Toilet training is best commenced very early in the pup’s life. Urination and defecation are very instinctive forms of behaviour. Alteration of these natural actions, requires patience and perseverance.
The aim is to build up the habit of elimination in a desired place, otherwise the puppy may go in a particular spot in the house because it has never been taught not to. The key to success is to encourage the puppy to go in the right area and then reward him for that behaviour. Punishing a puppy for going to the toilet in the wrong place is not an effective way to eliminate this behaviour.
The times a pup wants to urinate can usually be anticipated:
- Immediately after feeding
- Pup sniffs around the floor in a tight circle perhaps looking worried
- On awakening
- After a period of play or excitement
At these times the pup should be taken outdoors to the desired spot and gently coaxed to stay there until it has preformed, using some suitable word of command. It is probably best not to use a word that sounds too close to “sit”!
Patience is required and at no time should you display any anger or frustration if at first the procedure does not go smoothly.
When the pup goes to the toilet in the right area he should be given some reward, e.g. petting or a food treat.
Problems arise if:
- The pup is left on his own for too long. He can be penned in a place covered with newspaper, thus training him to paper, but this can still lead to problems with retraining later.
- He is punished at a young age for dirtying the carpet he will then simply avoid going when anyone is looking and may sneak into another room to perform.
- If he has already left a smell on the carpet he will be attracted back to the same area. Therefore smells should immediately be eliminated by cleaning the area using a biological detergent.
Punishment rarely has any beneficial effects in the toilet training process. In fact it is likely to make the problem worse. Punishment given at any time other than immediately after the event will probably not even be associated in the dogs mind with the crime.