing next to the window; you step out of your bed, feeling energized and ready for a… oh, the horror! Your feet are now bathing on a pool of dog pee. What a joyful way to start the day, isn’t it? And just wait until you get to the kitchen… there’s a Mount Everest of dog poop laying on your favorite carpet. Well, if your dog was housetrained, this wouldn’t have happened. Potty training a dog can be tiring, it’s true! It requires patience and persistence. But if you follow some simple rules, things can get easier.
The first thing to remember is that dogs tend to eliminate immediately after waking up, eating or drinking and a play session.
The second thing is: your dog shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely around the house while he’s not housetrained. Every time he has the opportunity to eliminate on an inadequate place, he’s being reinforced for it. So, to prevent this, he must be confined to a small space, at first. Since dogs will naturally avoid eliminating next to their sleeping and eating areas, they’ll try to hold it for a bit longer. When the dog can’t be actively supervised, he should be kept on his confinement area. Give him plenty of opportunities to go to his doggy toilet, though.
When he eliminates on the appropriate place, make sure you reward him. This doesn’t mean saying “Good Boy!” and walking away. Verbal rewards are an extremely weak reinforcement.
Would you go to work every day if at the end of the month you only received a verbal compliment as a paycheck? You need money, right?
Dogs need an appropriate paycheck too. Offer him a yummy treat. Food is a very powerful reinforcement for most dogs, so make sure you use it with a verbal cue. On the other hand, if your dog makes a mistake, don’t punish him. Punishing a dog for eliminating on the wrong spot will probably teach him that we can’t trust you and, as a consequence, you’ll end up with a dog that goes behind the couch.
My fourth tip is that when you find an accident, you must correctly clean it. Don’t use bleach or any detergent containing ammoniac. It will only enhance the scent of urine. Try to use an enzymatic cleaner that destroys the odour molecules. I personally recommend Nature’s Miracle, it really is a miracle worker. If you don’t use a special cleaner like this, your dog will still be able to smell the odour and will continue to pee in that same spot. Also, unlike some other cleaners, Natures Miracle is not toxic, bonus!
Potty training a dog requires patience, since it won’t happen overnight. If your dog has been pooping all around the house for five years, you won’t be able to teach him in five days. Remember: reward your dog every time he gets it right and don’t punish him when he gets it wrong (if you catch him in the act, try to make a loud noise in order to interrupt him and take him to the appropriate place straight away).