Many covid dog parents pad trained their pup to eliminate on pee pads during the pandemic. In NYC, it’s common for dog moms and dads to not allow their pups to go outside as the streets are very unsanitary and it’s common veterinary recommendation to wait until a pup is fully vaccinated before socialization outside the home is allowed. Regardless of your reason for your pup going for a walk and then coming home to relieve themselves on the pee pad, follow these simple instructions to get your pee-pad trained dog to go both inside and outside.
Start with Basic Commands
When training your pup to eliminate outside, it is important to start with the behavior and another command that they already know. For most dogs this is sit. When Your are training your pup a new command, it’s important that they know their name first as well as at least one command. For puppies, this is the perfect time to learn other words/commands (the basics) which are generally covered in a puppy kindergarten class or basic obedience class.
The process of learning commands (and other words) in general is an important skill that can help your dog’s recall and mental stimulation in puppyhood, and throughout their lifespan. Your dog should know their name and the sit command as a pre-req for practicing this transitional potty training. Why? Your pup needs to know who you are talking to (them) and how to be warmed up for learning time (sit, paw).
Once Your Dog has an appropriate grasp on his name and sit, you will then want to introduce the command for “pee”. I call this “pee pee”. You can chose the appropriate word or phrase that works for you such as “potty” “#1” or “hurry up”. I like pee-pee because its simple and one word repeated. For #2, I instruct my training clients to say “poo-poo”. You can choose your own word or phrase such as “#2” or “poop” or “business”.
Find the Appropriate Times Practice Commands
When you are teaching your dog to eliminate in the appropriate place, you need to first associate the word “pee” or “poop” with the action of doing so. The appropriate time to do so is at times in the day that they are already scheduled to do so. For most pups, this is first things in the AM (within 10-15 min of waking up), 20 or so minutes after eating a meal or drinking water. You know your dog’s schedule, and the goal is to maximize efficiency and put your pup on somewhat of a predictable schedule to reduce accidents and train your pups in a way that is natural to their potty rhythm. If you don’t know your pups potty schedule (it’s random or you haven’t paid much attention), now would be time to start observing and taking notes. I promise you it’s not as random as you think.
How to further Ensure You can Catch When your pup goes to the bathroom
If you’re still really struggling to determine your pups schedule, you can increase their liquid intake once a day (you can use bone broth for dogs) if they are not huge fans of water and can fill up their bladders more quickly to expedite training to go pee.
How to Use Treats to Reward
Once you’ve nailed down your pups potty schedule, go ahead and give your pup a treat when they do go to the potty pad to eliminate. Using a treat is an easy way to associate an action with a good using something that a pup enjoys- food/a treat. As your pup does their business, get down on their level and as they are eliminating say “pee-pee, pee-pee” in a slow neutral tone and when they are done, give them a treat. Same for poo-poo. After repeating this at every elimination time for a week or two, your pup is likely to pair the command with the action and associate it with something positive- a reward!
Proper Tone of Voice to Use
When training your pup with a new command, it is important to use an appropriate tone and volume of voice. Too loud, or high pitched or excited can influence your dog in a way that takes away from the dog associating a command with an action by scaring or startling them or making them more excited and causing them to stop the action they are doing.
What NOT to say to Your Dog
Do not say “good boy” or “Good girl” or “yeah” when teaching your pup the command for pee or poo. A simple treat or reward suffices as its clean and easy for the dog to follow. Adding addition words like “go” or go pee pee over there” adds a level of complexity not appropriate for a simple word-action association.
How to Not Overtreat Your Dog
If you’re concerned about giving your dog too many treats, please consider using their kibble as treat substitutes. I always recommend a diet of fresh, whole and if possible single ingredient treats in addition to your dogs primary nutrition sources. Winners for treats that 99% of my dog training clients respond well to are: lamb lungs (they can be cut into bite sizes), wellness puppy bites and stella and chewies salmon and cod topper.
Now that your pup knows pee and poo on a schedule, its time to take the pee pad outside or the commands outside. Be sure to bring your pup outside at times that are in alignment with their potty schedule. And be sure the bring a used pad and place it in a place you want the pup to go. You don’t have to bring the pad outside, but it can help. Be sure to be calm on the walk, and have your treats ready. When you pup is sniffing around for that right spot, let them and be ready in the same tone of voice to reward them when they are done eliminating!
photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/kzqXDgEE0Sk
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