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Potty Training Vs Toilet Training

So what is the difference between training a child to use a toilet and a puppy to go outside...? Which one is easier....?

From my experience of potty training my little munchkin at 2.5years old and toilet training my adopted pooch at 1 year old as well as numerous puppies to toilet outside it's very safe to say the only difference is you don't want your child going to the loo outside on the grass and you don't want your puppy trying to use a potty in the living room..... so we can learn Afew things from each of these experiences.

As a Behavuouist and mummy I can tell you with 100% surety that the one that is easier todo is the one you put in the most amount of effort.... they are exactly the same but if you assume one should be easier you may find that one is harder then the other because your assumptions can scupper your mission.....

People tend to think our puppies should just 'get it' or think that spending the time to take them out frequently is ludicrous.... (yes I have had someone say that to my face 😂) the truth is simply that we need to factor in toilet training into the puppy training process and if we are prepared to go the whole 100yards and some to get the job done then you may be suprised it's easier..... not just because your going into it determined but also because that determination may well just make the whole thing go quicker and smoother..... remember to celebrate those little wins! The first wee outside, the first poo outside, right through to fully trained and going on command.... don't set your expectations too high and give yourself a well deserved !win! Every time it happens because you made it happen!! Well done!!

For both children and dogs....

Routine is important,

regular toilet breaks (every 30-60mins for the first few days then waiting longer if your able without accidents, it about learning their cues),

100% supervision,

avoid accidents by any means and if they happen rush to your spot and praise.

Expect the odd set back and

disturbed sleep, and

think of 3-6 months to toilet trained and if it happens before that then it's a bonus.

So before we can tell you how todo it, you need the right set up at home to help you out as much as possible.

My pet peeve..... puppy pads....

Puppy pads are like the potty for the dog or the grass for the child..... why would we train our dog to go inside..... even if on a mat.... might we be better to just ensure they know to go outside from day 1. Save puppy pads for drips and problem spots but don't leave a messed pad on the floor.... clean and keep your home free of dog wee and poo... 🤪👍

So how do we do it....? How do we teach our dogs (no matter what age) to relieve themselves outside? The exact same way we teach our children to use the potty.....

Yes there is some sleep deprivation and countless trips outside, but teaching your puppy this habit should not be a complicated task. It does however require that you have a plan. You also must realize that it takes time and attention to detail.

To ensure success of your pup’s pee and poo habits a method of confinement is needed.

Not letting your puppy have full access to your home while possibly unsupervised and dogs will only defecate in areas they do not consider to be their home, so we have to make sure they don't spend anytime roaming unsupervised to avoid a confusion on what's home and what's fair game.... an exercise pen or a gate, something that prevents the puppy from having total freedom in your house is ideal for sleep, quiet time or times you can't watch them.

A loose puppy or rehomed dog needs 100% supervision until they can be trusted; this alone makes a crate an indispensable tool. In addition to toilet training, confinement provides the important structure and boundaries a puppy needs. It prevents the puppy or dog from developing inappropriate chewing preferences, it provides a quiet respite for a puppy resulting in a calmer more focused pup and it provides you with down time.

A loose pup or rehomed dog without supervision may become a nightmare very quickly.

They will chew, poo, bite, destroy and maybe (let's be honest)... make you cry 😬. I get calls all the time from stressed out puppy parents. The household has been disrupted and a feeling of defeat is setting in. Please don’t be discouraged. Success is around the corner.

The key to proper crate training is that you have to crate the pup while you are also at home and awake, not just when you leave or go to sleep. The latter can lead to a pup hating the crate because it predicts you are going to disappear, you want to train a puppy or doggy to be comfortable and love the space you need to employ for safety and training.

The Slippery Slope of Crate Guilt

If you are suffering from crate guilt please try to get over it, dogs love small spaces and feel safe there, replace the word crate with 'den' and you will feel better. Instead of worry Spend that energy on teaching the pup that the crate is a great place to be. The half-hearted approach to using a crate may result in more resistance and unnecessary stress that can be avoided if you stick to a game plan. Early in the crate training you may experience crying and barking from your puppy, this is natural, the majority of puppies get over this quickly. If the first time the puppy is crated is when you bring him home, there is going to be some stress.

Play Games

Play games multiple times per day that help make the crate more attractive to the puppy.

Toss The Treat
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes.

  • Toss a treat in the crate and say ‘go in‘.

  • Ask the puppy to ‘come out’.

  • Repeat.

  • Do this until your timer goes off.

