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Thread: Potty Spot = The Entire Outdoors?

  1. #1

    Default Potty Spot = The Entire Outdoors?

    Hi there! I just adopted a 5-m.o. shihpoo, who is the first puppy I've had as an adult. My last dog was 7-y.o. and already housebroken when I adopted her, so I'm a bit nervous about training the new pup—trying to make sure I do it right!

    I've been reading your website, and I'm a bit confused/concerned about the concept of training a puppy to go in a (presumably small) "potty spot." I anticipate traveling with my pup from time to time, so I basically just want her to know that outside=good for pottying. (I'd prefer to teach her specifically that grass=good, but that is going to take longer: I suspect that she spent her first few months pottying on cement at a breeder's, then at a rescue shelter, so she's still unsure about grass in general.)

    Anyway, I guess my question is about the concept of a potty spot as opposed to a more general potty area (inside/outside) or potty surface. I want her to know where she's supposed to potty when we're away from my apartment complex, too. So is it okay to just praise her whenever she goes anywhere outside (ETA: including sidewalks)? And is it okay to allow her to walk around for a few minutes and pick her specific spot outdoors? Or do I really need to insist that she goes in X spot of grass every time?

    Curious to hear your thoughts! And thanks for making this forum available to us!

    - Kivrin
    Last edited by Kivrin; November 29th, 2010 at 12:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    There can be a lot of flexibility on this one... some people prefer that the dog go in one very specific spot, other people are satisfied with anyplace that's not inside the house!

    You can certainly have her go in different areas or on a specific surface. The only thing you should avoid for sure is letting her just wander aimlessly for 20 minutes before she goes potty. Keeping her to at least a somewhat small area (this could even be as large an area as your whole block), then taking her for a longer walk or letting her run free in the yard or a safe area as a reward for pottying promptly is the way to go.

    If you don't mind her going on the concrete, I'd definitely praise her for going there, as well as on the grass. If you don't want her to go on the concrete, I'd be very delicate in letting her know about it... definitely no corrections, since she's doing the right thing by going outside. At most, I'd gently guide her to the grass (or lift her up and put her on the grass) if you see her showing signs that she's about to go on the concrete, then praise her like crazy when she finishes on the grass.

    I hope this helps... keep us updated!
    Rebecca
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  3. #3

    Smile Thanks!

    Thanks so much for the feedback, Rebecca! I was probably obsessing too much about the definition of the word "spot." The weather here has been so yucky for the past few days that Olive hasn't been too interested in spending time outdoors, period—so I haven't had to worry about her wandering around and sniffing too much. My basic approach is to walk around a kind of "loop" at the apartment complex—mostly sidewalk with grass borders—and then go back inside if she doesn't potty on that loop; the whole trip takes maybe 5 minutes. When she does have to go, she now reliably does her business within the first minute or two; she gets praised, and then we continue walking around the loop just to get some exercise. I'm mostly fine with her doing her business on the sidewalk; I just worry that some observers might think she's uncouth, ha! But then again, we are in a fairly urban area, so I don't think it's too big of a deal. I definitely praise her either way, grass or sidewalk.

    We did have a bit of a setback yesterday, as I came home at lunch to hear the dog yapping furiously and discovered that she had pooped in her crate. Luckily the mess wasn't too bad, but still—disheartening. However, I suspect that there were two reasons for the accident:
    1. The crate was too big. We were trying to get by with the crate used by my previous dog, who was small but not toy-sized; and
    2. My husband didn't walk her long enough before he left for work. "She wasn't interested! She turned around and went back up to the door!" Well, of COURSE she did—it was pouring rain! But sometimes you have to be the "mean" parent and make the dog go for a walk!

    So last night after work, I came home to find Olive sitting quietly in her (freshly scrubbed) crate. (I think that she only barked earlier to say, "HELP! I POOPED!") Later in the evening, she voluntarily went in the grass and pooped, even in the middle of a downpour! I was so proud. Then I went out and bought her a smaller crate, which she likes just fine. Hoping that the new crate plus longer walk with husband will prevent future in-crate accidents! I'll keep you posted.
    Last edited by Kivrin; December 1st, 2010 at 07:47 AM.

