How To: Avoid Common Potty Training Mistakes

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 10:59:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Every pet owner loves their fur babies... most of the time. When Spot's leaving spots on the rug or Rover's roving where he shouldn't, it can be tough to respond with love. That's the main reason that people make common potty training mistakes. Dogs are loving creatures, but they're not very mentally complex. Learning where to potty for them is like learning calculus for us. Bear that in mind as you consider these 4 common dog potty training mistakes!

1) Yelling

Dogs understand more than we think they do, but they especially respond to tone. When you get angry and loud, they think "threat!" and respond by adopting appeasement posture. If you've seen videos of "dog shaming," that's the kind of behavior dogs use to avoid a challenge from a more senior pack member. To put this in terms of people training, imagine trying to learn a foreign language while it's being shouted at you by an angry person. It's hard to focus on the content when you're trying to figure out if this person is going to hurt you. Worse yet, dogs may respond to this threat in unhealthy ways. If you get mad every time the dog uses the bathroom on the rug, the dog learns that you get mad when he potties indoors. This will lead to more concealment, and is part of the reason dogs start hiding poop around the house!

2) Bad timing

Especially with a puppy, timing is everything. A puppy has an attention span of only a few seconds. If you don't get your praise or reward in that window, you're not reinforcing anything. While the puppy potties on the rug, or just after, move her to her indoor dog potty. Yes, this will involve spreading out the mess a little, but you're already going to have to clean up. Once she finishes, you've got a very narrow window to give praise and a reward. Doing this consistently will establish a pattern your dog can follow.

3) Using punishment

When you react out of anger to your dog's behavior, it's easiest to go straight for consequences. After all, that's how you'd raise a kid. Bad behavior has consequences, and dogs need to learn that. Except they won't. As much as we love them, dogs aren't kids. They don't learn the same way. When you punish a dog, all the dog learns is to dislike whatever the punishment is. That's serious trouble if you punish with crate time or isolation. Doing so can increase separation anxiety and produce more bad behavior.

Instead, rely on positive reinforcement. Most dogs are fairly food motivated, and so a well-placed treat can really bridge the gap between you and your canine companion. Praise, delivered in the right tone, can do many of the same things. Your dog wants to please you, so showing that approval will help reinforce the behavior your dog is showing. If you're looking for a dog potty solution, it doesn't have to be an outdoor space. For city dwellers or anyone without a big patch of grass, an indoor dog bathroom can be a lifesaver. If you're interested in learning more about saving your floors and your furry friend, check out Bark Potty! It's an easier, cleaner, and more affordable solution to puppy pads