Before we continue with the text below (Part 2 of “Toilet-training Puppies” (T-TP), it is necessary for me to respond to comments made by a few dog lovers about a sentence included in last week’s article that elicited some measure of disfavor. My esteemed colleague, who was so kind as to permit us to use her comprehensive documentation dealing with “T-TP”, mentioned that certain practices of many people to rub the pup’s nose in the faeces as a methodology to toilet-train a puppy is akin to being an animal abuser. Perhaps my veterinary colleague’s choice of words might have been considered by some sensitive dog lovers/caregivers to be a bit harsh. The truth is that my colleague went to great lengths to explain why rubbing a pup’s nose in its own mess, (perhaps even with some few slaps for good measure), is not a good training method, especially since there are other actions which one can take to solve the problem. Such action is more the result of non-knowledge of correct measures which can be taken to address the problems associated with “potty”-training. Sharing such solutions within the context of “Pet Care” is exactly why Guyana Times has this Sunday Feature. And the response to the column is most encouraging. Also, we truly appreciate the comments and questions offered by our readers.
Having clarified the matter, let us now absorb the wise words of our colleague as we continue with Part 2 of this interesting aspect of puppy rearing.
In the last week’s article, (Guyana Sunday Times, June 28, 2020), we started to look at how to humanely toilet train your new puppy.
We learned that bowel and bladder control in dogs does not start to develop until the puppy is around 12 weeks old, and that in some breeds that development can take as long as six to 12 months. We established that the puppy is not messing everywhere to spite you or because he is naughty, but because he genuinely cannot help himself.
We looked at the meaning of toilet training – work is involved, so you cannot be disinterested and inactive. We discussed how to toilet train puppies using newspapers/urine pads and through crating by taking advantage of the natural instinct of puppies to keep their dens clean. Today, we continue with establishing a routine of elimination after meals.
Dogs naturally choose to go to the toilet on a porous surface. Unfortunately, this does not only include grass but also carpet and rugs. Our job is to teach the dog to discriminate between places that are suitable and those that are not.
Remember, a dog that messes on the carpet or your floor is not being deliberately naughty, just acting normally. Accidents happen. Never punish a dog for messing where he should not. You will make him afraid to go, especially in front of you, and may cause him to become constipated. Never ever take your puppy to the mess and rub his nose in it – this is animal abuse.
Dogs need to toilet in association with how often they eat. Eating stimulates reflex bowel movement. Therefore, if a dog is fed once a day, it is usual for defecation occur once a day, two meals a day means two defecations a day etc. Puppies normally urinate within 15 minutes of eating, and poop within 30 minutes of eating although this varies with each individual.
Feed regular meals and cater to go outside with your puppy on harness and leash to his “spot” and wait with him until he does. Routine and reward are important.
In addition, potty breaks are important during the day so schedule to take your puppy outside at least once every hour – his bladder is tiny and will fill quickly so he generally needs to urinate every hour. Playtime can also stimulate bowel activity so after a play session, take him outdoors to his “spot”.
The reason you should be taking your puppy to the same “spot” for toileting is to establish a spatial as well as a scent association with the area so the puppy know where to go. Scent marks convey information to dogs, and the smell of an old scent mark will induce the perpetrator to top up the messages. This is why the puppy keeps messing the same place. This toilet behaviour is different from marking behaviour although the scent concept is the same.
It is therefore important that all incorrect areas that have been soiled are thoroughly cleaned on the puppy will continue to be attracted to toilet in those areas. Household cleaners containing ammonia and chlorine, strongly perfumed disinfectants and air fresheners should not be used. The most successful method involves firstly scrubbing the area with a warm ten percent solution of a biological washing powder in order to remove the protein components of the urine, rinsing with cold water and allowing the area to dry. This should be followed up by spraying with an alcohol such as surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol or methylated spirit), to deal with the fatty deposits. After cleaning, the area must be allowed to dry thoroughly before the dog is given access to it again.
The most important aspect of toilet training your puppy is the establishment of a routine, so ensure you put in the time – it will be worth it. Also, remember to scoop the poop and discard to keep your family and your dog healthy.
Allow me again to thank Dr. Kristel-Marie Ramnauth for her immediate willingness to allow the PET CARE Column to use her article on Toilet-training Puppies.
Next week we will dealt with “Puppy Nutrition”.