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Service Dog Training Guide: How to “Potty Train” a Service Dog

2018-10-11


House training is an indispensable skill for every dog that lives in the house. For the service dogs, a good potty habit is the sign of a well-trained assistance dog. They have to urinate or defecate within a limited time under the command of the handler. This is a difficult task for the dog as it grows older so the potty training should be started early, preferably in the puppy phase. A puppy has a good ability to learn, although sometimes they are still naughty. Training your puppy yourself in a good potty habit does not have to be hard, if you are willing to spend a lot of time. This article will give you some tips on how to succeed.


Step 1: Commit yourself to a house training schedule

Devise a schedule and stick with it. The schedule should include mealtimes, play sessions, training sessions, going outside and taking naps. A puppy schedule is one of the first things we should consider before we pick up the puppy, as it can directly affect the future life of you and your puppy.

  • Mealtimes: Leave the food in the dog bowl for 20-25 minutes. If it was not eaten during this time, remove it until the next meal. A regular eating habit is good for the effect of training, because it relates to the gastrointestinal movements and the potty impulse.

  • Going outside: After a meal or a nap, take your puppy on a leash and lead him outside, to give him plenty of opportunities to do his “business” on the grass. No matter if the grass is in the park or backyard of your house, it is necessary to put a leash on your puppy, because then you can control its potty time and avoid overexcitement. Let him be aware that this is pee and poop time, rather than playtime. Also, it is advisable to make sure that he is indeed doing his “business”. Keeping a dog on a leash is a good way to walk with him and at the same time confirm that he has done everything, as a little puppy can easily be distracted and playful. Some owners complain that their puppy promptly does its business on the floor of the house, even though he has been running on the grass for a long time. 


Since a puppy’s bladder is too small to hold a lot of urine, they have to pee or poo every 30 minutes, usually after waking up from a nap, play session, and taking meals.

Repeat the schedule persistently. You probably need to be very patient and tolerant of his defecation mistakes during the first few months of training. 

 

Step 2: Supervise your puppy 

To keep an eye on your puppy the whole time, you should limit the access area in the house. If you put him behind some baby barriers or in a playpen, this would effectively control his area of activity. This should help you to notice the subtle signals of your puppy when he is ready to go outside.

  

Step 3: Advanced training 

After completing step 1 and step 2, it is time to train it with potty commands.

Before you go for a walk with your puppy, you should hide some treats that he loves in your pocket and put him on a leash. Then you can take him directly to the potty spot on the grass where he normally does his business. Then hold the end of the leash and stand to one side to give him enough space.

When he begins to eliminate, it is time to give him some potty cues like “Get Busy”, “Go Potty”, and “Hurry Up”. And you should make sure he notices what you are saying, but do not scare him, even if you want him to finish quickly. Repeat this every time he goes outside to do his business. Gradually, you can give the cue earlier and earlier, until you can say it before he eliminates. During this process, you need to spend much time observing his behaviour so you know when he is about to start. As soon as the puppy has finished, reward it with treats or remove his leash so that it can play with you in the backyard or garden for a few minutes. Dogs are smart and can easily understand and remember every happy moment. Continue to repeat this step.

Congratulations, if your pup has generally been successful! You are a good coach and your puppy is a well-trained student. He is getting closer and closer to a service dog. Keep up the good work!