So, you have already learned how to potty train your dog or puppy, in this guide we are going to learn potty training your dog on command. There are many advantages derived from this training. For instance, if you are traveling with your dog, you may find it helpful when you stop in a relief area, or if it’s cold outside, you may wish not to turn into a snowman by the time your dog is done going potty. Training your dog to eliminate on command is fairly easy; all you really need is a bit of patience and some rewards. The best part is that you can train this even to very young puppies and this simple command can really help expedite the potty training process.
Capturing the Moment
To train a dog to eliminate on command, you need to use a training method known as “capturing.” You must basically observe your dog’s natural behaviors unfold and “capture” the ones you like. Dogs engage in many spontaneous behaviors that we may find appealing; so let’s not let natural behaviors go wasted! At the same time, we need to provide the dog with some important pieces of information. One of them is letting the dog now that we like the behavior and wish it to repeat. This is accomplished by marking the wanted behavior with a verbal marker such as “yes!,” or alternatively, using a clicker. Immediately afterward, we need to add a reward so that the dog has an incentive to want to repeat desired behaviors. In training a dog to eliminate on command, we will need to put together all these pieces of information so the dog clearly understands what we want and then we will need to put the behavior on cue.
Choosing the Area
Dogs tend to be creatures of habit, so it’s not a bad idea to pick an area where your dog already eliminates on a routine basis. If you have a yard, pick one side and make it the designated potty area. It helps to use an area where you have seen your dog eliminate frequently in the past.
Choosing the Time
To set your dog for success, pick a time when you are fairly sure your dog needs to eliminate. The best time is usually in the morning when you know your dog will need to eliminate since he hasn’t been going potty for all night. Another good time is when you come home for work and you know your dog hasn’t gone potty for a while.
Make sure you pick a good reward to motivate your dog when you are training. Most dogs are food motivated and enjoy a variety of treats. To train your dog to eliminate, pick high-value treats your dog seems to enjoy and looks forward to eating.
Choosing the Command
You will also need to choose a command to use when you want your dog to eliminate. Make sure you always use the same command and that your family members use the same said in the same tone of voice. Some people prefer saying “hurry up!” or “go potty” but you can virtually use any command as long as it’s not too long of a sentence.
Getting Started : Step-by-Step
So now that you have chosen a designated potty area and a good time to get started, you can initiate the training required to get your dog to eliminate on cue. Here are the steps to get started.
- Let your dog outside to the designated potty area.
- Watch your dog for signs that he is about to eliminate.
- The moment your dog squats, say the command.
- When your dog eliminates, mark the behavior with a verbal marker or a clicker.
- Immediately reward by giving your dog his favorite treats.
Training your dog to eliminate on cue requires some time and patience, but eventually most dogs learn. If you aren’t seeing any progress and are having difficulties, you will need to do some troubleshooting. Following are some tips and solutions for some common problems.
- Is the designated potty area too distracting? When you send your dog out, noises or the presence of other people or dogs may distract your dog and he may be reluctant to go potty. In this case, make sure you choose a quiet area free of distractions.
- Leash your dog. If your dog tends to wander off to engage in other activities, it may help to keep your dog leashed until he goes potty. Once your dog goes potty, you can praise and reward with a treat. On top of that, if your dog loves to wander in the yard, you can also take off the leash as a reward.
- Unleash your dog. On the other hand, some dogs may be inhibited by the leash. If that’s the case, you can try with a long line or leave your dog off leash. Be patient and follow your dog. Your dog may wish to sniff the area and make sure he is safe before eliminating.
- Make sure to use good timing. It is crucial that you are very swift in providing your dog with information. Right the moment your dog squats, say the command, immediately mark the behavior with your verbal marker or clicker and then give the reward. To ensure good timing, follow your dog closely. If your yard is very large, it may be a good idea to fence off a small potty area.
- After repeating the steps above for some time, you can try this test to see if you dog has learned to potty on command. Send your dog outside and say “go potty” or your chosen command before your dog squats. If your dog has learned the command well, he will squat and go potty upon hearing the command.
- Once your dog understands the command well, you can teach him to generalize going in other places. Try taking your dog in other areas and with more distractions around and saying the command. With time, the behavior should become almost reflexive so you can apply it when traveling, on walks or on those cold days when the last thing you want to do is spending time waiting for your dog to come back inside.