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It’s rather common for pet owners to housetrain their dogs to relieve themselves outdoors. However, there might come a point in time when your dog is no longer able to do their business outdoors as easily or as often as before, whether it’s due to mobility issues, weaker bladder control, or circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic circuit breaker.
As such, housetraining your dog to do its business indoors may be necessary for its health and convenience, and if you’re wondering how to re-train your pooch to do so, here’s a guide for you!
From newspapers and pee trays to litter boxes, there are several options that you can choose from for your dog’s indoor potty. While newspapers are much cheaper than purchasing potty pads or litter boxes, newspapers are likely to result in a messier cleanup as they are less absorbent than potty pads as well as litter boxes. On the other hand, litter boxes may not be suitable for larger breeds, as they were made with cats in mind, after all.
For those who are opting for newspapers or potty pads, it is advisable to place them on a box or tray with raised sides rather than placing them directly on the floor. This can help to decrease the risk of your dog missing his target as the raised sides help them to distinguish between the floor and his potty more clearly.
You may also choose to use a turf or soil pad if your dog is extremely accustomed to relieving itself outdoors or on grass surfaces, but do keep in mind that unlike newspapers, pee pads, or litter which can be easily disposed of, you will have to wash or clean the grass patch thoroughly each time it has been used!
As an added tip, we recommend putting deep thought into the placement of your dog’s indoor potty. Once you’ve designated an area for it, it’s best to not move it any more. Switching locations will only serve to disrupt your dog’s routine, which may cause the training to be less effective and more time-consuming. Typically, most pet owners would prefer to place their pet’s potty in the bathroom, where it’s easier to clean up and more hygienic for the rest of the house.
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For this, it is important to note your dogs’ preferred surface when relieving themselves outdoors. Do they prefer grass? Or do they have a habit of doing it on concrete surfaces? If it is the former, you may consider placing some real grass or soil (preferably already soiled by them) at its designated indoor bathroom to help your pet feel more comfortable and inclined to use that spot.
Alternatively, instead of bringing the “outdoors” in, you can also bring the “inside” out — bring along its litter box or potty pad the next time it’s outdoors and place it next to your pet when it’s relieving itself! This will help to establish the connection between its new potty with its usage, which might help your pet with the transition.
For dogs that are still struggling with getting accustomed to an indoor setting, here are some tips that may help you to increase your chances of successfully retraining your dog:
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Just like how you would reward your pet when attempting to teach him a new trick, the use of praises and rewards will speed up the housetraining. Always ensure that the housetraining is a positive experience so that your pet will be more inclined to use its indoor potty, and use positive reinforcement generously throughout the entire process.
Keep in mind that housetraining is a gradual process where timing is key, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on them and watch out for signs of it wanting to go. Once you spot these signs, you need to immediately guide them to their new potty spot and only let them go once they have relieved themselves. Of course, a treat as a reward is necessary too!
It is also important to note that making mistakes is a normal part of housetraining. Rather than scolding and punishing your pet for it, it is more effective to remain patient and correct their mistakes by bringing them to the correct location. Dishing out scoldings and punishments will only likely scare your dog from relieving themselves in front of you.
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If your dog is accustomed to listening to a potty cue given before relieving themselves outdoors, you can also use the same potty cue while pointing to their designated indoor bathroom spot to get across your message better.
On the other hand, for dogs that are trained to relieve themselves without a cue, you can try to teach him a new command such as “Go Potty”. Saying the new command while bringing your dogs to their usual spot helps them to familiarise themselves with the command, which can be used later on as they slowly transition to the indoor setting.
When retraining dogs to relieve themselves indoors, the time taken for them to be accustomed to an indoor setting will definitely differ across all dogs. As a dog owner, the most important factor would be to remain patient and encouraging while following the methods and tips above, and I am sure that your efforts will be rewarded with an indoor-potty-trained dog!