Commandment #10

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THOU SHALT TEACH YOUR DOG TO GO POTTY PROMPTLY ON COMMAND

Nothing’s more frustrating than standing outside in the rain waiting endlessly for your dog to do his business, or having him stare blankly at you when you try to get him to go potty in a new location. If you don’t want to spend half your life waiting out in the cold, you’ll need to teach your dog to go potty in a hurry!

It’s helpful to teach your puppy a command that tells him he should go potty here and now. This way, you’re able to get him to go quickly and you can tell him when a new area is an OK place for him to do his thing. You can use any phrase like “hurry up” (or “go potty,” “do your business,” “get busy,” etc.) – just make sure it’s not something you’ll be embarrassed to say in public. In the beginning, your puppy won’t know what that phrase means, so don’t just go out there and start saying it. You’ll teach him to associate the words “hurry up” with the act of going potty by repeating the command in a calm, happy voice WHILE he’s going potty. The whole time he’s squatting down or lifting his leg peeing or pooing, you’ll repeat, “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up…”; when he’s finished, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is.

After doing this for 2-3 weeks, you’ll start to be able to say “hurry up” when you take him to his potty area to prompt him to go. He’ll start to associate those words with going potty in the right area and you’ll have him going on command!

If your dog has a serious habit of taking forever to go potty when you take him outside, you may have to work a bit harder to solve the problem. Do you stand in the yard endlessly while your dog sniffs the grass and chases squirrels, then take him inside immediately after he goes potty? Or maybe take him for a fun walk around the neighborhood that ends promptly when he finally gets around to doing his business? This is one of the most common mistakes that owners make, and it can cause big problems. Think about it: your puppy is having a fun time in the great outdoors, and you’re teaching him that his good times end as soon as he goes potty. So he learns to hold it as long as possible so he’ll get a nice, long walk or get to chase a few more squirrels.

To motivate your dog to go potty promptly when you take him out, you’ll need to do the opposite: Teach him the fun begins only after he’s gone potty in the right place. In your puppy’s mind, something negative used to happen when he went potty then had to go right inside. Now the walk or playtime becomes the reward for going potty.

The trick to making this new plan work is starting it on a day when you can dedicate a few hours in the morning to hanging around the house supervising your dog. You’ll get up in the morning and take him outside to the area where you want him to potty – preferably an out-of-the-way corner of the yard, or the grassy area closest to your front door if you’re going to be taking him out for a walk. Stand there with your puppy on his leash and wait for him to go potty. Don’t walk around much, since we want him to get bored enough with the sights, smells and sounds that he puts his mind to pottying instead of checking out the scenery.

We’re going to give your dog 2 minutes in his potty area. If he goes, praise him like crazy and take him for a walk, or take him off the leash and let him play in the yard. If he doesn’t go, take him back in the house, supervise him closely for 20 minutes, then try the same thing again. Give him outdoor playtime or a walk only after he successfully goes potty within the first 2 minutes he’s outside. Once he recognizes the pattern of having fun only after he goes potty, he’ll be anxious to get out there and get the job done so he can get out there and see the world!

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