Dog on the couch

2015-11-04 06:00

Hi Susan, I have been having a terrible time house-training my Maltese poodle puppy. I have tried rubbing her nose in her mess but still she always leaves something for me to have to clean up in the morning. I take her out before bedtime. Please, any suggestions?

Thanks, Sandy

WHILE I really do understand that waking to the task of cleaning up a pee and a poo is an unedifying prospect that anyone would wish to avoid, I do need to ask you to take in a wider view of this problem, especially from the dog’s side.

Just think about training a human child to use the potty. The suggested age to start training is two years. Methods advised include praise when successful, lots of patience and watching intently for signs that the child needs to toilet. What would we think of parents who smack a “dirty” child or rub their baby’s face in the contents of the nappy?

Surely we would be horrified, and yet this is not recognised as grossly unfair and cruel in the training of baby dogs. Secondly, surely you wouldn’t omit to tell an overnight guest in your house where the toilet is, yet it is commonly expected that a puppy who hasn’t yet developed adequate control of its tiny bladder and bowels should be able to hold out for those many hours.

Rubbing your puppy’s nose in its mess will be construed as violent, which it is, and will not solve the problem or benefit the relationship you should be nurturing. There are physiological and neural matters to understand before making unrealistic demands on your puppy. Small dogs take longer to learn bladder control than larger dogs. You need to be reasonable and exercise patience, as you would with a child.

Clean the soiled area with an enzymatic detergent so that the puppy doesn’t identify that place as a toilet. Try to get the puppy to use an old newspaper for its toilet, and then place a small piece of that soiled newspaper on top of a fresh newspaper in a cat tray. The point of this is to enable the dog to smell that this is now the toilet, while at the same time having the toilet in a relatively clean and inviting condition. Alternatively, get up every few hours, let the puppy out and encourage her to do her business in the yard. Obviously, as a matter of course, this would be the last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Keep the toilet as a back-up. Remember, a puppy learns re-latively quickly. A useful guideline is to divide the dog’s age in weeks by four to work out the hourly rate at which your particular kind of puppy should be given an opportunity to toilet.

I covered this problem before in this column and it remains among the frequently asked questions. If you feel that more detail is required, refer to “House training a puppy” at www.dogboxtrain - Susan Henderson.


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