Dealing with Pet Potty Mishaps
Dealing with Mishaps in Puppy Potty Training
When your dog or puppy has potty mistakes, corrective measures are in order. Discipline for potty mishaps is necessary when it comes to training your puppy to go in the right places and not to go in the wrong ones.
There are a number of ways to ‘correct’ the inappropriate behavior – first, reward them when they do it right and second, dissuade them when they do it wrong. You should never lose your temper when training your puppy. Using simple, consistent and short phrased commands, generally one or two words, such as “NO” or “NO Potty” is the ideal approach and easiest for dogs to recognize and remember.
The most up-to-date research indicates that mistakes in the house are best ignored. The most that can effectively be done in terms of "correction" must occur when you catch your puppy in the act as opposed to post mistake punishemnts. When catching your puppy in the "act" you can resort to your one word commands (i.e. ‘NO’) and then immediately take your puppy to the appropriate location. The risk with this situation however, if not done correctly, is that the puppy will be trained to avoid going potty while you are watching having not made the connection between where they are going and your disapproval, but only between the fact that they were going and you disapproved. It is therefore best to simply ignore the fact that they went in the wrong area and be more diligent next time.
If you catch them in the act, and abruptly stop and relocate them, (without the correction command) you can avoid the misunderstanding because you still have the opportunity to cheer for them once they go. This way, they still have a positive association with going potty and are OK with you seeing that they have gone or are going.
It is in light of this situation that it can be advantageous to have multiple puppy potty patches. While ultimately you will want to train your puppy to go in the same area, in the beginning, prior to them understanding that one place is the best place, you can use multiple pads. At this point it appears that both the location and the pad are important when helping dogs understand where to go but the grass patch is equally a benefit to the owner as it is the dog.
Rubbing your dogs nose in soiled areas or smacking your puppy are both ineffective training practices. Puppies and older dogs alike are not like sophisticated humans. They will not make the connection between the smack or nose rubbing and the potty. They will only make the connection between you and the punishment thus creating in them a fear of you and confusion as regards to the punishment.
Using a crate with your puppy potty patch can often times be a great tool. This is particularly helpful when you cannot dedicate your full attention to the puppy. This helps to build an association with the use of the pad by placing it in the crate. What is critically important here is that you only use this method if you cannot watch the puppy or they seem to be taking a very long time to go. You need to make sure you let the puppy out as soon as they have gone potty so they do not become comfortable with being around their potty. This fact is even more important if they are going to live in your house because if your house is their house and going potty in their house is OK, going potty in your house is OK – obviously an association we do not want to create.
Examples of rewarding a well-placed potty include cheering, smiling, clapping, giving a treat etc. Some methods of dissuading would be saying “NO,” shaking something like a jar of pennies that makes an unpleasant noise (this is good when you catch them in the act) or smacking your hands together loudly when you see them going in the wrong place.
Of course as previously indicated these methods are most effective while the dog or puppy are about to go! If they have already gone in the wrong place they are not very likely to have remembered that they are the ones who went there – so bringing them to their potty and trying to get them to make the association between your disapproval and the waste on your carpet is not likely to result in anything beneficial.
Getting aggressive or angry over mistakes can, and likely will, cause your puppy to become frightened, confused and potentially soil again during your reprimand. Again, it will require patience to train your new friend - If they look at you like they have no idea what you want because you are so angry, chances are they have no idea what you want or why you’re so angry!