Potty training must have guide!

Do you have an exciting new puppy but you’re not sure where to start with potty training!? This guide is for you and is basically fool proof when followed correctly and consistently!(This guide will also work for an older dog that is still having accidents in the house.)

Things you will need for successful potty training:

A nylon leash (not retractable)
A crate
A potty bell (can be bought at a pet store or you can use a string with a normal bell)

The potty training and really puppy training in general starts with umbilical cord training, which means having your dog on a leash attached to you at all times for a couple weeks when she is not crated. The reasoning behind this is if your dog is constantly with you they won’t be able to get into trouble. I would recommend having them drag the leash around as the second phase of the umbilical cord training. This way you can administer a little leash correction if needed. Some examples of when a leash correction would be need is:

-chewing on baseboards
-play biting
-jumping up on guests

You will also need PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY. Everyone in the house must be working as a team towards the same goal. Potty training the puppy! At times this can be frustrating but it is worth it!

You will want to monitor your puppies food and water. What goes in must come out, so if you know when your dog is eating/drinking you know they will need to go outside give or take 15 minutes. Also, cutting off your dogs food/water at 6:00 PM will help them to sleep through the night!

A general rule of thumb is that however many months old your puppy is she should be able to hold her bladder for an hour per month. Ex: 4 months – 4 hours and so on.

Now the good stuff! If you follow this guide your puppy should be potty trained within a week or two.

First, you will need to choose a door that you will primarily be taking your puppy outside from. For instance your back door. You will want to hang your potty bell either on the door handle or on a command strip right by the door. If you use your back door frequently I recommend putting the bell on a hook by the door so that your dog doesn’t become desensitized to the bell. Every time you take your puppy outside to potty YOU will ring this bell. This will work by Pavlovian law. She will soon learn that for the door to open for her to be let outside she will need to learn to ring this bell on her own.

Before you take her outside put on her leash. Once her leash is on, take her to the designated “Potty door”, ring the bell and walk her to a specific potty area. Give her a minute and thirty seconds to potty. Once she starts to pee/poop mark the behavior with a word. I typically say “Good girl, good potty.” (Careful not to startle her by being TOO excited or she may become scared to pee/poop in front of you.)

Now, the last step, whether she goes potty or not is to crate her for 15 minutes once you come inside. After the 15 minutes is up repeat the process of taking her outside. (We do this because as a puppy even if she went potty outside the first time she may have gotten distracted and not gotten it all out.) Now, if she doesn’t potty the second time but did the first time or if she went potty both times she can have some supervised play time. If she did not go potty the first or second time you took her out, crate her again, after the 15 minutes in the crate is up, take her back outside and repeat the cycle until she goes potty outside.


Intro to Puppy Training

So you have added a new addition to your family! Congrats! More than likely you have questions. Well, I’m here to help! Here’s an intro to puppy training. Just for you!

First, you must teach your dog that you are a fair and consistent leader. Being a fair and consistent leader means not only telling your dog when he is doing something wrong but also when he is doing something right! Think of it this way, if all we do is correct our dog he will learn that to get our attention he must first act out by doing an unwanted behavior. You must be able to correct your dog as well as praise him. (Be sure to read previous blog “Consistency is Key”.)

Ex. Your dog is chewing on a sock, you must tell him “Off” and then tell him “Good boy, good off.” You must reward the correct behavior as well as correct the unwanted behavior. You have about one second to praise or correct your dog. (You can also redirect this behavior by giving him something he IS able to play with.)

Now, there are three ways that we unknowingly praise our dogs. I will list the ways we do this:

1. Touching with the palm of our hand

When we touch our dog with the palm of our hand we are touching him with a highly scented part of our body. If your dog is jumping up on you or your furniture, move them away with the back of your hand.

2. Eye contact

When we make eye contact with our dog we are providing him with attention whether we’re mad or happy attention is still attention. Avoid making eye contact when your dog is displaying an unwanted behavior.

3. Saying his name

When we say Spot’s name we are also offering him attention. If we need to give a correction don’t say his name. If you have to use a filler say “Puppy, off!” Dogs love hearing their names, save his name for when he is offering an acceptable behavior!

Another good rule of thumb will be to have your dog crated or gated off in a certain area if you will not be able to supervise him. When you are able to supervise it will be best for you to set up a potty training plan and have him constantly tied to you when you are doing things around your house. This way he isn’t able to get your favorite pair of shoes or and electric cable. This is called umbilical cord training and will save you many headaches. You will have a little shadow for a week or so until he’s potty trained but it’s worth it. Having his leash on at all times will also allow you to offer a leash correction if needed. (If you need guidance on crate training read my blog “Crate training 101”.)

You will also want to know the difference between “No” and “Off”.

“No” is a correction, which is typically followed by another command.

Example: “Spot, sit.” He doesn’t sit the first time so you say “No,” and repeat the command “Sit.” You can also do a leash correction with the “No”. If you’re going to use “No” as a correction you should also have a reward marker such as “Yes!”, to let your dog know when he’s doing something correct.

