The number one challenge every new puppy owner
wants to fix first is how do I get my puppy to go to the bathroom in the appropriate spot.
Now for some puppy owners, this mystery never gets solved and there's a lot of adult dogs
that are messing in the house as I speak. Today, that's all going to change
because I'm going to share with you my three-part process that guarantees any dog of
any breed of any age can become house trained. Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by
Dog. And listen, if you have an adult dog who already is house trained, don't turn away
from this podcast because I want to share some really unique dog training that I
believe will be of interest to everybody because it's a different slant on a long,
long unanswered question for a lot of people. How do I help train my dog? It
comes down to this acronym H-O-T. I don't want you to get HOT if your
puppy has a mistake in the house. H-O-T: Habits, Observation and Timetable.
I'm going to share with you what I do if I get an inadvertent accident in the house, but
in the meantime, if you follow this three-part process, I promise you literally within a week,
you're going to have a pretty reliable puppy. In short of a month, it should be rare that
you ever have an accident in the house. So, let's start. H that is Habits. Now,
behaviour is just a collection of habits, my behaviour, your behaviour, and for sure our
dog's behaviour. And success comes from creating really good habits. I suggest you look at episode
number 44: Using Coincidences and Positive Associations. In that episode, I introduced my
training chart progress. And there, I suggest when we're teaching anything to our puppies or
our dogs, you want to make the correct behaviour incredibly obvious and the incorrect
behaviour almost impossible.
So that might be, to make that correct behaviour
absolutely guaranteed obvious your puppy would just live outside all the time because they
would always be correct anytime they went to the bathroom. They'd always be going in
the correct spot. Now that isn't reasonable. So, what can we do? The next best thing
is we can follow these five simple habits that are going to help arrange those coincidences,
so your puppy does learn to go in the right spot.
Habit number one is we have to control the
environment for that puppy. And I use three simple tools to do that. First of all, a crate. A
crate, now for those of you who say, “Oh, I don't, my puppy, I want my puppy to live free. I
don't want him to be in behind barriers and crates and stuff like that.” Well then, you're
going to have to get used to the smell of urine and the occasional stepping in poop around your
house. And guess what, that stuff, it goes moldy and it stinks up your entire house. And there's
no need for it. Three simple environment changes. Number one, a crate. A crate big enough
that your puppy can be comfortable in it, but not so big that he can learn to pee in
one area and sleep in another. So just big enough for him to comfortably sleep in there. He
doesn't have to spend a lot of time in his crate. Only when you can't be there to supervise him.
Number two, Ex-pen and I have an eight panel Ex-pen.
I use various ones around
my home. It's a simple little lodging that you can take with you and create a
little four foot by four foot area for your puppy to just have their own little home, but have a
little more freedom than a crate would give them. And number three would be barriers like
baby gates, things that would block off rooms or doorways in your house. So that let's
say you're chillaxing in your living room and you want to hang with your puppy, you can
block off the entryway to the kitchen and so, there's just the small area in your den or
your living room where the puppy can be. So, a crate, an Ex-pen, and a baby gate. And I
will give you some links to some of my favourites in the show notes. I strongly recommend you dig
into episode number 6: The Art of Manipulation, where I talk about how you get success in
training when you manipulate the environment that helps to create what
is obvious for the puppy.
So, we've got the puppy in a small area.
Habit number two is, make home-base close to the area you want your puppy to
potty in. Now, when I'm saying “potty”, some parts of the world they're thinking
I'm saying “party”. Now it's “potty” and that's a, just a slang for going pee
or poop, in an appropriate area. All right. So, make your home-base meaning
the Ex-pen or the crate is going to be pretty close to the door.
So, if the puppy's in an Ex-pen and you see that they have to go potty, you
can quickly get them outdoors. Now the only exception to that is my puppies do sleep in my
bedroom on a raised surface, right near my bed. And in episode number 26, I talk about how
to get a puppy to sleep through the night. And that is a big part of it.
Other than that,
the home-base starts for the first week or so, very, very close to the door. So, we have
habit number one, make sure you control the environment. Habit number two make sure that
you create home-base near an outside door. Habit number three, outside privacy.
That is when you have your puppy home or the dog that you're retraining, every
hour for the first week, you're going to say, “Let’s go outside!” You're going to clip on the
leash and you're going to go outside to the area, the same area every time where you
want that dog to do their business. Now I say outside privacy, that means you get
out there and you zip it. You don't interact with that puppy. If they jump on you and try to
bite your pant leg, you're going to ignore them, zero interaction. Let them do
their business. Now, I like to say I want a pee in three. I'll give them
three minutes out there to do something. Most puppies are going to
pee within three minutes. They'll go to the bathroom, you can quietly
praise them, “good puppy”, and then let them do some more sniffing and go about their business.
