House training. Those are two words that can give you a sigh of relief or take the wind right out of you, depending on where you are in the cycle of the house training process. If you have a dog that is house trained, you know how exhilarating it is to have a dog that has learned the importance of relieving herself on a schedule or communicating to you when she needs to take a potty break. However, if you are just beginning in the process or simply thinking about the process, you may be dwelling on some of the house training horror stories you have heard in the past. Before you become completely overwhelmed by the task ahead of you, make sure you are aware of some of the most common myths when it comes to house training your dog.
MYTH 1: My dog will learn to go outside if I discipline her in the act and put her outside
Discipline like spanking and/or scolding while your dog is in the act of going to the bathroom will not help her learn where the appropriate place to use the restroom actually is. In fact, the discipline could actually work against your house training efforts. Your dog may become more fearful to use the restroom in front of you and begin using the restroom in hiding. This could cause plenty of hidden accidents that you may or may not find right away. The fear may become so high that your dog may not even relieve herself when you want her to outside.
The proper way to react if you catch your dog in the act or about to relieve herself is to interrupt her and encourage her to hold it while you get her outside. House training your dog is a process and there will be accidents. Those in fact are just accidents, not a dog that is deliberately trying to disobey your requests. House training requires time and a lot of supervision on your part to help your dog learn that going outside is what pleases you.
MYTH 2: You can teach your dog not to go in the house by rubbing her face in the mess or by disciplining her in the mess.
Finding an accident after the fact and taking your dog to the mess and rubbing her face in it or disciplining her there will not help her learn your expectations for going to the bathroom. Dogs have a short memory and will not connect the act of discipline with the act of going to the bathroom inside. They may think they are in trouble for the immediate previous action, whether it was sleeping, playing or even eating. Worse yet, by rubbing your dog’s face in their mess, they may begin to understand they are getting in trouble for actually going and try to remove all of the evidence by eating their fecal matter. This is definitely not an action you want to promote, as fecal waste can be very dangerous to dogs – especially if this action turns into them eating any fecal matter they see. There are many diseases that are spread to dogs through feces.
The best course of action for finding an accident after the fact is to simply clean it up, and make an effort to stay on a schedule of taking your dog outside in an effort to allow her to relieve herself. By paying more attention and being around more during house training you will be able to proactively encourage your dog to go outside to do her business.
MYTH 3: My dog knows she shouldn’t be going to the bathroom inside because she looks guilty when I scold her
A dog’s natural response to discipline is fear and submissive body language as their way of pleading you to stop the aggression. Just because your dog appears to look guilty, does not mean she actually knows what she did was wrong. Your dog is simply reacting to your threatening actions. Dogs learn best through positive learning – fear will only teach your dog to be scared of you and to try and hide their natural actions from you.
MYTH 4: My dog is not bright enough or too stubborn to catch on to house training
Dogs have a natural need to please you, the owner. They are not rebellious teenagers choosing to do the exact opposite of what you want merely in spite. Nor are the too dumb to learn through proper training to use the bathroom outside. While it may be hard to hear, the reason people may think this is because they are not training their dog effectively or allowing their dog enough time to learn how to become house trained.
We cannot say it enough, persistence and positive reinforcement is the best course of action when working on house training your dog. It will not happen overnight and will require constant supervision while you teach and reward your dog for going to the restroom outdoors. Understanding that this process can be frustrating, but staying calm and patient is the best training tools you can have to positively keep your dog on track to learning your desired expectations for relieving herself.
Dr. Susan Wright has more than a decade of experience in a private veterinarian practice. As a dog bark collar expert and author. Susan enjoys creating articles, that share tips for proper care to dog owners.