Puppies and adult dogs can make a great addition to any household and with spring upon us, it is an ideal time to get a new dog. If you close your eyes and envision life with a new dog, us dog lovers will most likely see taking walks, going to the beach, throwing balls, cuddle sessions and endless affection and devotion from our pet. Realistically a lot of these visions are accurate, but let’s put some not so fun imagines into the dream- potty training, crate training and chewing on anything and everything. Not all adopted dogs will be 100% trained as they may come from difficult backgrounds or were surrendered because the previous owner did not know how to train them appropriately and therefore gave up on them. Of course, this is not the case for all adopted dogs as dogs that are in foster homes often will be trained before being put up for adoption. If you do adopt a less trained puppy or adult dog these are stages that will most likely need to be addressed. If this is your first dog or it has been many years since you adopted a puppy this training may be a little challenging. Trust me I know how it can be. I have 5 dogs all who come from different backgrounds. Training has been a consistent process in my house for the last couple of years as we have brought new dogs into our family. In this blog, I will pass on my wisdom, techniques and some challenges along the way.
Potty Training 101
Potty training can be the most difficult stepping stone to overcome but can be completed in only a few weeks if done consistently. Puppies can only hold their bladder for an average of 5-6 hours with adult dogs being around 8 hours. However, don’t look at these time frames as when you need to let the dog go outside. Potty breaks should be done every hour. I used to set a reminder on my phone for the top of every hour to get my dog outside to go potty. It is important to take the dog away from other dogs in the household if you have any. Doing this will stop the chance of the other dog(s) trying to get the dog to play and will prevent the new dog from getting distracted from what they really should be focusing on outside which is going potty.
While outside it can be tempting to just let the dog roam especially if you have a fenced in yard, but allowing this will most likely make the time frame of potty training longer. Dogs that are in the potty-training phase should not have free roam outside until they have completely proven that they are trained. By allowing the dog to roam they are learning that outside means play time to explore, run around and chase squirrels. Keeping a 6-foot leash on the dog will allow you to correct them if they lose focus, help direct them to the bushes or grass and allow you to praise them immediately after they have gone. Praising immediately is important as dogs learn best through award training, meaning praising and treats. If you do decide to go with treats only give treats when the dog has done their business. This will be a reward that they will collaborate with going potty.
Potty training doesn’t stop when inside as this is the time to really keep a close watch on the dog. It is ideal to not let them have free roam of the house. Set up gates and close doors. If you are in a room bring the dog with you so you can still keep an eye on the dog for signs of needing to go potty. These signs are usually easy to spot with the dog sniffing the floor or furniture, pacing around, doing circles or looking anxious. These are all common signs that they need to go potty and it is time to take them outside. Do not stay outside with the dog for extended periods of time but allow 10 minutes for them to do their business and if they don’t, come back inside for 10 minutes then try again. Sometimes this will go on for a full hour or more before the dog goes potty, but it is important to be consistent and not get frustrated. Don’t forget the praise and a possible treat when they do go.
If you are unable to take your dog out hourly, then crate training is extremely beneficial with potty training as well as everyday living. The biggest key to crate training is having the right size crate for your dog. Dogs will not go to the bathroom where they lay down. A crate should be just long and wide enough for the dog to turn around but not big enough for them to only use half of the crate for their body. If it is too big then they will use the rest of the crate as a designated potty spot.
There is a debate on this for some scenarios if you know you will be out longer then the dog will most likely be able to hold their bladder. Of course, if you know you will have long days away from your dog hiring a pet sitter to come in and take them out to use the bathroom is the best solution. If you choose to not hire a pet sitter, then a slightly larger crate would be better where you can put down a puppy pee pad. Pee pads already have an attractive smell to them that motivate dogs to use them for potty. There are consequences for puppies with these as they often will chew them up instead. A pee pad holder can help prevent this. The benefits of pee pads mean you can use them even as your dog becomes potty trained by placing them in the house if you are not home to let the dog out.
Crates are also great establishments that your dog can call their own where they can go when they are overwhelmed, eating or at bedtime. To help establish a positive dog to crate relationship crates need to be a positive structure. Food, food and more food are the most successful technique to use.
These strategies will help your dog see their crate as their own safe place. They will be less likely to howl or bark can be put in while traveling at a hotel or families and can help give them a safe place during events. Never use your dog’s crate as a punishment or “time out”. Keep it a positive, safe place for your dog.
I have been lucky with my 2 dogs that had been chewers when we got them. They both transitioned over to Nylabones rather quickly. Don’t get me wrong, we did lose a coffee table and 1 of my husband’s shoes in the process but luckily none of my shoes were destroyed!
Chewing is a natural behavioral for dogs. Dogs chew as a means of cleaning their teeth, soothing toothaches and some just really enjoy it. This behavior is most frequent during the puppy ages while they are teething during the first 4-6 months of age. This is the ideal time to correct bad chewing to positive chewing. My favorite is using Nylabones, not the rubber ones but the Durachews. My parents prefer hard bones. For others, it may be toys that are designed for chewing. Whatever your preference is make sure that you have a few of them throughout the house for easy access. Once you catch the dog chewing they will learn based on what you teach them. Going over to the dog and yelling and spanking is not the way to go about the issue. I understand that you will be angry by them ruining a piece of furniture, shoe, etc. but this will only scare the dog and not help them understand what they did wrong. Now here we go, we just caught the dog chewing, take a breath and get an approved chew toy. Say NO a few times and then give them the approved chew toy and say good boy/girl. The key is for them to learn that they are praised when they have the approved chew toy.
With any dog that chews it is important to keep them in view if you cannot then put them in their crate with the approved chew toy. Quickly the dog will learn to use the approved chew. If they do not, then switch up the toy and try a different one. Not every dog will like the same chewer. You can even intrigue them with a chew toy by putting peanut butter on it or another soft, dog-safe food that can be smeared.
Happy owner, Happy dog
Dogs live for our appraisal. A dog sees its purpose in life to make its owner happy, give them unconditional love, and be a loyal companion. Helping them start off on the right setting as puppies or as soon as older adopted dogs come into your household can help maintain this life they seek. Knowing their manners, duties such as potty outside and house rules will allow the dog to have a happier life and owner. As always it is important to remember that every dog is different in their personalities and come from different backgrounds that may make training easier or more challenging. Seeking professional trainers for those who have not had experience training before or have a more challenging dog will help alleviate stress which a dog will feel and become more relaxed. If your schedule keeps you away long days then with the help of a professional dog sitter your dog will become potty trained quicker, more relaxed at night since they were able to get outside and have some exercise, as well as happier. It has been proven that dogs that are isolated more can be harder to train, rebel and need more attention. Take this into consideration when getting a new dog, and make sure you give your dog the tools he needs to be a good member of your household.