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you're on the right track and you've come up with a logical explanation (or two!) for the crate accident, so that's good! To me, the barking is a good sign. I prefer for a dog to be unhappy about having an accident in the crate... when they're sitting happily and quietly in a poopy crate, I start to worry, since I know another accident may be coming!
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
    and buying your pet supplies through our product partners!

  5. #5

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    I hadn't even thought about that re: the barking, but you're right—it's good that Olive was upset about having an accident in the crate! She is generally very quiet in the crate, so I bet that's totally why she was barking. What a good girl.

    Olive has continued to do well this week. She even squatted and peed just a little bit on our after-dinner walk last night—so she obviously didn't really need to go, but she took advantage of being outside and emptied her bladder anyway. Such a good habit, and I'm glad she's picking that up.

  6. #6
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    Good girl! I call that little pee that they do when they don't really need to go just because they know they're supposed to an "obligatory tinkle"... it's usually a very good sign when they do that, so, congrats!
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
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  7. #7

    Thumbs up Update

    Hey there! Just wanted to provide an update on Olive and ask you about a couple of odds and ends.

    Crate/housetraining is going well. Olive sleeps through the night in her crate and also stays in it without too much fuss whenever we are unable to supervise her. She has had no accidents in the crate since the very first day, when we had tried to use a hand-me-down crate that was too big. No accidents since replacing with a smaller size.

    She potties outside quickly now: If she has to go, she'll do it within the first minute (occasionally a bit longer for #2). She does get distracted sometimes—ah, puppies!—but saying "Do your business" seems to help her get back on task.

    She has had zero unsupervised accidents in the house: We have always caught her in the act and corrected immediately (loud, low-pitched "NO"; loud clap; rush her outside).

    And yet, she still has occasional accidents indoors. I think the longest we've gone without a little pee is 3 or 4 days. And they seem to occur at times when I wasn't expecting her to need to go, maybe 2 hours after going out. So I began to suspect that she wasn't emptying her bladder fully with just one pee outside. So now, if the first pee seems "too short," I try to give her time to pee again before we go back inside—and she often does. Any ideas why that might be happening? Is it just a puppy distraction thing, can't get it all out in one go?

    I've also been working on bell training for 2 weeks now. Every time we go out, I take her little paw and help her ring the bells as I say "outside!" She doesn't mind me touching her feet, isn't scared of the bells…but she's not catching on yet. She has never made any effort to ring the bells on her own. The most "sign" we ever get from her is that she'll go over to the door, then turn around and stare at us across the room. Which is great when we're paying attention, but at some point we were hoping to relax our surveillance just a bit and listen for the bells! Are we expecting too much too soon? Any additional tips on how to get her to use the bells?

    And how about any additional tips on teaching her that pottying inside = bad? She doesn't seem to be particularly chastened when we correct her—more annoyed that we interrupted her, ha! She also seems blasé about the praise we give when she potties outside. She responded at first, but now she's like, "Yeah, whatever, I peed." Would adding treats help reinforce the indoor/outdoor dichotomy? She's not super food-motivated (unlike my previous dog), so I thought that maybe the addition of treats wouldn't be too dangerous…

    Anyway, I've rambled enough, so I'll hush. Would love to hear your thoughts when you have a minute! Hope you're having a great holiday season!
    Last edited by Kivrin; December 23rd, 2010 at 09:46 AM.

  8. #8
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    Glad to hear that things are going pretty well with your little beastie! I'm crazed with all kind of holiday stuff, but wanted to at least get you a quick response to some of your questions...

    Some dogs seem to need (want?) to do multiple pees when they go out even when there are no distractions. If you suspect she's that kind of gal, I'd just plan to stay out for an extra minute to give her plenty of time to fully empty out. Although I generally don't like using treats for housebreaking, I have seen some people do it successfully, so you could give it a try if you want to... I'd make it a last resort, though, and try using more stern corrections and getting the bell training going first.

    Another thought... if you find that she thinks your corrections are no big deal, you might benefit from doing some obedience training with her. It can help her to understand corrections better and make her want to please you more.

    You can check out this thread - http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com...highlight=bell - for more info about bell training that should help you to move forward with it.

    Hope that helps!

    Happy Holidays!!
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
    and buying your pet supplies through our product partners!

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