Many of us have no trouble teaching our dogs to not go to the bathroom in the house, it’s “dog 101.” However, many of us live in places where we need our dog to not just go “outside,” but in a certain area, for example the lawn instead of the garden. Or, you may need your dog to go in a litter box or a grass pad on a patio.
While this may seem like a hard thing to train, with a little dedication and patience, it’s not too difficult. In fact, you may be surprised at how simple it is.
Step 1: Pick the Spot
It is best if you pick the spot BEFORE you bring your puppy home. If you have had your dog for years and have recently landscaped the yard, you can still do this, but it may take longer and be a little bit more challenging.
Once you pick the spot, don’t change it! This will confuse your dog and slow down your process. Make sure everyone in the house is fine with the area that is picked.
Step 2: Prep the area
Save some of your dog’s poops and put them in that area. Dogs are more likely to go where it smells like “potty.”
If you know your dog prefers a certain surface (grass, soft dirt, etc), make sure that is available in the area you have chosen.
If you have a male dog, be sure to have things he can lift his leg on – tree, shrub, fake hydrant, etc.
Make sure you have easy and quick access to get to the area from the house or the rest of the yard. That way, when you are rushing to make it there before your dog has an accident, you don’t trip over something or get slowed down enough that your dog “goes” before she should.
Step 3: Management
Until your dog has learned where to do his business, make sure you are managing him and setting him up for success.
- Block off the areas you do not want your dog to go and do his business in
- When you are not able to watch him, have him in his crate so he can’t have an accident
- Keep him on leash (like you would a puppy you are housetraining)
- Remember the rules of potty training – take him out after meals, after a nap, and after play
Step 4: Ignore the Bad, Reward the Good
If you correct your dog for going in the wrong spot, your dog will just learn to hide his business from you. It won’t teach him WHERE you want him to go. Instead, you need to watch your dog and make sure you have him in the area you want him to go when you think he is going to go.
Then, when he does his business where you want him to, REWARD, REWARD, REWARD. Praise him, give him treats, play with him – whatever he loves. This will make him more likely to go in that spot.
If he starts to go in the wrong area and you happen to see it, just walk him over to the right area.
Step 5: Expand Freedom
As your dog becomes more successful at going where you want him to, slowly give him more options (i.e. unblock part of the yard or porch) and see if he still makes the right choice. If not, it just means he is still confused and block that part of the yard back off. BE PATIENT! Every dog, just like people, learns at their own pace. Some dogs will get this in a week, others it may take a month. But they will get it.
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