You might get a number two or for some puppies they're a double pee-er.
My dog Feature was
a double pee-er. She still is to this day. Don't just say, “Oh, I've got to pee. I'm
rushing them back inside.” That's when some puppies will have a little pee outside
and then go have a bigger one in the house. Don't rush them. Make sure to give
them 30 seconds or a minute at least after their last episode outside before you
say, “All right, we're going to go inside.” You want to establish when we go outside, it is
for you to do your business. So that's why you're going to give them privacy. You're not going
to be chatting and talking to them.
You're not going to have them pee and then throw a Frisbee
or a ball or something for them. It's just, we're going outside, we're going to do our business.
Now, if you wanted to go for a walk after, you could then move away from that
special area where you want them to potty and then you can start chatting to them.
they potty and they've done their business, like I said, quietly praise them,
take them back in the house. If after three minutes, nothing happens, take them
back in the house, but put them in a crate. You want to make sure that you're controlling access
to their environment. When they come out of their crate, when you're going to take them out of
the crate next time, take them back outside. You want to have them go to the bathroom. So, puppies,
young puppies may have to go to the bathroom, depending if they're really small every hour or
every couple of hours, depending on their age, that eventually will grow out
to three hours or four hours. But I would at first take them outside every hour.
Now, if they have an accident in between, you might up that up to every 30 minutes, right? So,
habit number three outside it's quiet time, it's privacy, same spot, do your business, get back
Pee in three or we’re out. Habit number four, and you are going to thank me for this one
at some point in your dog's life. Every time you take that puppy outside, they are pottying on
a leash. It doesn't matter if you have a fenced in backyard. It doesn't matter if you trust your
dog, just do this for the first, say month or two. And if your puppy has never had a leash
on before, just drag it for the first couple episodes until they get used to having
that leash on, right? They potty on a leash, then you praise them and then they're back inside. All right. So that is habit number four.
We're going to habit number five. That is bedding check regularly at least twice a day.
So, you're going to take the bedding out of your puppies’ crate, whether it be a towel or a mat
check to make sure you haven't had any accidents.
If there has been any accidents in the crate,
I reduced the bedding. So, if I've had a big fluffy bed in there, I'll go to a towel. If
the puppy still has accidents on the towel, they get no bedding in there for a little
while. Because what happens the towel absorbs the urine and they
don't mind, “I'm still dry.” So, we want to make sure that you do
bedding checks regularly. That is any fluffy bed that's in their environment if you
have one in their exercise and their Ex-pen or in their crate, any mats that they may
have any interaction with, do that bedding check regularly. So those are really good
habits that are going to help establish good pottying exercise for your puppy that they know
“I have to go outside. I go to the same area. I do my business. I get praised and then I'm
in a controlled area when I'm not outside.” The next part of the process, the O
is Observation. And this isn't what you might think. It's a two-part process. And
listen, are you familiar with the game poker? A good poker player can anticipate what another
poker player is going to do.
They get tells; it's called tells. The other player will have
these little quirks, some physical quirks that they have that give away what they're about
to do. Your puppy, it has tells as well. I want you to start picking up what your puppies
tells are, and you're going to do this outside. So, you're going to take your puppy outside
and start observing what does that puppy do just before he pees or poops? Does he sniff
a certain way? Does he always turn a circle in the same direction? How does he hold
his tail? When he's about to pee, does he do something? Does he paddle his feet? Look
for those little tells and write them down. Observe those every week or so, see if
they're changing. And then what you're going to do is put yourself
on high alert in the house. And if you see any one of those tells you are
going to then say to your puppy, “Let's go outside.” Clip the leash on and get out there.
puppy will have tells. They don't suddenly just drop urine. Right. So, look for those
tells. And then you're going to be able to anticipate and the puppy is going to learn,
“Oh, so when I need to go, I go to the door.” And you're going to very quickly, you're going to
see the puppy start to initiate that “I need to go outside” rather than just, you know, starting
to squat on your floor, they're going to say, “Now I've got to do something.” But your
observation skills, they are required all the time.
Anytime your puppy is out of their
crate, even when they're in their exercise pen, in that Ex-pen, it doesn't mean that
you don't have to be on high alert. I can be cooking and just watching that
puppy, I'm still watching for those tells. You don't ever want them to have
an accident in that exercise pen. Every accident that they have, you've got to say,
“That is on me.” That I could have done my job better. And guess what? That's just a rehearsal
of something you don't want to have. And the more rehearsals they have, the better they get at
pottying inside. Now, if you're like me and live in a cold climate country, a lot of puppies
don't want to go outside in the wintertime. So, you're going to have to get very, very
good at following the powers of observations and those five good habits to make sure
that puppy gets outside. Because remember, you need to be clear with your expectations.
