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Small dogs and housetraining

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013, at 1:44 PM

Small dogs are a lot of attitude wrapped up in a tiny package. They're known for their strong personalities and independent nature. Small dogs can be notoriously difficult to train, and some even go years before seemingly forgetting all their training and relapsing.

If your dog never quite mastered potty training or has forgotten what they learned, you've no doubt got problems with odor and stains. Most of us try our best to housetrain our dogs but that behavior isn't always picture-perfect.

Dogs might eliminate outside for a while but begin urinating in the house again for a variety of reasons. Some dogs urinate indoors when they are scared, excited, or anxious (especially in the case of separation anxiety). Sometimes dogs urinate inside because they have been left home alone for too long with no appropriate place to eliminate. In other cases, your pooch might piddle indoors because they smell another pet's urine. (And yes, some dog lovers claim that their pets urinate inside to "test their limits" and see what they can get away with.)

A common solution is to try to get around the issue by giving your dog an "approved" indoor location in which to urinate. It's a reasonable option for owners who have to leave the house for long periods of time, or who have dogs that refuse to eliminate in inclement weather. It's also a convenient choice if the human is unable to take their dog outside frequently or if the dog's bladder cannot hold urine for very long.

When teaching a dog where it is "safe" to urinate indoors, I recommend using pee pads. This is an easy way to train your dog to urinate indoors in an appropriate place. These pads typically consist of an absorbent material backed in plastic and are designed to soak up urine, making cleanup easier and "accidents" less likely.

Getting a dog or puppy to use a pee pad is easy. Just follow these five easy steps and your dog will be using them in no time.

Step 1 - Place the pad in the same spot repeatedly. Putting the pad in the same place will help the dog become accustomed to new rules about going to the bathroom. Remember: repetition is good.

Step 2 - Bring the dog over to the pee pad whenever you think they might have to urinate: first thing in the morning, right before bed, after extended play time, a deep drink of water, or a long nap. This is especially important for puppies because they don't have a large bladder. If your dog is fully grown, wait 15 to 30 minutes after drinking before coaxing him over to the pad and encouraging him to eliminate.

Step 3 - Reward elimination on the pad. Keep a box of treats handy so that when your dog has successfully done his business on the pad, you can quickly reward him. Positive reinforcement is the key to housetraining.

Step 4 - Don't respond negatively when dealing with the pads. Many owners will react with yells and pointing when they see that their pet has had an accident near the pad or that they have chewed on the pad. Don't make this mistake! Dogs will associate any negativity with the pads themselves, which will undo your hard work.

Step 5 - When you leave, place the pee pad in the room/area where your dog will be. This will help reinforce that this is where your dog should go to the bathroom while you're gone. Soon your dog will learn to go independently of you and your schedule.

With these 5 steps, the transition to pee pads should be much easier for you and your dog. Don't forget: pee pads are no replacement for healthy walks with your dog.

If you have questions about housetraining contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood at catdoc56@pcsii.com

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