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Transitioning From Indoor to Outdoor Potty Training
Many people have been using an indoor potty for their dogs for some time. Proof of this is the fact that the pet market is now filled with many varieties of indoor dog potties to choose from. To name just a few: Simple Solution Jump Start Pads, Patio Park, Porch Potty, Penthouse Dog Potty, PetaPotty, WizDog, Pet Zoom Pet Park, Ugo Dog, Potty Patch, Pup Head, Pee Wee Portable Potty and Pet Loo.
Some of these products have been developed for people who want a dog that is permanently trained to disappear in a designated spot indoors. However, the vast majority of people use an indoor potty for about a couple of months or so, until a young puppy has developed the necessary bladder and bowel muscle control to “hold” it for periods of time between walks. Prior to this, a long-term confinement area such as an enclosed bathroom or exercise pen can be used when you need to leave your puppy for longer than you know he can “hold” in his crate. In this enclosure the puppy has access to an internal potty area.
Most people who face the task of transitioning from indoor to outdoor potty training are those with puppies. In this case, the goal is usually to let the puppy transition from using the temporary indoor potty to eliminating exclusively outside. However, we certainly hear from people who face a more daunting challenge. Teaching their small indoor potty trained dog to either now go outdoors or even harder to stop using an indoor potty altogether and only exclude it when out for walks.
When I meet with people for puppy classes, I often start by asking them what their house training goals are. Those with medium or large sized dogs are usually pretty straightforward. They want their dogs to learn to potty right away when they are taken outside for adequate walks and not to defecate indoors. People with small breed puppies are often not so sure about their goals at home.
In a perfect dog training world, people would carefully plan their long-term goals for their dogs before they even bring them home. In the case of choosing a potty spot, they would consider that even if having a small dog in an indoor potty seems convenient, it may not be wise to have it as a dog’s exclusive potty area, as in the future something may change to the life that makes the dog go potty is preferable. This could be (among many reasons) bringing another dog into your family or having a new partner who wants the dog out. Plus, going for walks can be such an enriching part of a dog’s life (both physically and mentally) that it would be a shame not to make it part of the dog’s daily routine. So while one of the many reasons some people choose a small dog is because of the assumption that it will be easier in some way, it is usually advisable to train small dogs to go outside even if they are also taught to use an indoor potty for convenience. .
In addition to socialization, building reliable homeschooling skills is a top priority. The good news is that once you help your dog develop a strong habit of disappearing in a certain spot, they tend to become more interested in going to that place. But, this also means that once you’ve helped your dog develop the habit of disappearing in a certain spot, it can be a bit more of a challenge to change that habit once it’s deeply ingrained.
Teaching your dog (whether a puppy or an adult small dog) to eliminate outdoors instead of or in addition to using an indoor potty will require careful planning and time management on your part. Your main focus should be on giving your dog as few opportunities as possible to be indoors with access to the indoor potty when they need to eliminate. Instead, when you know they need to go, you should take them (recommended for the first few weeks so no accidents happen on the way out) outside to an area about 10 feet wide and walk them back. and forth for five minutes without speaking to them.
If they don’t go away during this time, pick them up and move them back to where you will hold them for five to ten minutes in your lap before starting over to try again. Make sure you don’t let your dog down as it can throw your dog indoors and this will create a behavior pattern where your dog learns to go outside, sniff and then come back to throw. In most cases, this entry and exit routine does not take more than a few repetitions before outdoor training is successful. However, it is recommended that if this is your first attempt at getting your dog to eliminate outside, you should probably spend a week or two walking your dog on a leash inside the potty before starting the transition outside. This will give your dog a chance to become familiar and familiar with the elimination of the leash, which many indoor potty trained dogs have not done before.
During this transition period, also be careful not to allow your dog free access to roam your home, even when you are home. Each time you do this, the dog can further practice not going to the indoor potty, which reduces the chances of a successful outdoor potty break. Instead, when you can’t give your dog your full attention, have your dog on a leash tied securely near or leaning against his crate, either way providing some engaging and safe toys.
If you are trying to eliminate indoor potty, then be extra diligent about it. Once you remove the indoor potty area, your dog may be so conditioned to go indoors that he will seek out other areas and surfaces that are similar to the old indoor potty area. These can be front door or bathroom mats or newspapers left on the floor.
It is also vital not to punish your dog if a mistake is made indoors. This isn’t likely to teach your dog much other than to avoid disappearing in front of you (the big, bad, pee and poop police!). In this case, your dog will definitely hold it as much as possible when you take him/her out on a leash as you stand right nearby.
As you focus your energy on being a diligent dog time manager in an effort to help your dog learn to defecate on a new surface (grass or concrete), in a new and potentially very distracting environment (outside), remember that it may it takes your dog some time to develop a new, strong habit. Your dog is relying on you to help him understand the benefit of going to this new spot (by offering him calming praise and other rewards) and to prevent him from going to other places you don’t prefer.
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