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Thread: toilet training advice

  1. #1
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    Default toilet training advice

    Hi,

    I know this topic has probably been covered a lot on here, and I've done some searching and reading of threads which has told me mostly what I already know.

    My pup is 11 weeks old and will be mostly an inside dog. I started by trying to teach him to go in a litter box, but it became apparent pretty quickly that he didn't like using it and I established that it was perhaps a bit small, so I ditched the litter box and have a larger area of paper for him to go. Unless he is shut in the room with the paper he won't go to it to do his business, he just stops where he is and pees/poos. I figured perhaps his paper toilet area is too far away when he's out in the house with us, so I have been taking him outside during the day.

    I am clicker training him, so I have been using the clicker to reward him when he goes outside and give him a treat and a pat, though I find if I touch him or get too excited while he's going he gets distracted and stops. So I'm using the clicker while he's going and feed him a treat and then give him pats after he's done. I take him out after every nap, after he's had a drink(unless he's just peed) or eaten, but he still goes inside several times a day, a lot of the time I don't see him do it, he'll be behind the coffee table or behind the couch(not in hidden spots, just where I happen to not be able to see him from where I am), or do a little pee on the way over to the water bowl so I think he's just going for a drink. I'm usually pretty observant and the slightest hint that I think he needs to go I'll take him outside, but if he doesn't go after 10-15mins, I'll let him back inside thinking he might've just smelt the ground because it smelt interesting.. then a few minutes later he'll pee somewhere >_< I've tried taking him out on a lead so I can stop him going on the path to pee(he only does this sometimes, and I usually just let him wander and find his own spot), but he usually just becomes obsessed with getting to the concrete simply because he's discovered that he can't, and then starts whining and just isn't interested in going to the toilet.

    What I'm wondering is, is there a way to encourage him to let me know when he wants to go? He doesn't whine or go to the door or anything, he just wanders around and goes where ever. I encourage him to stay on his bed at my feet when I'm in the living area, he has toys to play with on his bed. Every time he wanders off his bed I watch him and encourage him to come back to his bed. Sometimes he's just going to get a drink, other times it's because my cat is around and he wants to play or go and sniff him. I find it difficult to tell when he's going to pee though, he doesn't really sniff around too much or do circles, a lot of the time he might sniff the ground once and then goes straight away or stops mid-walk and pees, so I don't get enough warning to scoop him up and go outside. If he needs to poop it's a lot easier to tell because he'll sniff around a lot more, do circles and quite often his back arches a little while he's sniffing around deciding where to go and I can recognise this body language and quickly run over and grab him.. quite often I grab him in the process and get him outside before it drops, lol.

    When I'm home I manage to minimise his accidents inside to about 2 per day. But I don't think my partner is as vigilant as me, he's more happy to just let him wander around while he's sitting on his computer and just cleans up the accidents later when he finds them. We both ignore the puppy when he goes inside and clean it up, and my partner does take him outside sometimes, but I get the impression it's not as often as I do, and he probably gives up more easily if he doesn't go when he takes him outside.

    I crate him at night and he's been really good for the last week or so, I take him out to pee before I go to bed, and usually only need to get up at about 5-6am to take him in the morning, except I usually take him to his paper area when I have to get up at night, rather than going outside. Last night I had to get up in the middle of the night to take him to pee, I don't know what time it was, but it was dark. Then when I got him out of his crate this morning, his belly was wet and his bedding was wet, but neither him nor his bedding smelt like urine.. so I don't know what happened. Sometimes he chews on his bedding, but I wouldn't think this would cause it to be wet. I do have a hot water bottle in his crate under his bedding, but it wasn't leaking as far as I could tell. Should I wash his bedding just to be safe? Although, he has just puked on my lap. Could he have done a saliva puke during the night? I gave him a raw chicken wing yesterday and he crunched up the bones and ate most of it.. I was thinking perhaps this might be why he was puking, but upon inspection, it appears to be mostly hair(mine) and small bits of sugar cane mulch. He chews on the sugar cane mulch a little bit when he's running around the garden, but the bits are only tiny and I doubt that's why he puked, I'm thinking it's more due to the hair. My cat has issues with my hair as well (I molt like crazy).

    But at any rate, I don't feel like he's connecting outside or paper with the appropriate place to go to the toilet, and he's certainly not making any effort to get there or let us know when he needs to go (he whines when he's in his crate but not otherwise). I know he's still young, but at what age should I expect to see good progress with toilet training, at this stage I feel like we're getting nowhere.

