Are you currently in a housebreaking crisis? Perhaps you are desperately trying to stem the flow of puppy pee but no matter what you do nothing seems to improve? You may even be tempted to punish your pooch for his latest accident?
When I grew up that’s exactly what happened. We were taught to “rub the dog’s nose in it” and informed that this was the only way he would learn. What a horrible way to treat a loving dog or any living being at all.
Dogs are naturally clean animals. They do not want to potty where they live and given a choice they will wander away towards distant grass. That said, puppies must learn and it’s important that we coach them to success, not punish them for failure.
Punishment is a poor way to treat dogs in any circumstance but punishing someone you love for a necessary physical function is downright cruel.
Housebreaking problems in dogs are as individual as the dog himself. The older dog may be developing a bladder infection whilst the puppy may never have actually learned the rules. Let’s take a look at potty training imperfections and the reasons they occur:
The puppy’s body is not ready to hold his water.
A puppy has a tiny bladder that is not completely formed for the first few weeks of his life. This is exactly why puppies pee so frequently. Commonly and dependent on breed, the puppy can hold his water for the space of an hour for every month of his life. It can be even less for first three months.
The puppy has never learned.
It can be tempting to think that the dog who has pottied outside successfully knows the rules. This is not always the case and a puppy may need much more careful coaching to get it right every time. Similarly the older dog may never have learned the housebreaking rules-particularly if he has been in kennels for a while.
The dog owner misses the dog’s requests.
This is very common particularly with the dog that is lacking self-confidence. A simple glance could easily be the dog asking to go outside then if ignored what choice does the dog have?
The dog is sick.
Any condition ranging from kidney problems to heart related medication can lead to bowel control problems. Similarly if the dog is getting on in years and the muscles are weakening he won’t be able to hold himself very long at all.
The dog is left alone for too long or is suffering separation anxiety.
An anxious dog naturally and quickly pees as a stress reaction. So if your dog is alone for a long time and you come back to accidents then you have to look very carefully at the well-being of the animal.
Do any of the above reasons for accidents in the home leave you believing that punishment is a fair response?
Potty Training Punishers – What Do They Achieve?
Punishment during potty training will have some specific effects on your dog. Not one of the effects will be positive and most will be very negative. The negativity is unsurprising, particularly if we look at why dogs fail at housebreaking in the first place.
The effects of potty training punishers include:
Making the dog scared of you.
Fear will increase the need to toilet and punishment becomes an ever increasing cycle of confusion and sadness.
Coprophagia. This is the act of eating poo. The dog that is punished for poor potty training may be so desperate to please you that he eats his own poo to get rid of it before you see it.
Breakdown of trust.
When the dog expects to be punished by something out of his control he will see you as volatile and confusing. Do you trust anyone that takes a randomly angry approach with you? Why put your dog in that position?
An ineffective result.
Punishment does not work when training dogs, even when it happens at the time the dog carries out an unwanted behavior. Punishment for toileting given after the fact is not going to stop your dog needing to pee, in fact it will achieve no positive result at all.
So, rather than follow the trail of our ancestors and rubbing the dog’s nose in his pee why not learn from present day findings and coach him towards successful potty training instead?
To learn more about why punishment doesn’t work take a look here.
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