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Crate Training vs Puppy Pads
Often a dilemma with a puppy or newly adopted dog, how to potty train?
The following is what worked for me.
But, there are several considerations to take in mind:
- How much time do you have to spend on this project?
- Do you understand consistency?
- What do you want the final outcome to be?
- And, what are you willing to invest to achieve that final outcome?
Should You Even Be a Dog Owner?
First and foremost, if you are in the career-driven phase of your life, this might not be the time to adopt a dog. Just like you can't hold it for 12 hours, neither can a dog. If you are prepared and financially able to provide in-home dog daycare or deliver your dog to daycare each one of your working days, that is an exception. But, if you can't be with your dog every few hours, you are asking for trouble in the form of furniture destruction, 'deposits' on your flooring, and general anxious, lonely behavioral outlets.
If you have done your research and determined that you would be a good pet parent and are able to provide healthy resources, medical care, and physical outlets for your dog, congratulations! You are on your way to lots of joy and laughter.
I personally took 2 years to determine that I was in the right situation to adopt a dog. I was able to telecommute, thus spending needed time with my new adoptee, and I was financially capable of providing her the best health care, preventive maintenance, exercise, and top-notch dog food.
Then I took another few months to find the dog who was the right 'fit' for me.
New Family Members
Whether new adoptees or puppies, your home is new to your pet. They don't know your routine or expectations. As with adopting or birthing a child, plan to take a couple weeks off of work to establish a bond with your dog, a routine, consistency, including the pottying schedule.
Remember, this dog is scared and can't read your mind. They don't know what is expected of them, and may behave in ways that are unexpected to you.
But, avoiding the dreaded potty accidents, the method is simple.
Many people who leave their dog home alone for long periods of time or can't figure out how to potty train their dogs and want to protect their flooring, use potty pads (aka puppy pads). Normally, the pads contain a scent that is supposed to attract pets to potty on them.
The problem being that, while they are in this learning phase, putting 2 and 2 together, they learn to potty only when they smell the potty pad scent, which potty pads are only found in your home. Therefore, they learn to only potty in the house.
On the other hand, crate training is a quick and easy way for your dog to get the point - pottying only happens outdoors. Dogs are quick learners - you'll be amazed. Honestly, it's worth the initial effort, for a lifetime of perfect potty behavior. Here's the method:
- Create a warm, comfy, non-punishment atmosphere with the right crate - large enough for them to move around in. The crate should be somewhere close to you, with a nice, soft bed, and maybe a toy or chewy. It is a safe, quiet retreat for your pet. No harsh words should be spoken when placing them in their crate. Remember: Dogs don't potty where they sleep or eat.
- Here's where the work comes in (and the couple weeks off from your job): Every half hour, cheerfully remove the dog from the crate and immediately take him/her outside to potty. They may not understand what's going on at first, but soon will. Be patient, let them stay out as long as they want.
- If they potty outside, you (even men) need to adopt that high-pitched, praise-filled voice (with possibly a treat) immediately after the deed is done. Lots of love, affection, and confirmation is due at this point.
- After that, you can give them close attention and love for about an hour or two (gauge this by how much they eat and drink) - like on your lap - within reach.
- Then it's time to take them outside again. If they potty, repeat Step 3. If they don't, they get to go back into their warm, comfy crate.
- Keep repeating this procedure every half hour. If they do not potty, that's fine. They can go back into their crate to wait for the next half hour.
- Rinse and repeat.
Above all, do not scold or (God-forbid) rub their face in any mistakes. The only method that is truly effective is good behavior followed by loads of praise, unless you want a dog who is afraid of you versus your best bud.
This, of course, requires much patience from you. It's a project. If you don't have the time to devote to this project, don't get a dog. If you do, you will be bragging about your pet for the rest of its life while others are wondering where they went wrong.
If you happen to move to another home, this method may need to be repeated for a shorter period of time.
Puppy Pads vs Crate Training
For me, there was no contest. I have seen time and again, owners who are gone long stretches of time who come home to a stinky house, take their dog outside, only to have the dog come back inside to let loose on the puppy pads. These dog parents are stuck buying pads for life and having their home stink.
Crate training did the trick for my adoptee. Just to be sure, if I'm ever out, I put Lucy in her crate, not a place of punishment, but a place of warmth and safety and slumber, and I have never ONCE had to clean up an accident in my house. She is so happy when I get home, snap on her leash, and step outside for a walk and potty.
I have no stress of dog smells, cleaning up accidents, or other lonely, anxious behavior. This just increases the love between us.
But, what training methods have you used? I'd love to read your comments below.