“Off” is not a correction it is a command. “Off” just means you don’t have to do any other behavior but STOP whatever it is that you’re doing.

Example: Spot is nipping at your hand. You say “Off.” you can also provide an instantaneous correction in this case a leash pop to make the command more effective. You can also redirect his behavior and provide an acceptable chew toy.

Good luck with your new fur babe! If you have any questions or need a customized potty training plan, you can e-mail me directly at rebekah@steadfastdogtraining.com or leave a comment with any inquiries!

Introduction to training tools

There are many tools used in training our dogs. Some of which many of us are already using now. Here is a list of a few examples of tools you are probably already using on a daily basis:

– Voice
– Treats
– Leash
– Praise (Petting and Verbal)

However, sometimes these tools are just not enough. That is when many people seek professional guidance. Many times as a trainer I hear “My dog is awesome at home when I have a treat, but if we leave the house all bets are off.”

The training that I do first and foremost involves a lot of attention exercises. If you do not have your dogs attention you essentially have nothing at all.

Now, the first thing we must remember is all behavioral modification training is negative for our dog. How? Well, your dog loves chasing cats and this is something most dogs are instinctively wired to do. Therefore, us correcting this behavior in whatever method you choose fit for your dog is altering your dogs genetic desire to chase cats. Even if your reasoning for not letting him chase cats is because you live on a busy street and don’t want him to get hit by a car because he randomly bolted into the road trying to catch the beloved neighborhood cat.

Some other training tools that can be used for more advanced obedience and can very useful when implemented correctly in training dogs are:

– E-collars (Contrary to popular belief not SHOCK collars)
– Prong collars
– Place board

I will go into detail further about each of the tools listed above.

Voice: Our voice is used in training to let our dog know when they are doing something right. Ex. “Yes” which is a reward marker and can take place of a clicker.
Our voice can also be used to tell our dog when they are doing something wrong
EX. “No” indicates that what your dog is doing is not the desired behavior.

Leash: Leashes are used to offer our dogs guidance.

Treats/Praise: Treats and our praise can be used as positive reinforcement. Our dog learns to display a certain behavior in order to receive a reward. In this case food. You must figure out the currency of certain treats for your dog. Sometimes your dog will work for kibble or praise but if your dog is offering a behavior that is a BIG deal up the currency of the treat to something like lunch meat or cheese.

E-collar: E-collars are great tools when used correctly and explained by an experienced trainer. Do NOT go buy an E-collar, throw it on your dog and then try to figure out how to use it on your own. Always consult with an experienced trainer first. E-collars are intended to be a little tap on the shoulder for our dogs and are great for off leash obedience. Your dog should never yelp, if this happens your level is too high and you should turn it down. Most E-collars are waterproof and work from a pretty decent radius. E-collars are also a good tool to use when you are having issues with respect from the dog towards certain family members because the correction from each family member is the same.

Prong collar: Prong collars are excellent tools for training because they can be used as a personal correction from us to our dog and it’s a correction they are born understanding. They are also great tools for a dog that does not respond to a regular leash correction or treats. Prong collars are an awesome tool when used properly for dogs who have aggression. Prong collars should be used when a dog displays aggression and is in close contact with a dog, an E-collar if used incorrectly with an aggressive dog can trigger more aggression because they believe the stimulation is coming from the dog.

Place board: Place boards are typically 2X2 little trampoline looking objects for our dogs to learn the “Place” command on. Place boards are awesome tools for training because they teach our dogs impulse control, boundaries, and can build a dogs confidence. A “place” command comes in handy when you have a dog that jumps up on house guests or even a dog that begs for food!Placing is sending your dog to a designated object and having them hold this command until they are released or asked to do a different command. The “place” command can be transferred onto almost any elevated object.

Now, some dogs will require all tools listed and explained above. Some dogs may only need food. This just depends on what exactly you are looking for in your dog and the issues you are looking to fix. I can tell you for sure if you are looking to fix aggression, food alone will not work. Any method you choose to use you must be careful not to rely too heavily on one tool, this will make it hard to ween them off it in the future. This applies for food, prong collars, and E-collars.

Crate Training 101

I am a firm believer that if crate training is done right it is a great training option for our dogs. If everyone crate trained their dogs there would be far less dogs given up due to destructive behavior or having too many accidents around the house.

Many people believe that crates are cruel, however, when implemented correctly our dogs will love their crates! Our dogs love the feeling of having a place to themselves. As a matter of fact in nature dogs are cave dwelling animals. Crates give dogs the sense of security. However, to make this a safe place for our dog, the crate must never be used for punishment.

Crate training will help immensely in the potty training process. (Be sure to check out my potty training blog) As well as help prepare them for anytime they may need to be boarded at a vet or doggy daycare. Crate training will also ensure that your dog cannot get into anything that could potentially harm them.

Crate safety: You will want to make sure that when your dog is crated that you take his collar off. you will also want to make sure that you do not leave any toys or bones in his crate if he will be left unsupervised.

If you are potty training your dog you will not want to leave food or water in the crate when you leave for work or know you will be gone for a longer period of time.