  2. #2
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    He's a puppy. He's unlikely to know when he needs to pee.

    If you don't see him pee outside - he didn't pee.

    If he has a drink just after a pee, he will still need to pee.

    He's a boy dog - they can pee a lot or a little and often.

    Puppies will pee from excitement.

    I didn't have great pee toilet training until mine was about 14 to 18 weeks old. Any time her nose when down to sniff inside - I'd take her straight outside. Especially if it was somewhere "out of the way" like along the wall and behind furniture.

    Why are you trying to train pee on paper? If you really want this, you're going to need to hold your dog over the paper and reward for going there. And you might want to keep your dog on lead for outside pees for a while too. Just so you can be absolutely sure the deed has been done and later if you do car trips with him, this will be very useful.

    I got my hair cut short, there's much less of it and it doesn't clag up the brush head of the vaccuum cleaner any more. I guess you're going to have to check for "dust bunnies" and make sure they're all cleaned up. Puppies will seek out your smell. You may have already found you need to hide the shoes, sox and undies - definitely put these where the puppy cannot access them - up high, shut door.

    Have you tried the umbilical cord system? Keeping a lead on him attached to you all the time, and a very set routine of outside, supervised pee, lots of reward for going outside eg every 15 minutes if necessary.

    For inside - given he does ambush you a bit, have an old towel handy and scoop him up with that the second you see his nose go down, and take him outside mid pee if you have to. Puppies don't like to be interrupted so he might learn that peeing inside will get him interrupted. Just grab him quick and quiet, otherwise he may also learn that if he hides he doesn't get interrupted. So then you know to grab him for outside the second he starts heading for somewhere out of sight.

    Clean up - avoid bleach. Use bicarb soda and white vinegar. And maybe a teaspoon of lavendar oil in a mister bottle with a litre of water. Ammonia based product encourage more peeing on that spot.

    It is possible to teach a dog to ring a bell by the back door. I taught mine to sit and bark. And then I open the door for her. So she understands the connection.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Hyacinth.

    I am going to suggest the umbilical method for my partner since he doesn't keep such a close eye on him. I do always supervise the toileting outside and watch closely for when he goes and always reward him, but I find he's happier if I let him wander to find somewhere to pee, my entire yard is garden so it doesn't really bother me where he goes, except not on the paths. I will try getting him used to being on lead when he goes though, just so it's not weird for him, and as you pointed out, might be useful later on for outings. And I will try waiting outside until he goes every time rather than assuming he doesn't need to go after a while.

    The reason I am also teaching paper, is because I leave him inside when no one's home, and he needs somewhere to go. It's also more convenient to take him there in the middle of the night. He will use the paper if he's in that room, but he won't seek out that room to go if he's somewhere else. Once he's able to hold his bladder, I will probably just get him going outside. Hopefully he will develop some way of letting me know as he progresses.. I might try the bell at the door and see how we go.

    If I see his nose go to the floor I try and startle him by making a noise or clapping and encourage him to come to me, usually he does if he's just wandered off to explore, but if he doesn't and keeps trying to sniff or doesn't seem interested, then I continue to try and distract him while I quickly go over and take him outside. Sometimes I'm just not quick enough(if I'm in the middle of eating or something and I can't just throw my plate somewhere) or he's not displaying any behaviour that indicates he's about to. I'll try and work on my partner to take him outside more often.

    I tried using a diluted vinegar solution to clean up, but it didn't seem to do anything so I bought some urine specific cleaner. I've gone and mopped all the floors today, hopefully that will help.

    Thanks again, good to know that I'm not failing miserably and he's still lacking control. I'll keep at it until he gets it I just wasn't sure if I was supposed to be seeing any progress yet.

  4. #4

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    is your yard secure? if so, maybe install a doggy door rather than the paper idea. doggy doors make life easy

  5. #5
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    We have a little rescue dog here, she is 12 months old.
    I took K&Ps advice and gave her shut down time in her own room for the first week.
    The first night she pooped on the carpet and was very fearful when I came in and found it.
    I did not reprimand her as it was my fault anyway.
    We made her a litter box with cat litter in it and put one of her poops in there.
    When she went in to sniff the poop we praised her, and before bedtime I would stand her in the box,
    she did not pee on command but she made the connection.
    After day 2 she always used the litter box even though I took her out for walkies 3 or 4 times a day.

