The moment I realized I was turning into a Behavior Analyst Nerd was the moment I told my fiance that I wanted us to get a puppy that was not yet potty-trained so that I could create a program based on behavioral principles to train him.
I figured that if I can train children and teens based on these principles (and if behaviorism was originated with animal studies) I could easily implement toilet training programs from work with my new dog…just without the toilet.
And now I am here to share the tricks!
Potty-training can be a hurdle without previous experiences, and with the new creation of puppy pads, it is easy to put off the undesirable task. When the going gets tough, let the puppy pee on the pad, right?
Well, I am here to tell you that it isn’t necessary. In fact, you could have your dog potty-trained within a couple days.
Don’t believe me? Try this plan!
Step one: Sort through your schedule and find 3-4 days when you can be around 24/7 to train your dog. Weekends are most often the best time. Although it may be a sacrifice to be at home all weekend, it is well worth it in the end. Plus, if you do not live alone, feel free to share the task! The only requirement is that someone is home at all times with the puppy.
Step two: Discover your puppy’s favorite treats. Place all edible treats and fun toys in front of your puppy at once. Pay attention to which items he or she moves toward/eats/plays with first. The first item that he or she selects will be used as the highly-preferred reinforcer. Keep record of the order in which the puppy selects the other items. This is important because you want to ensure that your new pup will be motivated to earn his treats and toys! (Hint: he will only obtain the highly-preferred treat when he goes to the bathroom outside).
**If this step is unreasonable or if you do not have the time or variety of treats, I recommend either Merrick grain free + gluten free power bites or Cloud Star tricky trainers. They range from 2-5 calories per treat and are small enough you can reinforce each instance outdoor release!
Step three: Next, it is time to start training! Be sure to remove any access to the puppy’s top two choices of treats or toys. This is very important. Next, follow the schedule provided at the bottom of this post. The time indicated is the time in which the puppy must go outside. You should remain outside at least five minutes to provide enough opportunity for the dog to use the bathroom.
If the puppy goes to the bathroom outside: Provide the puppy with praise (hugs, smiles, and “nice job!!”) and his favorite treat immediately after he is done. Remember, this is the treat or toy that he chose first in the array of items you presented in step two. He will only gain access to this treat when he goes to the bathroom outside. If the favorite item is a toy, allow him or her access to the toy for five minutes and then take it away.
If the puppy starts to go to the bathroom in the house: Immediately pick up the puppy, say “no” in a firm tone, and place him outside to finish. If he finishes going to the bathroom outside, still provide the treat. However, this is a challenge and it didn’t happen with us! Make sure to stay outside with the puppy for five minutes and mark this accident on your chart. Continue the schedule as formatted. For example, if the puppy has an accident at 9:15 a.m. in the home, do not skip the 9:30 time slot.
The purpose in taking your puppy outside so often is to hopefully avoid any opportunities at an accident. If accidents do occur, say “no” and do not provide any toys, treats or praise.
Ideally, this training can be completed in just a few. If it is followed exactly, your puppy should be using the bathroom outside in no time.
Step four: Comment questions and share your experiences below!
I hope this training program helps you get over the potty-training hurdle with your puppy 🙂
Considerations: If your puppy eats or drinks water, take him out after. This is in addition to the potty schedule. It may seem like you are spending a lot of time outside, but you will be surprised how effective the plan can be. Also, this plan will last you a couple days. Once the data sheet is filled out, your puppy may not be completely trained. It will be important to keep an eye on him and to take him out immediately after eating and drinking. However, by this point, the concept will be understood, and he will most likely bark, cry, or walk to the door when he or she needs to go out.