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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18963
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I'm having extreme difficulty potty training my 6 month old

Customer Question

I'm having extreme difficulty potty training my 6 month old cocker spaniel. I've tried consistency, long walks, keeping him in a size appropriate crate when unattended, taking him immediately outside when seeing accidents & using the spray that attracts dogs to pee a certain place [with puppy pads].
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 11 months ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I see that you have tried putting him in a crate when unattended but it doesn't sound like you have done strict crate training yet. It is the quickest method to house train a dog. AT 6 months of age, he should be able to hold it for at least 4-6 hours, so it is likely just that he needs to be taught to hold it.

Below you will find the way I crate train dogs, which has worked consistently for 15 years. If you have other dogs you will need to separate them when taking them out to go to the bathroom, as they will want to play rather than potty. I would also always take your dog outside on a leash. An unleashed dog can run into the street and get hit by a car, or get into a fight with another dog and be seriously injured. Do this even if you have a fenced yard. No playing with your puppy during potty time either.

During crate training, you will be having your dog confined either in a crate or confined to a very small area which optimally will only allow the dog room to lay down in. Dogs will generally not soil an area where they sleep. When you feed or give your dog water, take the dog immediately outside to go to the bathroom. Also take the dog out first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after extended play times and when they wake up after a nap. Take your dog to an area where you want your dog to go and preferably one that has been used previously. Allow your dog approximately 10-15 minutes to go to the bathroom. If your dog doesn't produce, take your dog inside and cage them again. If your dog does produce results allow him some uncrated time as a reward before crating or containing the dog again.

If your dog didn't go to the bathroom, take your dog out again about 30 minutes later and repeat this until your dog goes. Praise your dog profusely when your dog succeeds and is on the leash. This will teach your dog that it needs to go when you take your dog out and not play around first. You can also give a small treat like a hot dog sliver the minute they start eliminating outside.

Some dogs learn quicker than others do, but once you have your dog going when it is on the leash and each time you take your dog out, you should be able to stop containing your dog. It is a lot of work, but pays off in the long run. Remember no playing or praise until your dog succeeds in going outside on a leash.

The key is no time outside of the crate unless you can have your eye on them constantly to pick them up and take them out if you see the classic sign of impending bowel movement or urination. Also, scolding a dog for going in the house does no good unless you catch them in the act. If you do catch them, a firm NO and trip outside should be done. Remember to clean any area inside they have gone with a good pet deodorizing cleaner. Here is a site with more information on crate training.

http://www.inch.com/~dogs/cratetraining.html

This is how I house train all my dogs. In addition, put a bell or other noise maker on the door low enough for the dog to reach. Each time you take the dog out, ring the bell. The dog will associate ringing the bell with going out and one day ring the bell to signal to you that he needs to go out.

Another thing that often helps them get the message is feeding them outside. This is more helpful when they are small because they almost always stop eating and move off to eliminate when they are small pups. This gets them used to eliminating on dirt and grass. If they are used to that substrate it is easier for them to make the connection that grass is where they should be going.

Taking him out after he has gone inside doesn't really help. If you can't have him in a crate. leash him to you so he is always in your sight. One suggestion would be to start feeding and watering him on a schedule. Keep a log of when you feed him and give him water. also keep a log of when he defecates or urinates. Soon you will see a pattern develop as to how long after eating or drinking he eliminates. This will allow you to either be sure he is outside when he needs to eliminate or move his meal time so the time he would need to eliminate is more convenient for you.

There are other methods if you do want him eliminating inside and not learning to hold it. If you want those, let me know and I'll give you those methods.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer so I am compensated for my time.

If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well.

Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms.

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/

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