Playpens are useful tools that can keep your dogs safe and out of trouble. But cleaning up after your dog every day can be tiresome, and the damage to your expensive flooring could be permanent.
Just as time and effort goes into potty training a toddler, potty training your dog requires time, effort, and patience as your dog learns what is acceptable and what is not. As you set out to train your dog not to use the playpen as a potty, keep in mind that your dog is more intelligent than you may think and is eager to please you.
Select Your Command Words
Dogs are intelligent creatures that have evolved to associate certain words with different meanings. They can even be trained to answer simple questions with “yes” and “no” buttons. Similarly, you can train your dog to associate words with meanings. An important thing to remember is that once you select your words, they should remain the same or your dog may become confused. Use the same words for all your dogs to maintain consistency.
Choose a positive word that infers a positive meaning to serve as positive reinforcement. This can be any word such as “yes” or “good”. Remember to keep this word the same for all positive reinforcement. When you use positive reinforcement, you are showing your dog what they should be doing. This should accompany rewards to provide further reinforcement and help your dog associate good things with your chosen word.
Negative reinforcement is used to let your dog know that they have done something wrong. This needs to be a sharp word that can jolt them out of their action. Simple words such as “no” or “hey” are effective to use for this purpose. You can use a sharp sound instead of a word if you prefer. Note that negative reinforcement does not mean punishment. It is simply letting your dog know that what they are doing is wrong.
Designate an Area for Your Dog to Use
To prevent your dog from using the playpen as an area for eliminating, you must first designate an area for your dog to use as a potty. Cover the area with puppy pads to make clean up simple.
If your dog begins to chew on the puppy pads, do not yell or make a loud noise or your dog may think that it is a game. Remain calm and hold onto the puppy pad until the dog lets go. Then use positive reinforcement by using your positive word and a treat to let your dog know that he or she has done the right thing. A helpful way to keep your puppy from chewing up the puppy pads is to tape them to the floor if your flooring allows for it. Keep the designated area away from the playpen.
Take your dog or puppy to the designated area several times a day to familiarize them with the area and replace the pads each time your dog uses them. Use these trips to the potty area as an opportunity to practice leash or obedience training. Put your dog or puppy on a leash and walk him or her to the designated area. You need to do this every hour and after they eat, sleep or play. As overwhelming as it may sound to take your dog to their potty area so often, it is so important in speeding up the potty-training process.
Watch for the Signs
When you see your dog sniffing the ground while pacing back and forth, remove your dog from the playpen immediately and escort him or her to the designated potty area. Every time your dog pees or poops in the designated area, use positive reinforcement and a reward to show the dog that this is the right thing to do. It is important to do this while they are peeing or pooping and not after.
Make the Playpen Smaller
Another helpful way to encourage your dog not to use the playpen as a potty is by making the playpen smaller. Dogs have a natural inclination to create for themselves a den. The den is a safe place where the dog can go to sleep and to feel safe. Making the playpen small enough to accommodate just a bed prevents the dog from eliminating in the playpen because dogs are clean creatures and do not go out where they intend to sleep. As they learn where the right place to go out is, you can begin to increase the size of the playpen.
Be sure to take your dog to the designated area every hour so that they do not get desperate and resort to using the playpen as a potty.
What You Should Do If Your Dog Messes Up
Your dog may not get it right the first time, or even the first few days. So, if you find pee on your carpet, do not resort to yelling, rubbing the dog’s nose in the mess or punishment. This only makes matters worse, and your dog may become fearful, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to potty training.
If you notice your dog peeing or pooping in the wrong place, pick him up swiftly and head to the potty area. Chances are, he has not completed his deed. Once he is done, use positive reinforcement to encourage this behavior.
Training Your Dog to go Outside
Training your dog to eliminate outside is ideal for most people. The great thing with training them to use puppy pads is that when you do need to keep your dog indoors because of poor weather conditions, your dog already knows to use the puppy pad. If you intend to move your designated area to the outside, a good tip is to have your designated area near a door. As your puppy or dog becomes accustomed to using this area to pee or poop, you can move the designated area closer to door, onto the porch and eventually to the garden. Continue to use positive and negative reinforcement and take your dog outside the playpen regularly to prevent accidents in the home.
Dogs are intelligent creatures that want to please their humans. Knowing the right things to say and do to encourage your dog not to use the playpen as a potty is crucial. If you follow these steps and find that your dog is still using the playpen to eliminate, remember that potty training takes lots of time, effort, patience, and persistence. When your dog does it right, reinforce good behavior, avoiding the need to react negatively to mistakes. You should soon notice that your playpen is a clean, happy place, and is no longer a potty for your four-legged friend.