Among a host of other issues, Dudley didn’t toilet train as quickly as I thought he might have. This was disappointing and somewhat embarrassing when people came to visit as this was bread and butter stuff in guide dogs. So it got me thinking on the best toilet training tips for dogs.
We used to have the guide dog pups weeing on command after a few weeks. The trigger words were usually busy-busy or quick-quick. Now it wasn’t like you said these words and wee came out of the dog but he’d understand that it was probably a good time to go, should he want to, and they usually did.
The public thought this was pretty incredible but it was all down to the puppy raisers, the brilliant families that looked after the pup for the first 12-15months or so. They essentially brought the dog out to the toilet every hour on the hour. He was lavishly praised an often food rewarded for going outside but got nothing for going inside. Little piggies work out what’s better very quickly. You never admonish a pup for weeing inside, it’s your fault, not theirs.
Couple this with bringing him out any time he does anything – wakes from a nap, every time you reunited (even if just because you nipped up the stairs without him, you coming back into the room is terribly exciting), you play a game, he drinks some water, etc, and your dog simply doesn’t have time to wee inside.
This is the ideal world and few of us are living it. Guide Dogs carefully selects families that can bestow this much attention on the dog in the first few weeks. Not all of us fit this mould, me included. Add to this Dudley’s inability to learn anything of any use in any situation ever and you can have a recipe for disaster.
So here’s 5 great toilet training tips for dogs to consider regarding toilet training. If you guys have any more, lets hear them!!!!
1. Feed Raw Dog Food
Dry food is in the very minimum 1% salt. The same salt content as salted peanuts and seawater. It makes dogs eat it. Sadly, when they do, they drink buckets of water. This means dry fed dogs pee a lot (and have rotten kidneys and dry coats). This makes it harder for them to go any length of time without having to go, making them harder to toilet train. Feed your pup fresh food and you’ll “slash” wee output considerably.
2. Take the First Two Weeks Off Work
New pups need lots of guidance. Don’t wait until they do something wrong. If you’re getting a pup the first two weeks are critical. Be there pretty much 24/7. Bring him out every hour if possible. Set an alarm if necessary. Also any time he wakes up, finishes a game, has a drink, bite to eat, gets up, turns left etc etc!! When he goes outside praise lavishly. Food reward initially. Best to have him on lead for the first week or two which has the added benefit of you teaching him WHERE you’d like him to go. Eventually when off lean he only gets that bit of sausage when he goes there!
3. Crate Train Them!
It’s not a cage. It’s a crate! Dudley love’s his. It’s a safe little den. You pop in a rag that smells of his litter, maybe a ticking clock under a pillow (mothers heart beat, not sure if works or not), maybe even a hot water bottle and close him in at nighttime. Dog’s won’t wee or poo their beds too quickly. You can have the pup in your room for the first days of settling in, moving him further and further out of the room, down the hall, into the kitchen. It goes in the car, it’s handy on holidays, when someone is minding him etc. Remember, crate, not cage!!
4. Get a Bell!
For all the times you don’t see the signals that he needs to go, think about a bell. Your options include tying a bell on a string and hanging it from the back door at nose height. Put a little peanut butter on it. When he licks it off and it rings you say Goooood booyyyy, open the door and hoosh him out. Repeat repeat repeat. Any interest in that bell at all and it opens. OR pick up the little paw door bell thing (attached), great idea. Easiest way to teach them to press it is with a clicker. Youtube is full of how to use these things properly. They’re brilliant for teaching the dogs the finer tricks. Here’s a nice little vid of how to get a dog to ring a bell!
5. Training Mats
I’m not a big fan but shit happens! We once came back from a night out and Dudley had had diarrhoea. Poor little man. Right by the back door. It was toxic and sadly had flowed via the joints in the tiles under the presses and fridges so we had to spend the next hour with toothpicks and toothbrushes getting it all up. Not the ideal way to end a lovely evening and it was really hard to get my toothbrush clean enough afterwards to use again. Training mats avoid all this. It’s a little pad / towel thing which you place by the back door. They will target those rather than the floor eventually. Some even have a latrine smell that dogs can detect, encouraging them to target it.
I remember one puppy raiser used to clip the size of these training mats down over time until eventually the dog was pooing on a piece of paper the size of a single piece of kitchen towel, which he then started to use on walks etc, such was his loathing of handling fresh heaps. You have to wonder sometimes…!!