As I sit on the couch watching Netflix, my fully house trained dog is faithfully lying at my side. Gerard is a stout purebred Boxer, and his head and paws are hanging slightly over the edge of the cushions. . . he has not a care in the world! As I begin to doze, it’s apparent that bedtime is near. Before I settle in however, it’s time for Gerard’s nightly ritual of emptying his bladder.
“Come on Gerard. Let’s go outside!” His response is Pavlovian. He runs to the door, I open it, and he runs outside into the backyard. Minutes later, he returns. It’s lights out for Gerard and me.
These days, I don’t wonder if my beloved Boxer will faithfully execute his doggie duties. His consistency and ability to ‘hold it’ until I get home each evening is impressive. But it wasn’t always that way. House training Gerard was a challenge to say the least. Conditioning him to go outside taught me as many lessons as it taught him. Here are some of my personal insights from that experience:
Patience is not an option:
It takes the average human child 2-3 years to be fully potty trained. Yet we expect our pets to learn in just a few months. Puppies are like toddlers! Their intellect takes a while to develop. Eventually, however, they’ll ‘get it’ if we owners remain patient and steadfast.
I had to safeguard my house:
The reason my dog peed all over the house is because I allowed my dog to have access to the entire house! I soon learned that I had to close doors and purchase barriers that limited Gerard’s roaming spaces for a while while he learned to ‘hold it.’ I took personal responsibility for where he was allowed to go while inside.
“House training Gerard was a challenge to say the least.”
My dog needed a schedule:
One of the things I love about smartphones is the ability to set reminders, which I desperately needed. I set a daily schedule and stuck by it. The schedule included feeding times and times when he had to go outside. Granted, there was some flexibility, but we both worked it out.
My dog couldn’t do it alone:
House training a dog is a team effort. It’s a bonding moment between dog and master. If I wanted Gerard to exhibit proper behavior, then I had to go outside with him. I had to show him where his spot was and take him there every time without deviation. When he did well, I praised him and rewarded him appropriately.
I first made the mistake of giving Gerard too much freedom too soon. It backfired every time! I realized that I had to give him more independence a little at a time. Eventually I could trust him not to relieve himself inside the house throughout the day, every day. His training was complete. So was mine.
There are great resources available online and through your dog’s veternarian when it comes to house training your dog. With patience, teamwork and consistency, your dog will be great at holding it while indoors . . . just like Gerard!