2001-Fri Feb 24 19:10:55 EST 2017
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A. A dog who has only been taught to potty in a specific place or on a specific substrate can have problems when he is asked to potty somewhere different. This often happens with dogs transitioning from using a potty pad indoors to going outside on grass or concrete. It can also happen when a dog is moved from one home to another, such as leaving a house with a lawn for an apartment building surrounded by sidewalks.
Teaching your dog proper potty habits starts in puppyhood. During this time I encourage pet parents to take their puppy for potty breaks on a variety of outside surfaces, including grass, concrete, sand and gravel. This helps your dog learn to be less selective later about which outside surfaces he will potty on. It is important to deal with potty training issues early; it can be agonizing for your dog to hold his bladder for long periods of time, and it’s inconvenient for you when faster bathroom breaks are needed.
My first recommendation with any potty training issue is always to start with a veterinary checkup. Once your dog has been cleared by your veterinarian, it’s time to start training.
Start by figuring out if your dog prefers a particular substrate or a particular location for his potty breaks. One Husky mix I trained was so accustomed to going on the potty pad in the kitchen that he would never go to the bathroom outside. If the potty pad was moved, he would still potty in the kitchen. For him, the location, not the surface, was the most important indicator of where he was supposed to go. For this dog, I moved the potty pad an inch every day, slowly edging it farther away from the kitchen and closer to the yard. This took several weeks.
Once the potty pad was moved outside and onto the grass, the next step was to cut it into smaller and smaller pieces until the potty pad was gone altogether and only the grass remained. The dog was successfully trained to potty outside, but only because he made a very gradual transition from kitchen to yard.
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