Hi everyone, welcome back!
How's another week in lock down been for you? I've been getting lots of messages from new dog owners, taking the opportunity to adopt or buy new puppies. It's the perfect opportunity! You have endless time to settle them in and make them part of the family. Just remember a dog is for life, not just to pass the time while in lock down. Do your research and make sure you can give them a life they deserve! So I thought for the next few weeks I would share my tips on puppy training and how to successful integrate a tiny creature into the family. Let's start with our favourite topic, toilet training!
Some people are incredibly lucky and seem to find puppies who are born knowing that they pee outside. Lucky them! Not all of us have this scenario, I know Maggie definitely didn't do that. So here's a method I like to stick to.
· Take your dog out every hour or after a significant event such as eating, drinking, sleeping or play time. This give your dog plenty of opportunity for positive training rather than leaving them to have an accident. The more positive experiences they have, the faster they'll learn!
· Observe their behaviour - if they start to sniff the ground or circle take them outside.
· Try and take them to the same spot every time they go outside for the potty. That association with the same place will help for the positive behaviour to sink in a lot quicker.
· Be boring! This is not play time. Stand and observe, but do not interact with your puppy until they have been to the toilet. Then give them so much praise that they might burst!
· Teaming association and positive training (taking them to the same spot and giving them a treat after they've been to the toilet) will help cement the behaviour. Be careful to start looking for certain behaviours when they start to learn that peeing is for outside i.e going to the back door.
Here are three major mistakes that people make when toilet training their puppy, so read up before you start to make sure you're a pro before you begin;
· Leaving the door open - especially in the Summer months, some dog owners think it is much easier for house training just to leave the door open. By doing this your puppy the becomes reliant on the door being open all the time and that is not fun in November! They haven't learnt to wait. Also, if your puppy is venturing out on their own you aren't observing their behaviour and there isn't any opportunity for positive reinforcement. Remember, dogs learn much quicker with that reassurance from you that they're doing the right thing.
· Not cleaning up accidents properly - I talk about a dog's sense of smell so much! It's fascinating! Some house cleaners cannot mask the smell of urine from your dog's sniffer. Make sure you effectively clean the area so your dog isn't a repeat offender in the same spot. Products that use Ammonia should be avoided too as these replicate the smell of urine for a dog, so basically you're covering the smell of pee with the smell of pee!
· Negative reinforcements - try not to "tell off" your pet. I know this can be frustrating when little Rover has peed in the same spot five times over. Be patient! Punishing your pooch just teaches them to hide what they're doing because they're scared of the big noise you're making by shouting. Try "whoops, never mind," clean up the mess and try again.
· Your crate is too big - crate training can be great for some purposes. It is very rare to see a dog urinated in their own bed, this is their safe place and just like humans they can be very house proud. However if your crate is too big your dog then has a toilet space built into his bedroom, an en suite!
Now you've got the method and what not to do I hope you're feeling ready to tackle toilet training with your brand new puppy. You can teach toileting on cue at the same time as basic toilet training, just add a command word whenever they are about to go to the toilet. So when they look as if they're about to squat or the leg comes up say something like "toilet times" and always give a treat afterwards. It is as simple as that! Make it fun and positive and your puppy will love to pee outside. Join us next week for more puppy training tips!
Until then, keep those tails wagging!
PS - all photos posted with this blog were taken before lock down measures were introduced.