Nicole Mackie brings an easy method of toilet training, which is sometimes called house, or potty training your dog and can be taught to puppies or dogs of any age. Of course, the sooner the toilet training process is taught, the better for everyone.
You can start this training the moment your puppy or dog comes into your home. When you bring the puppy home, take him straight outside, preferably on a collar or harness and lead. Wait with the puppy until he does the business. Just as the puppy squats, say the word you have chosen for his business such as busy, pee pee, or get going. I will use the word busy as my chosen word here. Say ‘busy good dog busy’ and pat the dog with soft gentle strokes (not hard or fast strokes or slaps as this is stressful for dogs). Make sure the word chosen is the first word you say and also the last word you say i.e.’‘busy’ good dog ‘busy’.
A puppy will need to go every hour or two for those first few months, so there are plenty of opportunities each day to train your puppy to busy when you ask him. The puppy will also need to go soon as he wakes from a sleep, just after exercise or play and after each meal, so these are good times to take the puppy outside to busy. There are also other signs, which may indicate your puppy needs to go out for a busy. The puppy may start to circle in the room or he may start to walk a little faster than usual sniffing the floor. The puppy might even make a little whimper or scratch at the door.
Make sure you take your puppy to busy on a variety of different ground such as grass, concrete, hay, soil, woodchips, etc so that the dog does not begin to think he is only allowed to busy on grass and nowhere else. Dogs who think they cannot busy on other types of ground may hold on all day until they get home to busy only on the ground, which they have been, taught to go on. It is very stressful for dogs to hold on all-day.
If the puppy starts to do busy indoors, firmly but quietly say “no” and take the dog straight to his toilet area. Do not yell or chase him. At this point, it is up to you to be observant of your dog. Any mistakes that are made by them may be due to your not paying attention.
If the puppy does a busy inside the house, when you see him doing it or when it has already been done, just ignore it, accidents do happen. Wait a few minutes, clean it up and be careful to watch out for the signs next time. Do not shout, hit the puppy or rub his/her nose in it. This will only stress the puppy (dogs cannot learn properly when they are stressed) and he is most likely to hide from you the next time he wants a busy.
Your puppy will learn that doing his busy indoors gives no high reward as the puppy is ignored for this behaviour (dogs hate to be ignored thus helps in extinguishing the behaviour). The puppy will learn that doing his busy outdoors gets him a wonderful reward of praise (thus increasing the behaviour). From time to time, give the puppy a treat when you praise him for doing a busy outdoors but not every time. This helps to reinforce the behaviour.
Never rush your puppy or dog in toilet training. Some dogs may learn in days or weeks, yet some may take months depending on the dog and the breed. Every dog learns at a different rate, as every dog is different just like humans are all different. Be patient and calm and your dog will learn in due time.
(Nicole Mackie is a dog-training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker training seminars in New Zealand.)