potty training

Basics of Dog Training

Dog Training


Dog Training

As humans and the more intelligent of the species, we must learn how dogs communicate in order to communicate with them. The human half of the pair is usually the smarter party, but watching the usual training sessions one can have legitimate reason to wonder.

Dogs understand and respond at roughly the mental level of a human two-year-old, but there the similarity ends. Their senses operate differently – their color vision has a different response pattern to reds and greens, for example, and obviously their noses are infinitely more sensitive – and their minds process information differently as well. Anyone training dogs has to take this into account in order to avoid human frustration and canine misbehavior.

Dogs are pack animals by nature. Descendant from wolves – where even the ‘lone wolf’ is an anomaly – they’re social and function best with active interplay and within a strict hierarchy.

So, set aside half-an-hour per day, an hour would be better, for at least the first few months of training. You can begin training your dog as soon as possible. Some puppies can be started as early as four weeks old.

Elimination (‘potty’) training details we leave for elsewhere, but all training follows similar guidelines.

Establish your dominance with your dog as soon as possible. Dogs have a hierarchy – there are alpha dogs, beta dogs, and on down to the omega. For a sane household, and a well-adjusted dog, the human (whether male or female) must always be the alpha male of the pack.

Depending on the breed, this will be either more difficult or easier. Like humans, some are simply more assertive than others. Leashes, collars, commands and other training aids are all highly useful but most important is attitude. Never let your dog be the alpha.

Physical force is not necessary to enforce your dominance. Sometimes, used appropriately, that will be necessary. Usually, simply being firm and willing to wait for compliance will be enough.

For many, placing them on their backs when young and placing a firm hand in the middle of the chest until they lower their paws – a sign of submission – will be enough. With some, reinforcing this by putting your face close to theirs, emulating dominant dog behavior, can help.

Keep a short leash to restrain the dog’s natural tendency to roam. Allow plenty of time for free running behavior, essential to dog health, but that’s before or after training, not during. At least, not at first.

Start simply by choosing short, clear commands that sound distinctly different: sit, stay, down, come. Use a firm, but not too loud of a voice. You’re in charge, but not angry. Avoid double-word commands like ‘sit down’ or ‘stay down’. These sound too much alike and quickly confuse the dog.

Each verbal command should utilize the same look, tone and gesture. Eventually these can separate, but at first it’s essential to provide the simplest, most consistent form of communication.

Just like two-year old humans, dogs have limited capacity for grasping the subtleties of language. Assist their understanding by rigid consistency. Don’t use a single command word to mean more than one thing. ‘Down’ can mean ‘don’t jump on me or anyone else’, or it can mean ‘get on your stomach’, but it has to mean one thing only.

Be clear, be patient and be committed and the result will be a dog who trusts and listens to you. And that makes it worth the effort.

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Potty Training Your New Puppy



No training is more basic for pet owners than that first important lesson: Do it outside!

Teaching your puppy to eliminate outside the home, not in it, often starts between six and eight weeks of age. Dogs as young as four weeks have been started on housebreaking, but at that age few have the muscular control to succeed.

With any dog training plan, trainer patience is as important as the dog’s temperament. ‘Sit’, ‘stay’ and other behaviors can often be learned in a few days. ‘Potty’ training your puppy may take weeks – perhaps as short as two, often a month or more.

As with other learned behaviors, it helps to observe for signs of the desired actions and enforce and direct them with a voice command followed by praise. In this case that technique works even more to the trainer’s advantage, since all dogs will naturally eliminate. The trick is to get them to do it when and where you want!

Observe for circling or squatting, then scoop up the pup, say ‘potty’ and run outside. The puppy may circle some more, but will often squat immediately. As it starts, say ‘Go potty’ ( or some other unique phrase) in a clear, firm (but not angry) voice. Wait until she is finished and then her praise lavishly.

You won’t always be able to notice the puppy about to potty, but don’t become angry or impatient when the dog eliminates indoors. It takes time for your puppy to learn to tell you it’s time to ‘go potty’. It also takes time for the muscles needed to control bladder and bowels to learn control.

Young dogs need to eliminate every 2-3 hours, on average. If you haven’t spotted pre-elimination behavior within that time, take the dog outside anyway. Issue the command ‘Go potty’ and wait. At first, usually, the dog will have no clue what you want.

Again, even when outside, it helps to wait and watch for the desired behavior then issue the command. That helps the dog associate the command with the behavior. If the dog hasn’t gone after a few minutes and a few ‘Go potty’ commands, take it back inside for an hour. Of course, if you see the pre-elimination behavior in less time, go outside again immediately.

Dogs have an astounding ability to quickly learn what their ‘alpha’ (the leader of the pack) wants. This is almost always accomplished by associating a verbal command with behavior, followed by praise. Punishment is usually counter-productive, and nowhere more so than in waste elimination training. Never rub your pup’s nose in waste.

Paper and/or crate training is preferred by some. Your pup can be trained to go on a newspaper, or on one of the chemically treated housebreaking pads designed for the purpose. Some small breeds that live all day in the home may not need to go outside at all.

The technique has a couple of downsides however. Unlike cats, dogs will rarely go in a scented litter box. Newspapers (even with the top layer removed after the dog goes) will eventually create an unpleasant smell in the house.

Also, long before the odor becomes unattractive to humans, dogs can smell their own distinctive odor. They don’t find their smell unattractive – quite the opposite. And that is where the problem lays.

Paper trained dogs will prefer to eliminate indoors. Sometimes they’ll miss the paper by only an inch, causing a mess to clean up.

Once the smell is in the carpet, the dog will continue to seek that spot out as its proper ‘place to go’. This makes training the dog to eliminate outside even more difficult. Best to suffer a few accidents than to create a hard-to-overcome habit.

Patience, praise and consistency are the keys to any dog training. Potty training is the first test for you and your dog.



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