Q: I just bought a new puppy, and we are having a hard time house training – nothing seems to be working! What do you recommend? – Lisa C. from Shaler
A: Positive reinforcement! Reinforcing any good, “wanted” behaviors is key in any kind of training. When you take your puppy outside to go to the bathroom, bring a few training treats with you (if you’re looking for a training treat, any small snack will work, but we like Tricky Trainers from CloudStar).
Use the same phrases each time, and make sure you stick with them. For example, when you want your puppy to go, say something like “go to the bathroom” or “do your business.”
Consistency is another key concept of any puppy training. When your puppy goes to the bathroom, make sure you praise him or her with words, petting, or treats. It’s important for puppies to know they are doing the right thing – all dogs associate rewards with behaviors. Imagine your pup thinking, “If I go to the bathroom outside, I receive a snack. I like snacks, so going to the bathroom outside must be the right thing for me to do.” You want to reinforce this. Do not yell, scream, hit, or negatively reinforce your pup’s behaviors when he or she goes to the bathroom inside – just ignore it.
Lastly, make sure your puppy does not have some type of underlying issue that is preventing him or her from practicing proper house manners. A urinary tract infection, for example, can cause your dog to go more than usual – both in frequency and in the amount of urine. Keep your eye out for any signs or symptoms of this kind of infection. Don’t get frustrated, and just remember – positive reinforcement!