As Brené Brown says, “Clarity is kind.” So be super clear by having those good habits
and keeping your powers of observation on at all times when that puppy
is outside of their crate.
Okay. The third part of the process, this is a
biggie. It is T the Timetable. Now I'm going to tell you right off the bat, my dogs do not eat on
any kind of a timetable. But when I have a puppy, the timetable is always around
the times they do eat. So, we know there are times where in a
puppy is more likely to want to pee. After any kind of sleeping episode, a little nap,
take them out to their potty spot. Overnight, take them out to their potty spot.
kind of nap immediately they're going to give you something. And that gives you an opportunity
to rehearse good behaviour. Any time you've had a big play or a training session with your
puppy, take them out to their potting spot. I would say you're going to learn what that
timing is for your dog, but for most puppies, 15 minutes to 30 minutes after a big
drink. And if your puppy is a swimmer, always take them out several times after
they've had a swim. Again, depending on the age of the puppy, it could be 15 minutes, 30
minutes, an hour, 90 minutes after they eat. Younger puppies, they need to get out immediately
after they eat. And then you can drag it out as you learn the timetable of your puppy. And
eventually they will become very predictable because you don't have to feed them at a certain
time, but you do have to take them out at a certain time after they have had anything to eat.
Because food in starts to stimulate food out.
So, if you are very religious
about that timetable again, you are establishing good rehearsals of what you
want doing your business outside, which is going to give you a better chance at making sure that
your puppy always does their business outside. Now, what I didn't say, and I maybe should
have started this off is, if your puppy is having accidents in the house and you
are doing all of this, please make sure to get your puppy checked out by a veterinarian and
make sure there isn't anything physically wrong. And finally, let's talk about when an accident
happens. Because let's face it, none of us are perfect. And our puppy may have an accident. It
happens. There's two kinds of accidents. There's the accidents you happen upon. Those are the
worst. Those are the worst when you're walking through the house and there's just a puddle.
you're going to only hope that that puddle is near the door. The closer to the door is that's a
good sign that your puppy is figuring things out. If the accident, the puddle or the pile is
behind furniture you're in trouble. It means that you have handled these accidents
inappropriately. It means that your puppy is worried and they're starting to hide so
that they can eliminate somewhere in the house. What you need to do is create a Zen attitude. If there is an accident, it is not on the puppy.
It is a hundred percent on you or a family member, but that's okay too, because you know what, maybe
they were supposed to be looking after the puppy and they got distracted as
It's not Earth shattering. Adopt a Zen attitude. An accident you
find after the fact, all you can do is clean up and do a better job. An accident
that you, the puppy, you're right there and you see them start, you miss the early tells and
they're about to squat just quickly get to them and rush them outside. You know, clip that leash
on. I like in the heat of the moment I just grab the leash and clip it over. You might
even just grab a leash in one hand and pick up the puppy and run them outside. And if
they're in the middle of a poop, if you just press down on their tail head, quite often that
will stop it so you can finish it outside. All right. Get them outside and then
bring them back in, put them in the crate, clean up the mess and plan how are you going to
do a better job with your powers of observation? That's it for the complete three step process on
how to make sure any puppy that comes into your house gets house trained super early so that you
don't have any accidents and the puppy gains this great confidence.
Because they know what their
expectations are or what your expectations are of them. And they, I mean, they're much happier when
they can go outside and do their business as well. One last thing I'm going to say, if you want your
puppy to potty in the house, you could follow this along. What I would recommend you do though, is
you take an Ex-pen and you set up a potty area. A lot of people make the mistake of making this
little, tiny, like a kitty litter box. Right. So, the puppy has like three quarters of the area to
play in, and pee in, and poop in, and one little quarter where they're supposed to pee and poo.
You know what, for the first week, make your Ex-pen three quarters of it a potty area. So,
get a bunch of trays and then gradually when they start peeing in those trays, you can take one
And so now half of your Ex-pen area is a potty area. And gradually get it down so that the
puppy is consistently going in the area you want. It isn't the best, my first choice
to have a puppy to go to the bathroom in an inside potty area. But I can understand
that for some of you it's an absolute necessity, but you can still follow the HOT process
to make sure that you get reliable results pottying in the same area in the potty tray
rather than anywhere out on your floor.
Okay. And finally, if you haven't
checked out my video on YouTube: Susan Garrett's Five Puppy Games, please do
that. It will give you new insights into things you can do to exercise your puppies’ brain
and body while they are inside your house. And that's going to help set up another
opportunity for you to run them outside, have a successful potty. I'll see
you next time on Shaped by Dog..