Location, location, location! The location of the crate is important to consider! Typically when crate training is first being introduced you should have the crate wherever you are during the day like the living room for example, let the dog go in and out at his leisure. At night it would be best to have the crate in your room so the dog is near you and not barking/whining non stop because he is crated in a different room. You will want to have a crate that is easy to move around or purchase two crates.

Here is a training regiment I have found to work great:

First, you will have to purchase a crate. You will want a crate that your dog can grow into but also has a divider to make it smaller for potty training. If you will be moving the crate around you will also want to take into account the transportability.

Now, it is important to remember that the crate should never be used as a punishment. For our dogs to grow to love their crates this must be seen as a positive place for them to be! To accomplish this we must incorporate the crate into their every day lives. A good way to do this is to start feeding them their meals in the crate. Leave the crate door open and put their food bowl in the back of the crate to where they must fully go into the crate to eat. The idea to this is dogs will not typically use the restroom where they eat and they will start to associate the crate with something positive, I mean, after all who doesn’t love to eat!

After you have done the feeding in the crate for a few days, start closing the door behind him and opening the door once he has finished eating. You will want to stay in sight of him the first few times of doing this. After this point you will begin to crate him with the crate door closed at night as well.

The next step is to start giving him higher value rewards to go into the crate. I say to do this when you’re sitting watching TV or something. Have some treats handy next to you and throw them in the crate, this will entice him to go in, when he walks in you can mark the behavior with a command like “kennel” or “crate”. You can also use a Kong with frozen peanut butter or yogurt to get him to stay in the crate longer. (Make sure your dog is supervised when given a Kong or any other toy) When he is in there you can say “Good boy, good kennel!” and let him walk back out. Simple enough, right?

Now that we are getting him comfortable with being in the crate with the door open as well as when the door is shut, you will start to leave the room while he is eating and the crate door is shut. First, start off with about 30 seconds and gradually increase the amount of time you leave the room. Once, you have done this successfully and he is not whining or going crazy in the crate for about 5 minutes, he is ready for the next step.

The last step of the crate training regiment is leaving the house for a short amount of time while he is crated. Go get the mail or talk to a neighbor. When you come back in and he is calm you will give tons of praise and treats when you let him out of the crate.

Depending on the dog crate training can typically be accomplished in a few days to a week. Some dogs may take a little bit longer, but that’s okay! Slow and steady wins the race.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and if you like the article let me know!

Consistency is Key

As dog owners it is our job to ensure that our dog leads a happy and balanced life.

When a dog is not mentally stimulated and receiving the structure he needs he will become emotionally and physically frustrated. This will make it nearly impossible for us as owners and pack leaders to live harmoniously with our dogs. He will then look for an outlet for his pent up energy. Some examples include:

  • Digging
  • Dog “Zoomies”
  • Chewing
  • Anxiety

Dog zoomies – The act of freaking out and running around like an uncontrolled nut

We must also be fair and consistent leaders. As a leader we must be able to tell our dog when they do something wrong and show them what we see as an acceptable behavior. However, we must also praise our dog when they offer us a behavior we see as acceptable. Often we are quick to correct and fail to praise.

Fair – Not too harsh or critical

Consistent – Compatible or in agreement with something

To be able to correct our dogs behaviors we must first know the difference between punishment and correction.

Punishment – The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense

Correction – The act of making something accurate or better

Punishment is a dead end street. If we punish our dog and do not tell them what is an acceptable behavior in our eyes, they will only learn that a certain behavior makes us as humans angry or agitated. However, they will not learn what we would like them to do instead.

Example: Your dog is jumping up on guests when guests come to your front door, you get frustrated, yell at him then you proceed to put him in his crate or outside. This is a band aid solution.

Band aid solution – A temporary solution that does not solve a problem

Many times as owners we will choose the easiest way to “fix” something but this is not necessarily what is best for our dog. A band aid solution is pretty much just a nice word for being lazy. The correct way to fix this problem is to show your dog the proper way to greet someone at the door.

Some people may not see a problem with this band aid solution so let me give an example of a better way to solve this problem. After all, we are trying to learn to become fair and consistent leaders.

Example: You let your friend into the house (we will name the dog Max) Max starts jumping up on your guest who isn’t super fond of dogs, you’re embarrassed but you decide to work through it. You tell Max “off” and then you have him sit or place. Once has all four on the floor we praise him instantly with either “Yes” or whatever you would like your reward marker to be. Then we ask him to sit, down, or place, once he is doing one of these behaviors we then offer him more praise and then petting or treats. (Whichever your dog values most)

In this scenario we gave Max an “off” command and let Max know what was an acceptable behavior for when a guest enters the house. Once this is consistently implemented this will become a learned behavior for Max and he will offer this anytime the doorbell rings.

Since we’ve gone over being fair let’s now go over being consistent. Consistency is key, I cannot stress that enough. We have to be consistent with our dogs. Everyone in the family must be on the same page and willing to help work towards the goals we have for Max. Think of how confusing it would be for Max if Annie lets him jump up on her friends when they come over but when Mom has guests over he must offer a totally different behavior. Super confusing, right? Teamwork makes the dream work!