There are times in life when I just don’t feel like standing around while my dogs find the perfect spot on which to relieve themselves. Like when the temperature outside is in the minus digits. Or, when I’m in a hurry to go somewhere and I don’t have hours for them to decide to do the deed. Or, when it’s late and I’m so tired that I’m not sure what’s holding me upright any longer. I’m sure you could think of a few circumstances to add to the list.
There’s a simple solution. You can teach your dogs to relieve themselves on cue. Yep, that’s right; they do their business on command. No more standing around in pouring rain, freezing temperatures, gale winds. Nope. A single little command has solved all that for me. And, for those of you who don’t already know about it, I’ll walk you through the steps.
First, let me say: I only use this command sparingly. When I say sparingly, I mean like once or twice a month, if that.
And the reason for that is that it can backfire on you if you use it too often. You may wind up with a dog you’ve inadvertently convinced needs your permission to relieve himself. Even to the point that he’d rather explode than go on his own. (Would the dog eventually go? Yes. The problem is that they hold it for so long, so often, that it winds up distending the bladder muscles and can cause incontinence problems. The same thing can happen to dogs who are left alone too long during the day before someone gets home to let them out.)
Don’t believe me? Unfortunately, I speak from experience. That’s what happened to Kiera-1. I got her as a puppy in the middle of a frigid winter, and she hated going out at night–she’d take for-eeeeever to go. I thought I was being so clever putting her on cue. So clever, that I spent the rest of her life feeling compelled to sign to her because otherwise she wouldn’t go. Ask Andrew. He’ll tell you, I’m not exaggerating. I share this so you can learn from my mistakes. I’ve learned.
The great thing is you can start this training at any age. An older dog will pick it up as easily as a puppy you’re house-training.
Okay, caveat covered, here’s how it works:
- Just as your dog begins to relieve itself, you say “Go Potty” or “Hurry up” or “Do your business” or whatever expression you want to use. I also use the sign “toilet” in sign language (which is your thumb placed between your index finger and middle finger and waved back and forth). This is handy if you’re in public and you’d rather not be announcing your dog’s business to the world.
- When your dog is finished, you say “Good dog!” and have a little celebration. Within a few days, your dog will have made the connection that “Go Potty” means do his business.
- Then practice using the command when you’re not in a rush so you can give your dog time to go. Don’t repeat the command like a stutter. Say it once and wait for the dog to go. After it goes, say “Good dog!”
- Then only use the command when you really, really, really need to, and at no other time.
That’s all there is to it. Easy as pie. If you try it and have questions, come on back and give a holler. I’d be glad to help.