Toilet Training 101

This article was published in Bangalore Mirror; Date: Feb 18, 2014; Section: City; Page: 4

Imagine you find yourself in the midst of aliens and you had no idea how to communicate with them… and you have to pee! How do you go about it? You see the aliens pee on some strange structures, but you are not sure — should you or should you not follow their lead? And when you follow their actions, their reactions seem to be arbitrary — sometimes they ignore you, other times they yell at you and at times they even hit you. It seems like you just cannot pee in peace; without the fear of being beaten or yelled at. Bleak? Well, that’s the state your new doggy is in when he comes to your home for the first time. So give your little family member a break! You can toilet-train him and it does not have to involve fear. This, my dear friends, is Toilet Training 101.

Understand that dogs have an inherent preference to pee on porous surfaces. That includes soil, sand, grass and unfortunately, carpets, mattresses and newspapers. Hence, it’s a good idea to dog-proof the house for the first few weeks by removing all porous surfaces off the floor. Roll away the expensive carpets. Time for some cold hard surfaces.

Dogs tend to return to the same spot they have already peed at in the past, using scent to identify the spot. So if your dog pees on a newspaper, use that to your advantage.

Leave the paper there. Praise him every time he returns to the spot to pee on. Then slowly move the paper towards the toilet or balcony or wherever you want doggy to ‘go’.

Predict, to some level of accuracy, when your dog will need to pee. Dogs often need to pee after a good snooze and want to poop after a meal. Pups pee at a certain frequency. A two-month-old puppy is likely to pee every two hours and poop every four hours. A three-month-old pup is likely to pee every three hours and poop every six hours. You get the math, right? Just make visits to the designated area at these predicted intervals.

Here are some tips that worked for me with Nishi. At the predicted intervals, I would go sit in the balcony with her and a good book and just wait it out. Once I waited for two hours and that was it. I never had an accident in my house again. To catch her when she woke up, I put a little bell on her collar. When she peed where she should not, I just soaked up the pee with a newspaper and put it in the designated area to guide her with scent. When she peed in the designated area we had a major ‘Pee Party’ — loud cheering, lots of treats and loads of petting. Nishi was made to feel like she graduated from a top university. To this day, when she pees, she is excessively happy.

But accidents happen. If your dog pees in the wrong place, just understand that the dog just does not know better. Say nothing and clean it up with vinegar. The likes of phenol and dettol do not get rid of the odour, but vinegar neutralises it. No matter what happens, DO NOT punish ‘accidents’.

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