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There is arguably no cuter dog than the pug. That adorably wrinkled face and huge brown eyes make him an adorable dog, and with a sunny character to go with that sweet expression, it's no surprise the breed is so popular.
However, it should not be overlooked that he is still very much a living breathing animal, rather than a cuddly toy. As such it requires time and effort to train him to toilet in the right place (outdoors.) To assume that because he looks cute he has cute habits is setting yourself up to fail. Just as much work is required to housebreak a pug as a Rottweiler or Doberman.
Right from the beginning, start as you mean to go on. Show the pug where the toilet spot is, stay with him, and praise him when he goes. This is balanced against keeping him supervised while indoors so that he doesn't get a chance to get into bad habits.
Training a pug to pee outside is part of his basic potty training. The idea is to have him associate a particular place outdoors with relieving himself, so he chooses this area as his default toilet. When the dog understands this is what's required of him then he will start asking to go outside when he needs to go.
Until he reaches this happy state you need to put plenty of effort into making 'the penny drop'. This includes giving him ample opportunity to go outside, but this must always be under supervision. It's an essential part of training that you are with him so that you can praise that magical moment when he urinates outside.
If you merely put him outside to leave him to his own devices for half an hour, the pug isn't going to realize this is his chance to toilet and at best won't learn anything but at worst he'll play for 30 minutes and then return inside to pee... much to everyone's frustration.
All dogs learn at their own rate and this is especially true of the pug. Be prepared for training to take as long as it takes. For some dogs, this will be a few days but for others, it can be weeks or even months--it all depends on how ingrained any bad habits are.
The important thing is to apply the rules consistently and to keep going... you will get there in the end if you keep plugging away.
To teach a pug to pee outside you need:
- A sheltered spot for him to use as a toilet
- A collar and leash
- A crate
- A treat bag or pouch so as to keep the rewards handy
- Time and patience
- Cleaning supplies including an enzymatic cleaner, disposable cloths, and waterproof gloves.
The Praise the Pee Method
Understand the idea
You pug needs to pee sooner or later. Make this work in your favor by rewarding him when he pees in the right spot, outside. Especially when there's a food reward involved (pugs are sooooo food motivated) he'll soon start saving up his pee in order to spend it for a treat. After all, it's 'money for nothing' when he has to relieve himself anyway, so he'll soon start to learn to hold on for the high stakes puddles that earn him a tasty tidbit.
Choose a toilet spot
Choose the ideal spot where you want the pug to go potty. Look for somewhere that is close to the house, but relatively sheltered. (Remember, you'll both be spending time outdoors together during training, and neither of you want to get too wet or blown about). It's also good if the spot is near a landmark such as a recognizable bush or post, so the dog can find it easily.
Take the dog out on a leash
When it's bathroom break time, take the dog out on a collar and leash. This is so that you have him under control and he doesn't go running after a squirrel and get distracted from the task in hand.
Praise the pee
When the dog raises his leg or squats, say "Yes" in a happy voice. Then when he's finished give him a big fuss and a reward.
Put peeing on command
The final step is to add a cue word such as "Get busy" or "Toilet". Say this while he's relieving himself and he'll start to understand what the action is that earned the treat. This will enable you to put peeing on command so that when you say "Get busy", he realizes you want him to pee and for this he gets a treat. What's not to like?
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Do: Ignore the dog until he toilets
When outside, avoid the temptation to chat or play with the dog. Instead, leave him to sniff and realize his bladder needs relieving. The less distraction he has, the more successful you'll be at getting him to pee outside.
Don't: Leave the dog to his own devices
Stay with the dog while outdoors, then you can be sure of being there to praise him when he pees. If you leave him outside by himself, he's more likely to get distracted and play, and then come indoors still with a full bladder.
Don't: Punish the Pug if he pees indoors
Punishment doesn't work. If you shout at him for doing a puddle on the carpet, the dog associates the punishment with you rather than the act of toileting indoors. This will make him shy about relieving himself when you're about, which makes toilet training harder still.
Do: Deodorize thoroughly
Pee has potent scent signals in it that will attract the dog back to the same spot to toilet. If he goes indoors, be sure to thoroughly wash, clean, and deodorize the spot so that it doesn't call him back to use it again.
Do: Shout "No!"
If you catch the pug in the act of peeing indoors, it's OK to say a short sharp "No", so as to interupt the flow. Then pick the dog up and whisk him straight outside to the right spot. Wait for him to toilet, and then give him lots of praise.
The Time and Opportunity Method
Understand the idea
Teaching a pug to pee outside also requires you to break the habit of toileting indoors. To do this you must supervise the dog at all times and spot telltale signs he needs to toilet, plus you must remove scent markers that might draw him back to the same scene of the crime.
Plenty of opportunity
Decrease the chance of the pug peeing in the wrong place (indoors) by giving lots of opportunity for him to go in the right place (outdoors) A young pug puppy needs to be offered an outdoor toilet stop every 20-30 minutes when he's awake. Plus, take him out shortly after he eats and immediately he wakes. These all increase the chances of catching him with a full bladder and going outdoors.
Supervise the pug during training, at all times. If necessary, keep him on a leash in the house and attach the leash to your wrist. If you notice signs such as sidling up to furniture or sniffing, which could indicate he's seeking a toilet, take him outdoors immediately.
For the times you can't be there to watch him, then crate train the pug. This provides him with a safe space, which becomes his den. A dog's natural instinct is not to soil his den, and so he will cross his legs while inside the crate. When you return, pop him straight outside to relieve himself.
Many household cleaners contain bleach or ammonia, which have a similar scent signature to urine. These types of cleaners are best avoided as they can amplify urine-smells, rather than remove them. Instead, use an enzymatic cleaner or a solution of biological washing powder to get rid of 'spills'.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 03/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021