How can I toilet train my puppy/dog?
Toilet training a puppy or a dog takes time and patience and every puppy will learn at its own pace. To make the process of toilet training successful and as efficient as possible, you need to use positive reinforcement training.
The reward must occur immediately after the event (within a few seconds), so the puppy knows what it is being rewarded for. The reward can be in the form of praise (a pat on the chest or saying 'good' dog in a pleasant tone of voice), a treat or giving them their favourite chew toy.
This system relies on you supervising puppy as much as possible throughout the day so as not to miss the opportunity to reward puppy for the good behaviour. The more often you can do this, the faster puppy will learn. You should also look out for signs showing puppy is about to go to the toilet so you can take them outside and are ready to praise them as soon as they have finished. (Signs include: sniffing the area, circling and pausing). Remember to take your puppy or dog to the toilet area first thing in the morning, as dogs will often need to go to the toilet at this time.
Positive reinforcement also involves ignoring 'unwanted' elimination – i.e. if the dog goes in the wrong place it is best to display no reaction. You should clean the area thoroughly with a non-ammonia based cleaning product to take away the scent and reduce the likelihood of the dog using the same place again next time.
Old-fashioned responses such as 'rubbing the dog’s nose in it' or administering any form of punishment will not teach the dog anything, in fact it may actually delay the learning process. The dog may instead learn that eliminating in front of the owner is inappropriate and this then makes rewarding elimination (when they do go in the right spot) difficult. It is very important to note that young puppies often do not have full control over their urination until they are a bit older. That is, urination is a developmental process, so very young puppies can make a mistake without being able to prevent or control it.