Puppy training should be started as soon as you get them i.e. as early as 7 to 8 weeks of age. We recommend you crate train your puppy to provide it with a safe area that feels secure. You can leave a radio or light on for the puppy when you are not at home. Whilst you’re home, confine the puppy to a small area to begin with, gradually expanding it as the puppy learns not to eliminate in it or destroy things. If you are leaving the puppy for more than 2-3 hours make sure to leave a small area of substrate for toileting such as newspaper or kitty litter. Bedding, water, food and toys should also be provided. Puppies will learn which surfaces or substrates they prefer to toilet on so training them to prefer grass as a toileting area as soon as possible is a good idea.
- Here are some training tips:
- Take the puppy outside every 1 to 2 hours including directly after waking, playing and within 15 to 30 minutes of eating. Watch for signs that the puppy may want to eliminate such as whining, circling, pacing or a sudden cessation of another behaviour. Take them outside quickly if you see these behaviours!
- Choose one or a few preferred toileting areas with the substrate you prefer e.g. a few patches of grass in the yard.
- Stand still, allow the puppy to sniff around on or off the lead. Always supervise the puppy.
- Put some urine or faeces in the preferred toileting areas to enhance their attractiveness.
- Reward the appropriate elimination behaviour with a treat. Praise the puppy as soon as it starts to squat. Teach the puppy some vocal commands.
- Play with the puppy after it has eliminated appropriately.
- Do not punish the puppy for mistakes. A puppy will not understand its mistake by having its nose rubbed in it. Instead startle the puppy with a noise or water pistol if you catch it in the act. Once you have done this take the puppy to a preferred place and reward it for appropriate elimination behaviour.
- Over the counter products are available for odour elimination.
- If the puppy is newspaper toilet trained gradually move the paper towards the door when you are not in attendance. When you are supervising then follow the rules above for training the puppy to eliminate outside.
Older dogs can follow the same principles as puppies. It quite often takes longer as these dogs are relearning elimination behaviours. Identify their preferred substrate preference and avoid or cover this with your preferred substrate where possible. Reward the dog when it squats or eliminates appropriately. If the dog continues to urinate in the wrong spots, consult your vet about underlying physical or medical problems.