Common House Training Mistakes
Mistake #1: One well-known trainer recommends if your dog has an accident in the house, you should bring them back to the accident, show it to them, and scold them. THIS IS WRONG! I can’t believe this kind of advice is still given. Behavioral studies of dogs have PROVEN THAT THIS DOESN’T WORK. Don’t do it. The dog won’t understand why it is being corrected because it is after the fact. And don’t hire a trainer who recommends this approach.
Mistake #2: Another mistake is thinking you will encourage the dog to have more accidents if you let them see you clean up the mess. This is wrong. It won’t change your leadership position with your dog, or harm your relationship with your dog if you clean up the mess in front of them. Leadership and dominance don’t work this way. In fact, did you know the momma dog licks up the urine and feces of the puppies for them? Then, when they are older, around 2 to 3 weeks of age, their instincts take over and they leave the nest ON THEIR OWN and potty away from the den. Wolves, and domestic dogs, NEVER correct the young for pottying in the den. I have also seen adult dogs lick the bottoms of older pups, stimulating the pups to urinate. This has NEVER resulted in the adult dog correcting the puppy. And I have seen puppies urinate and defecate in the home in front of adult dogs, and the adult dogs NEVER correct the puppies for urinating or defecating in the home. Any trainer recommending you clean up in private isn’t worth the money you will spend for their advice.
Mistake #3: After an accident, bring the dog to the potty area outside and tell the dog this is where they are supposed to go. Won’t work. Your dog won’t understand this at all. You are wasting your time, and worrying your dog.
Mistake #4: Clap your hands to startle the dog when it is pottying in the house. If you do this, all you are going to do is make your dog afraid of pottying in front of you, or to run away instead of signaling that they have to potty. Then the dog will start hiding its mistakes and it will be even harder to house train your dog.
Mistake #5: Don’t talk to your dog while it is trying to potty. Supposedly you will disturb the dog and it won’t go. This is doesn’t make sense. Just like in all dog training, there is a way to encourage correct behavior. House training is another lesson you have to teach your dog, and the same principles apply.
Mistake #6: Treat accidents as a challenge to your authority. This is wrong. Accidents aren’t about disobedience, requiring corrections, spanking, time-outs, shaming, yelling or chasing. Do that, and you will wreck your dog. Accidents are about METABOLISM and INSTINCTS. You wouldn’t correct a 6 month old baby for defecating in its diaper, would you? Well, you shouldn’t correct a puppy for defecating in the living room. There is a better way. You could also have a medical problem brewing that has nothing to do with learning. For example, diarrhea isn’t a house training problem, it is a medical problem. It is inappropriate to correct a dog for not feeling well. You should consult your vet if your dog is having diarrhea. It is a dangerous condition and can result in the death of your dog. Another example: Submissive Urination isn’t a house training problem, and is dealt with differently than house training. The same is true with respect to Excitement Urination. In a similar vein, urine marking is different than house training, though it should be discussed as part of a proper house training program.
Mistake #7: Leave the dog in a laundry room, or other small room, while you are away from the home. This might completely sabotage all your house training! You will force your dog to learn to go potty in the house, and violate a dogs natural instincts to be clean in their den (your home). One reason you never want to get a dog from a pet store is because they let the puppies sleep in their own filth. They learn it is OK to live in filth, then they lose their natural inhibition against pottying in their den.
Mistake #8: You can ship your dog off to a Board & Train facility and they will do the house training for you. This won’t work. Here’s what they do. They put your dog in a crate, they take it out, they put it in a crate, they take it out, etc, etc. etc. This doesn’t teach YOU what to do, it doesn’t teach the dog not to potty in the living room or den, and it doesn’t solve issues like Marking or Submissive Urination. If your dog is having accidents in the home, then it is YOUR fault and YOU need to learn what to do to fix it, and YOU need to do the work to solve the problem.
Mistake #9: You can buy those urine-pads at a pet store, and you can use them to paper train your dog. I can’t count the number of times I have seen these silly urine-pads in peoples houses. They don’t work because YOU ARE TEACHING THE DOG TO POTTY IN THE DEN (your home). This will always backfire. The new litter boxes for dogs also usually fail¦ I am not a big fan of them, and they should be used only as a last resort.
Mistake #10: Assuming the dog will potty on YOUR schedule. Puppies will go when they have to go. You can switch to a schedule that is convenient for you, ONLY when your dog is an adult (1 to 2 years old), is housetrained, and s/he can control his/her bladder and bowel movements. I define housetrained as a.) when your dog hasn’t had an accident in the house for 1 year, and b.) your dog can sleep through the night without having to potty.