Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Potty Training

I get a ton of questions about potty training, but I will try to keep it simple here.

First, let's address the most common misconceptions about potty training dogs:
1) This is one all of us have heard:
When the puppy potties inside the house, rub their nose in it.
•Okay, so let's break this down...
If you are potty training a human toddler, and you let your guard down for a moment and leave them without a diaper on, and they start peeing on your living room carpet, what would you do? 
-Would you rub their nose in it? Of course not! That's horrible! 
-Okay, so what would you do?
   *Probably pick them up and run them to the nearest toilet.

When you think about it in these terms it makes a lot of sense to run the toddler to the nearest toilet, in part because it will decrease the mess, but also because it will communicate to the toddler that potty goes in the toilet, not on the carpet! 

•So now, here is the question: if it is so logical to run the toddler to the toilet rather that rubbing their nose in the mess, why do we think it would be so different from a puppy?
-Do we think that puppies are somehow smarter than human toddlers and can perceive our meaning when we punish them harshly for soiling the floor inside the house? 
   **I personally think it is quite obserd to believe that our puppies are smarter than human children.
-Do we believe that showing them their mess is somehow linked to how their natural dog behavior works? Does the mother dog somehow manage to push the puppy's face into the mess that they made in the den in order to encourage them to go outside? 
   **No, by the way, she doesn't. She will remove the waste by eating it herself...not something that I think most humans would like to do.

•Alright, so let's go back to how we would teach our human toddlers to potty in the correct place, 
We would move them from the incorrect place, and take them to the appropriate place. Well, this seems to make a lot of sense, so why don't we do this with our puppies? 


**Here is the truth of the matter; why the method of rubbing a dog's nose in their mess has persisted for so long:
Many dogs will associate that having their nose rubbed in their own mess is a negative thing (obviously), and they are likely to associate the act of pottying with something that YOU interpret as negative. Therefore, they would prefer to potty somewhere that you cannot observe them. If we are lucky, and have a small home, they might figure out that the best way to avoid you seeing them potty is by going outside!! In some instances this may work, but often it can be interpreted as purely out of sight, and this can mean in another room, behind a couch, under a table, etc. 

**Is your dog pottying "behind your back"? In a place you cannot see? In another room, or when you are not looking? This is because you have taught them that pottying is an unpleasant thing that you don't want to observe. This means that it will be much harder to teach them where you WANT them to go, as they have associated pottying with a negative element when it's around YOU. 

Alright, so now, let's readdress the toddler pottying on the living room floor. I already know what many of you will say: "why would you let a toddler who is not potty trained, run around your living room without a diaper on!" 
And how right you are! So why would you let an untrained puppy run around in your living room? They are not magically more inclined to understand you than a toddler. They need the same rules and restrictions! 

So now, let's get to the good stuff!
Here's what you should do:
•puppies should have an exercise pen, or area blocked off for them, where they have access to a potty pad in case they need to go when you are not watching them. 
•puppies should be watched when they are roaming ANY area so that you can quickly pick them up and take them outside if they need to potty.
•puppies should have multiple trips outside to the appropriate potty place so that they can learn where they should go. Just like human toddlers, we should encourage and praise them when they go potty in the correct place!
•puppies should understand how to go into, and be left in a crate so that they can start building the muscles involved in bladder control as they grow up.

**you can easily teach your puppy to potty on cue by taking them outside, waiting for them to go, and then naming the behavior "go potty" as they do their business. 

It's time to get over the archaic methodologies used with family dogs. There is no reason for us to treat puppies in such a barbaric and illogical way. 

Let's use common sense to train our dogs. They deserve that much. 

Please comment with questions or concerns about potty training.

Thank you, 

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