  • Hide a jackpot such as a raw frozen bone or a delicious stuffed toy in the back of the crate.

  • Toss a treat in.

  • When the pup finds the jackpot let him gnaw at it for the count of 10.

  • Gently bring him out and close the door to the crate preventing him access to the jackpot..

  • Count to 10 again.

  • Open the door and allow access.

  • Repeat.

You Need A Strategy

Create a plan for toilet training your puppy. Your success depends on you and your actions not the puppy.

The simple version goes like this; the puppy has every opportunity to ‘go’ outside and no opportunity to ‘go’ inside. You reinforce the behavior you want with a tiny tasty treat or play and praise after they go. You stay the course. The pup’s bathroom habit will start to become reliable after about 3 to 4 months of your continued good work. This is a ballpark figure based on how long it takes for the good habit to form.

People and puppies need not go through unnecessary turmoil and strife when it comes to crate and toilet training. With consistency and attention to the process you and your puppy will quickly fall into a rhythm. Soon you will be sleeping through the night again. You will have a calm, crate-trained dog with excellent bathroom habits.

Use This Tip List to Help You Devise and Stick To A Plan

  1. Make a plan and stick to the plan.

  2. Confinement of some sort is key.

  3. Go outside or to the spot of choice, on leash.

  4. Stand relatively still.

  5. Stay outside for approximately 3 – 5 minutes.

  6. Use a ‘key phrase, such as ‘show me’ or ‘go pee’, 'be a good girl' AS they are going..... NOT BEFORE (yet)

  7. Reward the puppy for ‘going’ with food if you wish and a bit of free play time.

  8. If he doesn’t ‘go’, he should go back in but given another chance after 10mins until he goes, he should be supervised while inside!

  9. Remember it will take 3-4 months for a habit to form and for your command to really be learnt.... then you can walk outside at the time they go and say your command to see if they go shortly after.... if not then overlay it for some more time and try again in another month. I highly recommend this so you have much more control over where and when they do their business.... think going into granny's house.... you know they don't need to go if they have just been on the grass out front.

  10. Sleep interruption is a real thing. Expect to get up in the middle of the night to take your puppy outside for the first few weeks.

  11. Go outside with pup every time he comes out of the crate

  12. Go outside with pup before he goes back inside the crate.

  13. Go outside if it's been a little while

  14. Go outside if they have been playing for a while

  15. Go outside if they have just drank a lot

  16. Go outside if they have just eaten a meal

  17. Go outside if they have woken from a nap

  18. Go outside if they sniff a lot or have an accident

  19. If an accident happens take your pup out asap! Mid flow if needed! Praise with paws on the floor and start the process again, lead on, stand still, wait 10mins for them to go again.... they will need to especially if you interrupted them. No point scolding them becousw it was your miss.... not theirs....

  20. If it feels like you are going outside all the time, you are doing it right.

  21. Use an enzymatic cleaner inside the house to clean up accidents.

  22. Do all this until you have learnt how your puppy or dog shows you they need to use the loo.... this is small signals you will learn to spot while your supervising them.

  23. You can teach your pup or dog to bark at the back door or ring a bell everyone they go out for wees and poos...

If by now your thinking this all sounds like way to much work for you.... I have a much easier solution.... don't get a puppy OR don't expect them to be fully house trained!

Remember: it's normally when your at your last tether that you ensure you see change.... best to get there from the start and save yourself from feeling at your wits end all together.... if you do this.... you WILL see results, just how long will depend on you, your dog, the setting and any other contributing factors....

This brings me back around to the original question..... which is harder toilet training a child or a dog.....? 🤪 (funny comparison really 😂) but I'm now going to amend my answer and say.... for me..... a child!! Becouse I know dogs like the back of my hand and teach adults and other peoples children daily..... somehow teaching my own child is throwing out some very interesting curve balls I wouldn't see in training dogs..... but that said and my clients who are families should tell me the opposite.... so I truly think the answer to that question is a personal one and becouse every person and dog is different there isn't really a fair comparison... it's 100% situational and currently for me.... my child is proving to be very hard work where as all my puppy's and dogs much easier to manage... I am also a bit of a control freak so trying to convince a human who needs more then a treat or tennis ball is tricky. 😂🫣 I love my family and wouldn't change anything..... I think I'm destined to have slightly needy scardy cats around me forever 😂😂

Good luck and don't forget your never alone! Get in touch with a local behaviourist like myself to help you achieve your life's missions and take out the guess work.

For now... here's a cute bye bye wave....

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