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Elimination Training for Resistant Dogs

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 Dog Behavior Library

Dog Elimination Training

The Basics

Lack of proper housetraining, and subsequent housesoiling, is a common cause for dogs to be surrendered, and eventually euthanized. The procedure is quite simple, once you have the knowledge on how to do it correctly.

Remember - some dogs just take longer than others, since they are all individuals (just like some toddlers potty train quicker than others.)

Acceptance of confinement is an excellent gift to give any dog, and is especially useful during elimination training. Review how to kennel train or use a tether as part of elimination training.

Steps To Canine Elimination Training

  1. Confirm good health with a physical exam by a veterinarian, and lab tests if needed.

  2. Give a high quality "Premium" food on a fixed schedule. Controlled in = controlled out.

  3. Give 3 meals per day until 3 months of age, then 2/day. Pick up food and water two hours before your bedtime until trained. Give the puppy an opportunity to eliminate as the last thing before bedtime.

  4. Use confinement and supervision to prevent indoor elimination. Use a crate, 3 ft. tether or "umbilical cording" (leash the dog to you while indoors when not crated or tied).

  5. Know when the last elimination occurred. Anticipate elimination shortly after waking, play, excitement, sniffing, and meals. Dr. D. Fetco says: puppies can hold their urine approximately 1 hour more than their age in months; e.g., a 3-month pup can hold urine 4 hours, a 5-month pup can hold urine 6 hours, etc.

  6. Define, for all family, a proper "Doggy Toilet Area" on your property. Usually 8 X 8 feet.

  7. Take the puppy outside hourly the first day, then every 3-4 hours when you're home.

  8. Go out with your dog to backyard toilet area. Use a leash at first to keep him in the toilet area.

  9. Say, "Get busy!" repeatedly until any elimination. Praise and treat afterward.

  10. After successful elimination, allow freedom for gradually-increasing periods of time. The dog should begin to think the way to get freedom and treats is to deposit there.

  11. Take plastic bags to parks, and on walks. Give the "Get busy!" Instruction when any elimination posture begins. Be responsible for fecal clean-up.

  12. Don't physically punish accidents, since you will want the dog to eliminate in your presence in the future. Verbal scolding is OK. Accidents indicate more confinement and that the owner needs to pay more attention to this process.

  13. Use an odor neutralizer product on accidents (available at any pet store).

  14. Give a BIG reward for proper elimination.

If you must leave the dog along for longer periods, do not use the kennel, but instead use a small room like a laundry room or kitchen. Use baby gates to keep the dog confined. Move the kennel and bed, chewtoy and water on one end, and put thicknesses of newspaper on the floor on the far other end. Don't praise the dog for using the paper unless you intend to "paper train" long term. Just take the dog out to the toilet area before any greeting.

Don't let the dog watch you clean up any indoor accident. Some say if the pet sees you paying attention to their contribution, they may want to do it for you again. Do let your dog see you cleaning up the defined toilet area, since this increases the likelihood of eliminating there.

Remember - some dogs just take longer than others, since they are all individuals (Just like some toddlers potty train quicker than others). If not fully housetrained within 30 days, seek a behavioral consultation.

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