It is essential to housebreak a dog as soon as it arrives in our home, not only for obvious reasons of hygiene, but also to facilitate its harmonious integration into the social group.
Take the time to do things right
In order to teach a dog to relieve itself outdoors, it is important to follow certain steps and be patient, as not all dogs learn at the same pace. Some dogs may have difficulty becoming housebroken due to inadequate training, bad habits, lack of restraint, or other reasons.
However, trying to speed up the learning process can lead owners to make mistakes, get upset and even inadvertently reinforce incontinence in their dog.
Take the example of a dog who has difficulty holding himself. Scolding him several hours after his accident or forcing him to smell or touch his own 'mess' with his nose will do nothing to speed up his potty training, but may actually make it more difficult.
Mistakes to avoid at all costs
Here are the practices to avoid at all costs:
- Reprimanding your dog after the fact for something you did while you were away: Your dog lives in the moment and will not understand why he is being punished for it. He may see you as unreliable.
- Putting your dog's nose in its mess: This technique is humiliating and ineffective. It may even encourage dogs to eat their own faeces to avoid leaving traces.
- Using bleach to clean: the smell of bleach is very similar to that of urine for dogs. Cleaning with bleach would be like leaving a new scent message that your dog will be happy to add his own message to.
- Cleaning in front of your dog: It is best to isolate your dog while you are cleaning, as he may interpret this as a game.
Steps to follow when potty training a puppy
Now that you know what to avoid at all costs, let's find out what you can do to give yourself and your dog the best chance of success in getting him clean:
- Keep an eye on your dog and only intervene if it is caught in the act.
- If you catch him doing his business indoors, firmly say "no" and then take him outside immediately.
- If your dog finishes his business outside, reward him warmly.
It's important to consistently reward your dog with a high-pitched voice and positive encouragement, such as "that's good!" or "yay!", every time he does his business outside, whether in the garden or on a walk. Don't be afraid to look a little silly, as this reinforces your dog's good behaviour at every opportunity.
Always remember that reinforcing good behaviour is always more productive and effective in the long run than punishing undesirable behaviour.
If you live on the fifth floor of a building, potty training may be more difficult. However, it is important to take your dog/puppy out regularly, especially when he is most likely to want to relieve himself:
- when he wakes up,
- after meals,
- after a period of activity (playing, petting, etc.).
Additional tips for successfully potty training your dog/puppy
Here are a few more tips to make potty training your dog/puppy easier:
- For puppies, you can stimulate them by gently massaging their tummies when you are in your garden.
- To encourage your dog to relieve itself in a particular area of your garden, you can leave a few drops of bleach there.
- If your dog tends to relieve itself in the same place, you can use a special dog repellent on that area.
- Finally, if you live in the country, it is not recommended that you allow your dog free access to the outdoors, as this may encourage him to relieve himself outside without learning to restrain himself if you ever have to leave him alone at home.
When should you worry about your dog's incontinence?
Many dog owners are concerned about their pet's incontinence. However, this concern is often unfounded, especially if the dog is not yet six months old and may not yet have the physical ability to hold it in.
However, if you have diligently tried all the appropriate training methods and your dog continues to have accidents indoors, it may be time to ask yourself some questions:
- Could your dog have a health problem, especially kidney problems? Do not hesitate to consult your vet to rule out any illnesses that may be physically preventing your dog from restraining himself.
- Do the accidents happen in your absence or in your presence? If the accidents happen in your absence, it may be necessary to explore the anxiety or frustration side of things further. If the accidents happen in front of you, there may be a need to review the initial learning or there may be a health issue.
- Have you followed all the right steps and attitudes to potty train your dog? Sometimes it only takes one mistake to send a mixed message to your dog and jeopardise the entire training process.
- Is your dog left indoors for too long without the opportunity to relieve itself outside?
There are many questions to ask and a dog training and behaviour professional can help you find the answers. They will be able to adapt to your situation, your environment and your dog, as each situation has its own solution.
Although there are universal solutions and techniques, the most important thing in dog training, whether it is housebreaking or other aspects, is to adapt to each individual dog.