  6. #6
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    I have an indoor cat, so a doggy door wouldn't really work for me. I do try and take him out very often when I'm home. If I need to wait until he does something before bringing him back inside, then I may as well get some weeding in while I keep an eye on him

    I've made a few suggestions for my partner to try that might work better for him (he doesn't have as much patience as me for continuously watching the puppy). I suggested that he might try crating the puppy with him on the couch so he can take his eyes off him and he's less likely to pee, but I said to make sure he takes him outside more often to pee if he's going to do that, and make sure he takes him for a drink as well and reward the puppy for being quiet in the crate. (this is only for a couple of hours until I get home from work). I'm hoping he'll give him a good play and run around at some point too so he's not so full of energy when I get home.

    I'm home most of the day so I can make sure he gets to run around outside and inside and plays and give him training sessions and keep a close eye on when he needs to pee.

    If I can convince my partner to be a bit more vigilant with regards to taking him outside, then I think we can avoid 90% of accidents inside.

  7. #7

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    When Jack was a pup i would just take him outside every so often(can't remember now whether it was every 30mins or quite what) and wait until he went and praise him for doing it. Soon enough he would go to the door and sit and wait for me to let him out. He still had the odd accident but it was always my fault when that happened.

  8. #8
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    hi Blackthorn

    With hubby - I think two things in combination might help.

    1. Crate the puppy when hubby is not able to pay full time attention (eg tv or computer time or cooking - whatever).

    2. Set an alarm for every 30 minutes maybe, and take the puppy out and supervise the pee. Be boring (weeding is good except my puppy / dog likes to help), until the deed is done. Beware of puppy training you eg being "quicker" if let off lead - true but who is doing the training here?

    Pay attention - maybe even write it down - how long between pees - ie if dog can last 30 mins no problem maybe add 5 minutes to the timer, if there is an accident - think about what happened preceding it (waking up, play, dinner, drink, long time since last time went out) and decide if you need to shorten up the time, or make sure you go out after one of the likely trigger events.

    Eg greeting new people - should always be done out side if the puppy pees from excitement. Ie get them to wait until you have the dog outside before they come to the door or greet the dog.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the ideas

    My partner brought up a point yesterday and was his reasoning for not crating the puppy while he was at home doing things (there were lots of accidents). He said if the puppy only ever goes outside, how is it to learn if it's got nothing to compare it to? As in if it never goes inside to discover that there's no reward for doing so, how will it know that inside is not the place to go, or that outside is so much better? Anyone got some counter logic for this?

    I have soaked the common areas that he goes inside with a dog urine cleaner and followed the instructions for use, and gave the floors a good general clean yesterday, and I noticed he's still going in the same spots... does this mean the cleaner isn't working?

  10. #10
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    Yes, I do! A dog doesn't pee just for a reward. It is probably kind of self-rewarding in a minor way. You want to avoid accidents inside as much as you can so they don't become a habit. If he never goes inside (and forgets he ever did), he will just not consider it an option and make a very strong pee = outside association. You really don't want to count on a pup having the mental capacity to make the comparison your partner suggests. This kind of learning is very straightforward conditioning. Comparing is a much more complex mechanism and I think your partner is anthropomorphising (that is a ludicrously long word!), ie. attributing human characteristics (in this case logical reasoning) to the dog.

    That's just my 2c worth...

    They say it takes 28 days to form the brain connections necessary to form a habit in humans. I reckon it is quite a bit less in dogs and even less in pups. But the key is consistency. As long as he thinks he has a choice: go outside and get a reward or go where he wants to go inside, he will just choose depending on his mood. And in such a young pup, the anticipation of a treat doesn't probably feature very strongly in his mind. I think the key is that evey time you take him outside, you have to stay until he does his business. Then go nuts after he has finished. It is very useful to use a word too. When I toilet trained my dog I watched where she preferred to go when we were spending time outside and then took her on a leash to that area when I took her outside at night (she was older and only went inside at night by then). I would just turn away from her and stare into the distance watching her from the corner of my eye until she went. Then jumped up and down and gave her a treat and lots of pats before I took her back inside. I know some recommend having a play outside afterwards too, but I never did that because I didn't want her to ask to go outside just to have a ball game in the middle of the night.

    Asking to go outside is a step further though. I still always leave the back door ajar for my dog. When we move into our new house, we will have a dog door. If I couldn't offer her free access to the yard, I would have taught her to ring a bell at the door or something because otherwise I might easily miss her asking to go out.
    Last edited by Beloz; 03-06-2012 at 11:23 AM.

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