How to Potty Train a Dog With Positive Reinforcement
One iron rule of dog training will always serve you well: The most effective way to train your dog is also the most pleasant method for both of you. It’s called Positive Reinforcement. Here’s how to potty train a dog using this method:
The key to the Positive Reinforcement method is the use of praise, affection and rewards to give your dog a strong incentive to behave appropriately. You want your puppy to be eager to do the right thing, because she wants to be rewarded for it.
For potty training this means praise, affection or rewarding with a treat when your puppy goes where you want, and withholding any reward or praise when the pup has an accident.
An incentive to get rewards and pleasure from doing well is always more powerful than fear of punishment. This principle works just as well on older dogs too.
Applying Positive Reinforcement
When your puppy successfully goes outside, or in the place you’ve designated (such as on a mat), give her a healthy treat and say “good dog” or some other words of praise. Overact a little, and show real joy over it. If giving a treat is not possible, then remember the importance of affectionate touch. Rub your puppy’s head or give her a good belly rub. Love your puppy up enthusiastically when she does well.
When the little tyke has an accident, you deliberately withhold affection and praise. Put the puppy in its kennel or crate for awhile. Withhold any treats. Ignore the puppy no matter how fervently she pleads for affection. Let the dog know how disappointed you are.
Remember the Importance of Timing
Both your rewards and your denials must be immediate so that the puppy always associates reward with the good behavior, and denial of the things he or she wants with bad behavior.
Do not hit your dog with a rolled up newspaper or rub its nose in urine or feces after you discover the waste. These forms of “discipline” are actually Negative Reinforcement. Your puppy usually cannot associate his mistake with your punishment, because too much time has elapsed between the two. This confuses your puppy and anxiety will make the whole experience of going to the potty unpleasant. Consider the possibility that an anxious dog may be more likely to have accidents.
You must reward and withhold rewards in the same way each time. Use the same phrases in the same tone of voice in each situation. Don’t be casual or slack off when praising or rewarding, and don’t fail to withhold reward when it’s appropriate.
You might try using a commercial spray to deposit dog urine scent in the places you want your dog to go. Dogs think with their noses – they select spots where they smell dog waste for going to the potty.
Avoid using ammonia as a cleaner in your house, since dog urine smells of ammonia. Use a cleaner specially designed to eliminate odor when you clean up after your dog has an accident. You can find these products in any good pet store.