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Dog lovers don't just live in the countryside, with unlimited access to fields or woods for their dogs to toilet in. Indeed, city dwellers are just as likely to love dogs and want to keep a canine companion. But if you live in an apartment block, trailing down flights of stairs each time the dog needs to relieve himself is not practical. Indeed, even when you get outdoors, the dog may only have to access to a postage stamp sized patch of green which is already soiled and unhygienic.
From tower-block dwellers to the disabled, toilet training a dog is almost impossible if you have to trek long distances before the dog can perform. The answer could well be to designate a dog toilet area indoors and keep it clean with a covering of newspaper or puppy pads. Indeed, with a little time, patience, and persistence it's perfectly possible to train the dog to pee on a patch of newspaper, which minimizes the mess and keeps everyone happy.
Teaching a dog to pee on newspaper involves doing just that. Instead of the dog relieving himself where ever he chooses, he learns to target a pad of newspaper. This can subsequently be disposed of and a fresh wad put down.
Training a dog to do this depends on consistency so that he understands what's required of him. In turn, this means you need to have tactics in place to either make him want to choose the newspaper or to praise him when he happens to visit the right spot.
This task is made considerably easier when you eliminate the possibility of the dog making the wrong choice! Again, this can be via method one in which you start with a room tiled with newspaper or you watch the dog constantly to prevent accidents.
Any dog, even a puppy from 8 weeks onwards, can learn to pee on paper. However, adult dogs may have ingrained habits which are difficult to break. But even old dogs can learn new tricks, so be patient and consistent and eventually, the penny will drop in the right place.
Time and patience are two essential commodities when teaching a dog to pee on paper. Never force the pace or the dog may get confused, which will set the training back.
In addition, you'll need (depending on your chosen method):
- A small room in which the dog can be confined
- A dog bed or crate, food, and water bowls
- Plenty of newspaper
- Cleaning equipment for those inevitable mishaps
- A treat bag you can wear on your belt, so as to have treats handy at all times
The Paper a Room Method
Understand the idea
When the entire floor is covered in newspaper the dog will, by default, pee on the paper. Every few days, remove some of the paper so the dog gravitates to a smaller area of paper. Eventually, you will have a papered patch sufficient for the dog's needs as a toilet but no bigger.
Set aside a small room
Choose a small room in which the dog can live for while. A small bathroom or laundry room will do, although do make sure the dog doesn't feel too isolated from the family. Paper the floor with newspaper, and put the dog's bed in one corner and his water in another. Makes sure the room is comfortable and pleasant so the dog doesn't think he's being punished.
Replace soiled newspaper
The dog is likely to pick a patch of paper away from his bed, food, or water. Be sure to removed soiled paper promptly and replace it with clean. Make a mental note of where the dog tends to go, as this is may well be the best spot to leave the paper down last.
Remove some patches of paper
After a few days of the dog peeing in the papered room, a pattern will emerge of where his favorite patch is. Now you can start slowly removing areas of paper, to expose the floor beneath. Start by removing the newspaper closest to his bed or bowls, since these are the areas he's least likely to soil.
Limit the newspaper to one spot
As the process continues, increase the amount of exposed floor while leaving the toilet spot papered. Out of habit, the dog will seek out the papered area. Quietly praise and reward the dog when he visits this spot.
Put peeing on cue
As a final step, you may wish to put the peeing on cue. Simply praise the dog when he visits the toilet spot, quietly say your chosen cue word. "Get busy" or "Toilet time" are good choices. After he has finished, give him a treat. He will learn to link the cue with getting a reward, and start peeing on command in order to get a treat.
The Pee on Command Method
Understand the idea
This method goes back to the basics of potty training. You supervise the dog at all times and take him to toilet on paper. Then you reward him for going in the right place so that he's keen to visit the spot in feature and use it as a toilet.
Supervise the dog
It's essential to supervise the dog so that he doesn't have the opportunity to pee in the wrong place. To do this, keep the dog on a collar attached to a longline so that you know his whereabouts at all times. If he shows signs of sniffing as if to toilet, take him straight to the newspaper. Crate train the dog when you can't be there to supervise. Then you can put the dog in the crate in your absence, where he is unlikely to soil because it is his sleeping area.
Take him to the newspaper
At regular intervals, take the dog to the papered spot. Ideally this would be when the dog wakes, after he's eaten, before play, and every 1 to 2 hours. This will increase the likelihood of the dog needing to relieve himself at a time when the newspaper offers a convenient option.
Praise the dog for performing
When the dog does pee on the newspaper, quietly praise him. This helps the dog understand that the paper is a good place to relieve himself. To make him even keener, once he has finished, offer a treat. Now he'll want to save up his pee to 'spend' it on the newspaper for a tasty reward.
Add a cue command
It can be helpful to have the dog go toilet on command. To do this, when the dog relieves himself, say your chosen cue words, such as "Get busy". Say this in a firm happy voice, but not sufficiently excited to distract him. Then when he's finished, give a treat. The dog will start to link the command to the action, and perform on request to earn that treat.
The What NOT to Do Method
Don't choose the wrong spot
Make sure the spot you choose to put the final newspaper toilet area is quiet and somewhere the dog can do his business uninterrupted. For example, don't put the paper next to a washer which might go into spin cycle and frighten the dog. Also, make sure the post is distant from the dog's bed and food, as dogs dislike soiling near where they sleep or eat.
Don't chastise the dog
If things go badly and the dog pees off the paper, never chastise him. He's unlikely to link your reaction to where he peed, but instead, he'll think you don't like him peeing, period. This will make him secretive about where he does go, which makes training harder rather than easier.
Don't leave soiled paper down
Once the dog has soiled on the newspaper, be sure to remove it and clean the area beneath. This helps prevent odor seeping onto the floor, which may inadvertently label the area as a toilet for the dog. Plus, no-one (including the dog) likes a dirty toilet.
Reduce the risk of misplaced pees
It's important the dog doesn't pee in the wrong place while training is in progress. Urine soaked into carpet acts as a strong marker that will attract the dog back to repeat the offense. If he does toilet in the wrong area, be sure to thoroughly deoderize the patch so that it doesn't draw him back.
Don't distract the dog
When the dog visits the paper, take care not to distract him. Now is not the time to play or chat to him. Let him concentrate on the job in hand, and once he has performed, then you can praise and reward him.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 11/01/2017, edited: 01/08/2021