In working with my clients over the years, I've ran into various situations where dog owners were looking for ways to allow their dogs to potty indoors without making a mess. Each situation was unique; whether it was an elderly client who could no longer make it outside easily, someone who worked long hours and needed to provide a place for their dogs to relieve themselves while they were away, a toy breed who couldn't be outside very long in the winter, or dogs who had never walked on grass before their new owners adopted them - indoor potty training is essential in situations like these!
Puppy pads are very handy indeed, but what about other alternatives? You may have heard about turf mats with a catch pan underneath. You can even find real-grass potty patches which are great for high-rise apartments and encourage peeing on a grassy surface. Better yet - I about jumped out of my seat when I read about this product:
...tree bark that absorbs odors... lasts up to one month?! It's like a patch of earth you can keep in your home! Your well-trained dog can relieve him or herself any time they need while you're away at work. Now that sounds like peace of mind!
I'm really excited about this product because it's reusable and earth-friendly! Plus, the natural smells encourage potty business right on the box.
Now, does this mean your dog or puppy will automatically go up to it and pee on it? Maybe, but most likely not. As with just about everything, some training is involved, which is why I'm here to give you some tips to get started!
#1: If your dog is already pad-trained, place the new potty box in the area, on top of the existing clean puppy pads. If you catch your dog urinating or deficating on the new box, reward them with a "good" and a favorite treat. Pretty soon, you'll be able to take away the paper pads once your dog is reliably going on the box.
#2: If this is all new to your dog, set the box down in the desired, accessible location and allow your dog to sniff. Reward with praise and a favorite treat for any business on the potty box. If your dog doesn't "go" on it right away, (which is likely that they won't if they're house trained) keep them in the room that has the potty box when it's about time for them to "go". Stay with your dog in the room for a little while, then walk over to the potty box, point at it and happily say "go pee" (provided your dog knows that cue). If your dog is unfamiliar with these words, I highly recommend you start teaching them! I can't begin to tell you how useful "go pee" and "go poop" are! All you have to do to turn it into a cue is say it as your dog is doing it - it's really that simple! If you consistently say it every time your dog "goes", they'll associate the word with the action, and they'll know what it means.
So once your dog knows what "go pee" means, you can encourage them to pee on the potty box. Remember not to repeat your cues, because doing so will weaken the cue. Most importantly - be patient! Your dog is likely uncomfortable with peeing inside, because they've already been trained to only go outside. Reward every step in the right direction to shape the desired behavior: peeing on the box.
#3: If you're starting out with a puppy, close off a room (preferably hard floors) for your puppy to spend their time in. Make sure it's in a central location where you can watch your puppy and spend time with them. Reward any sniffing behaviors with a happy "good" (or a click if you use clicker training). Watch for the moment your puppy finishes peeing on the box and reward right then and there! With repetition, your puppy will know that's the place to go!
This is not meant to be a replacement for regular walks; your dog needs a chance to exercise, sniff and explore the world daily. However, I think it is a great solution for the situations described at the beginning of this post; for those looking for a natural, less wasteful alternative to plastic/paper puppy pads.
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Don't forget to smile and wag your tail today. ~ Heather
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