Thursday, October 24, 2013

Potty training

There is nothing more exhilarating then to bring that wriggling little ball of fur home after making that life changing decision to become a pet owner.  The excitement of being a puppy/kitten parent may slowly wane as you begin to realize that you are now faced with the task of teaching it where and when it is acceptable to use the potty.  Kittens are usually much easier to train as they often instinctively know to eliminate in a clean well placed litter box once they are shown its location.  Puppies on the other hand are a whole different kettle of fish to stew.  Puppies do not make the association to eliminate in any specific place without repetitive consistent positive reinforcement and this requires a good deal of time and patience from an owner.  The following are a few simple tips to help you start training your puppy:

  1. Designate a potty place outside/in the grass that is isolated from other dogs and animals.
  2. Use a word or phrase to help your pet associate using the potty in the correct place at the correct time  e.g. “pee-pees” or “potty-potty”.
  3. ONLY use positive reinforcement to help train your animal to use the appropriate place to eliminate—always have a healthy treat to give your pet immediately after they eliminate.  Punishment is confusing to the puppy and can create many other problems including fear and aggression issues.
  4. Take your puppy out to use the potty frequently when you are home (i.e. 1-2 times an hour).  Puppies need to urinate and defecate more often then adults and are in the process of developing control over these eliminations.
  5. When not at home, leave some newspaper out for the puppy to eliminate on.  Also be aware that 6-8 hours is a very long time for a puppy to have to hold its bodily functions without a break and it is not a realistic expectation for you to have of them.
 Other then that, have patience and lots of fun with your furry new family members!

Dr. Lauren Diamant D.V.M.- HAH
University College of Dublin Ireland

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