Caring For A Cocker / Training Tips

Potty training is one of the biggest challenges for the new Cocker parent. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Potty training is a positive process with a single goal in mind.
  • Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement and repetition of the right things. Be the best teacher you can be.
  • Don't set your expectations too high. Don't become angry. Be consistent and patient.
  • You dog is not considered potty trained until they are accident free for 12 consecutive weeks.
  • It is up to you to anticipate your dog's needs and help them learn where to go.
  • Your dog/puppy should understand they should not mess in their sleeping or eating areas, but may not understand they are expected to go all the way outside to eliminate. The living room may become their indoor backyard.
  • Feed your dog on a schedule. This will prevent overeating and will allow you to predict their elimination habits.
  • Always feed a premium food. Better quality ingredients digest better and produce less waste.
  • Your dog must be supervised at all times when inside. Use baby gates, close doors or use their crate to manage your dog's activities. Whenever possible, keep the crate in an area frequented by the family so the dog will feel like a family member.
  • Carry or put your dog on a leash to go outside. Take the same route every time. Use the same door, go to the same spot and wait. Pick a phrase, such a "go potty." When the dog eliminates, praise them.
  • Don't send your dog out unsupervised. How do you know if they eliminated?
  • Potty time and playtime are separate.
  • If your dog does not eliminate outdoors, put them in the crate or make sure they are closely supervised. Go back outside in about 15 minutes. Never use the crate as punishment.
  • Select a verbal cue to communicate with your dog. "Outside?" "Potty?" Everyone in the home must use the same word.
  • It is unusual for a dog to go to the door when they want to go outside. It is best for us to initiate the activity, rather than waiting for the dog to learn the behavior on its own.
  • Help your dog communicate its need to go outside. Use a doggie doorbell. Ring a bell that is tied to the door that leads to the potty area. Do this each time your dog goes out to potty. When your dog learns to ring the bell, you should appear instantly.
  • Pay attention to your dog's potty pattern. Give your dog all the time they need. Some dogs will need to go more than once before they finish.
  • Your dog will have accidents during the training process.
  • Never hit your dog or rub their nose in waste. This is unsanitary and will not teach your dog anything.
  • If you find an accident, but do not catch the dog in the process of eliminating, clean up the accident and realize YOU made a mistake.
  • If you catch your dog in the act of eliminating, distract the dog and immediately get them out to finish.
  • Watch your dog for signs they need to eliminate, such as sniffing, circling or going to the door.

When do I take my dog outside?

  • First thing in the morning
  • After meals
  • After drinking
  • During and/or after playtime
  • Before bedtime
  • After naps
  • Any other time your dog is circling, sniffing or exhibiting a behavior that says they have to eliminate
  • In the middle of the night if necessary

Common problems:

  • If your  schedule is not consistent and predictable, the dog won't know when it will be allowed to eliminate again.
  • Physical limitations do not allow the dog to wait until they are taken outside.
  • Dogs don't naturally understand they must eliminate outdoors.
  • Stress, age, visitors, changes in family structure, etc. can throw potty training off schedule.
  • Changes in diet can cause stomach upset and potty training challenges.

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