Dogs are naturally clean animals, which try to keep clean the area where they sleep, eat, rest. This nice habit comes from their natural instinct of keeping their den clean. We should however help our dog understand what the living area is.
A puppy, exactly like a new-born baby, does not have complete control of their bladder and bowels. For this reason, it is important to remember that it is normal that accidents are normal and should not be punished. This is very important because, if we punish him, our dog might learn not to eliminate in front of us, even when they are outside. Similar problems might happen when we adopt an adult dog from a shelter or the street, where he was not used to eliminate on a fixed schedule.
Should we found out that our dog had eliminated in the house, we should distract our dog and take him/her to a different room, so that they do not associate the situation with your attention. We should clean with water and disinfectants that do not contain bleach, as this has an odour that is similar to animal excrements.
Dogs learn where they should eliminate based on odours, place, and substrate. It is therefore important that we teach our dog what are the places and substrates that are appropriate for toileting. In order to do that, we should make sure our dog eliminates as much as possible in the right place. Therefore, we should take them our every time they are likely to eliminate, such as when they wake up, after they ate or played, or whenever they start sniffing the ground walking in circles. Whenever our dog is toileting in the right place, we should praise our dog or reward him/her with a small treat – just make sure that your dog has finished first! This process initially will require us to take our dog very often, sometimes even every two hours. This is clearly very demanding on us but is very rewarding.
For the same reasons, it is better avoiding teaching our dog to go toilet on training pads or rugs, as this also teaches our dog that it is OK to eliminate in the house or on fabrics.
Federica Pirrone, Mariangela Albertini, Patrizia Piotti researchers at UNIMI Veterinaria