“Watch where you step! We haven’t poop scooped in a while”. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get your dog to go to the bathroom in one spot? It sure is! That’s right! It’s possible, and it’s WONDERFUL. How? Ritual and repetition… Here is the list of ingredients and the recipe for the reduction of your clean-up time! Enjoy the reduced waste and burn marks on your yard!
A Designated Space. Before you train, you must have a set area for your dog to use as its potty space. Everyone involved in the dog’s training should understand where this is. Make it easy for the humans and canines alike to quickly tell exactly where the potty area is. For example, I suggest using a bark mulched area or a pine straw area. This way, urine and feces will not burn your grass, and the dog will know when its feet have made it the right spot. Even if you move or go to a friend’s house, the dog can relieve itself off of the green space. If that’s not what you’d like, come up with another way for your dog to easily tell either visually or texturally.
A Designated Phrase. You will need to use cue words. You can use “hurry up”, “go potty”, “be quick”, or whatever works best for you. Everyone involved must use the same phrase. Before you train the spot, train the phrase to your dog. To do this: bring your dog out on a leash each time it has to go. Capture the action of going to the bathroom using your phrase. As soon as they start to go start repeating your chosen phrase over and over in a praise tone while your dog is doing their business. As soon as they stop, so do you. This way, they connect your phrase with the action of going. Once you have trained in this way for a week to ten days, you have prepared this ingredient and are ready for the recipe. Do not use your phrase as a command prior to their action until you have moved on to the recipe part of the training.
A Designated Path. At least at first, your dog must go down the same path to get to its bathroom every time it goes out. Make sure that the same door, the same path, and the same target area are used to show your dog the way to its “place of business.” Later you can show the dog alternative ways to its space, but first make sure there is only one pathway to success so that your dog doesn’t get confused.
Each time you take your dog out to do its business, put the dog on a 6 foot fixed leash (no retractable leashes – hear “no wire hangers” and you will know exactly how I feel about them). Go out the same door, and quickly move to their target area using your designated path. Then stand still. Do not allow the dog to smell the whole yard. A 6 foot radius is more than enough to find their spot. Say your designated phrase one time in your command tone. Wait. As soon as they go to the bathroom, again capture their good work using your designated phrase in praise tone repeatedly during the conduct of business. As soon as they finish, give the command “Inside!” and run back to their designated door using their designated pathway. Congratulate them using enthusiastic petting and verbal praise when they arrive! Throw your dog a party!
If you always do your ritual in exactly this way, you will get a dog that goes to the door and asks for relief, then goes to a target space, does its business, and comes right back. Make sure that if you are going to play in the yard, do your ritual, including the return and celebration portion, prior to letting your dog back out to the yard to play or go for a walk.
© 2013 Well Mannered Dog Training Charleston, SC