“Training a puppy is like raising a child. Every single interaction is a training opportunity” — Ian Dunbar.
Few things are more exciting in the world now than having a puppy in the house. Puppies have this sweet air of loveliness around them that make them appealing to people. In fact, they have so much caught the public fancy today, and this fancy has earned them the right to proper care and housebreaking. After all, no one is willing to go through the pain of mopping a soiled room in the house simply because their darling puppy went rogue. Hence, it becomes necessary that puppies should be psychologically trained to maintain good hygiene through potty training.
A number of factors must be considered to successfully potty train a new puppy: the most important being the understanding of its psychology and behavioural changes. Other factors include the age of the puppy; its environment, exposure, and one’s level of patience. In order to potty-train a new puppy, the puppy has to be understood and listened to; its behaviour must be studied and taught to adapt to changes in its environment. Because puppies are just like babies, sometimes misbehaving and careless, one needs to exercise great patience in handling them.
This patience in potty-training requires using the right methods to keep them clean. If they are trained right, they behave right; if they are trained wrongly, they behave wrongly — that is how their hardwired brains work. Some tips to ensure correct training of a puppy include having a consistent training routine, feeding the puppy a proper diet, and also employing tested-and-trusted methods of training — the use of a crate, puppy pads and, above all, one’s emotional intelligence.
The idea behind using a crate for potty training is that dogs are clean animals and are driven by stimuli to find a cleared space to defecate when they are pressed. The puppy has two basic behavioural patterns that can be used in potty training: one is a possibility not to defecate or urinate in a small place; the other is to ease itself at special known spots. It is simply teaching a pet puppy to adapt to living in a custom location — like a potty or a cage. No puppy will naturally come to love the crate. They are in fact ‘domestic-wild’ animals, and their natural instinct, when pressed to poo, is to go out into the wild. As a result, they could become claustrophobic, fearing the security, when first introduced to them. The initial discomfort from being kept away can result in increased feelings of security and safety after repeated exposure to the crate. Subsequently, long-term crate security may lead to emotional and behavioural drops over time. However, this is only a necessary phase of adaptation to a new environment, and this strange effect eventually fades after some days. Because dogs are naturally alert, they also begin to relate their behaviours — feeding, irritability, excretion — to the comfort of the crate. It is also important to keep a puppy in only one crate to bring about a change in their psychology as it relates to emptying their bowels. A new puppy that has been kept in a crate, say for about 2-3 months, will learn to treat the crate as a personal haven, and will not want to soil it. This will teach the puppy to learn to use its creativity to call out for attention, either by wincing or hitting its paws on the floor so that it can be helped outside to ease itself. It then becomes important that to make crate training effective, pet keepers must be quick to attend to the needs of the puppy — otherwise, the puppy will be trained to do the reverse of what it is being taught. In addition, the crate size must be moderately large to contain the puppy conveniently. If it is made too big, the puppy might think it would be fine to ease itself at a corner of the crate anytime it feels pressed.
The use of disposable pee pads could also be a close substitute for the crate. To keep a puppy comfortable before disposing of its mess, one can employ the use of moisture absorbent pads which are usually laid flat on the ground. The goal behind this method is to create an indoor bathroom for the puppy to ease itself. For new puppies which have little learning history, this will prove to be a Herculean task for petkeepers. If a puppy’s instinct is going to be trained to use an outdoor bathroom, it must first start cultivating this habit indoors, and that is where pee pads come into play. The choice of pee pads is influenced by their texture, flexibility and ability to hold water. One could opt for tissue papers or towels, but store-bought kinds are most suitable since they are easy to wash and dry after use by the puppy. Some types are scented and the foul smell from faeces is easily washed off after laundry. Because puppies are instinctive to smell, pee pads must be washed immediately before a second or third usage. This will prevent them from being drawn to their mess and will train them to use only a clean pad.
This will also help take away the urge in some puppies to feast on their own mess. If pad laundry is left unchecked, this method of potty training will prove to be ineffective. Another duty required to enforce this method is to closely monitor a new puppy. Like newborn babies, its creativity is still in the embryonic stage, and so it might not be able to signal clearly when it needs to empty its bowels. After playing, drinking or eating, it is advisable to place it on a pad 15 minutes after in expectation of the puppy easing itself. Above all, consistency is key, and this needs to be repeated till the puppy learns to give signs of pressure such as whining or scratching the floor. One must also be consistent in training the puppy to use the pad for a single purpose, and not as a space for eating or drinking.
In conclusion, a new puppy needs to be understood in its feeding habits, mood swings and emotions to enforce potty training. In fact, research has shown that puppies trained and cared for emotionally, after periods of separation from their masters, appear to show symptoms of depression similar to those shown by humans. When one forms a bond with them, they will learn to imitate one’s attitude towards hygiene as well. After all, it is said that people do not follow a person’s words, but rather such a person’s actions. It is only by extending love, understanding and respect to their well-being that good hygiene will be taught to them, regardless of whatever method.
- Cesar Dunbar. (2018). Puppy Training 101. The Essential Guide to Training a Puppy With Love. Crate Training 101. pp. 42 – 44.
- Mara, B. (2022, March 4). How To Potty Train Puppies: A Comprehensive Guide For Success. American Kennel Club (1884). https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-potty-train-a-puppy/
- Monishka, K. (2021, September 30). Understanding The Behaviour And Psychology of Dogs. MyIndia. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/humour/understanding-the-psychology-and-behaviour-of-dogs%3famp